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University of Waterloo First Year Questions

A photo of Nexus111 Nexus111
I got accepted to Waterloo for electrical engineering in March (and I accepted it)and I have been wondering what the workload is like for first year students in engineering at Waterloo. How many hours of work a week do first year students usually get? How many assignments per week should I expect? Should I do any preparation in the summer to get ready for my first year? I am willing to work hard but I would like to know what kind of time I would have to join any extra curricular activities and network with other people/students when I am not studying.I would appreciate any information of student life at uWaterloo.I also would like to know if stream 4 or 8 is better or if it even makes a difference.
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A photo of Esnoyt Esnoyt
What was your average like?
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A photo of Nexus111 Nexus111
I got a 90 average for first semester of grade 12 and currently have a 93 average this semester.
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A photo of aimango aimango

@Nexus111 wrote
I got accepted to Waterloo for electrical engineering in March (and I accepted it)and I have been wondering what the workload is like for first year students in engineering at Waterloo. How many hours of work a week do first year students usually get?


How many assignments per week should I expect? Should I do any preparation in the summer to get ready for my first year? I am willing to work hard but I would like to know what kind of time I would have to join any extra curricular activities and network with other people/students when I am not studying.I would appreciate any information of student life at uWaterloo.I also would like to know if stream 4 or 8 is better or if it even makes a difference.





ill answer this because us & electricals take a lot of the same courses in first year. the workload is a bitch. moreso in 1st term because you have mandatory tutorials and labs. you should expect assignments or quizzes in all your courses for 1st term (maybe 1 every 2 weeks for CS). and I dont think you get assignments for chem, not sure. 2nd term is not as bad, at least 1 for cs, 1 for each of the 2 maths, 1 physics quiz each week.

I never prepared in the summer before first year, I honestly dont think there is much point unless you took physics or calc in 1st semester gr 12. Bring your notes in those 2 subjects to UW because they will be useful.

Joining clubs/associations is really difficult for engineers, especially since (if youre unlucky), your schedule will end at like 530. a lot of the meetings for clubs start at 4 or 5 ish, so there is little point in joining those. sports usually run at night/sometimes weekends if youre lucky. in terms of time, if you want to keep up with all the work youre getting, you really might not even have time to join anything. maybe 1 or 2 maximum.

stream 4 vs 8 - it depends on if you have previous relevant work experience and if you have a good resume. for stream 4, they wont be able to see your marks (because they havent even come out yet!) so employers hiring will heavily depend on your resume and personality. stream 8 - theyll see your 1st term average. theres also a lot more jobs available in the spring term so more jobs = more chances for stream 8s.

a lot of electrical + computer engineers end up getting software jobs because theres a big big amount of them. and this is totally fine. so programming experience is pretty useful.
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A photo of greygoose greygoose
I can't speak specifically for Engineering as a math student but my workload is higher than or comparable to a typical engineer so I will elaborate on my own experience. The main difference between a highly motivated math student versus an engineer is that engineering students have more hours in classes but about the same workloads that are slightly less difficult, so it evens out.

Engineers spend a significant amount of time in classes beyond that of a typical student; I think it's something like 27 hours vs. 18 (I am including some tutorials in there). Most first year courses I've taken had weekly assignments; I've heard engineering courses don't necessarily have an assignment for each course, but will have quizzes, etc. At my worst, when I had 4 weekly assignments due (one of which was the length of a biweekly assignment, so like 5), I was working minimum 25 hours per week on assignments. My more difficult assignments (8+ hours) probably are much less comparable to engineering assignments than my less difficult ones (3-4 hours), but since engineers have more courses, I'd say the time commitment is similar.

Regarding extracurriculars, just go for them! Many clubs don't require meetings at specific times, or will have accommodating times such as later in the evening or on weekends. Remember that there are many other engineers in the same boat as you. Regardless of my workload, I have always had time to hang out in three or four different clubs *and* have a pretty excellent social life. You just have to take time for it. It's not like you're going to Waterloo to get hung over every weekend anyw--wait, you're an engineer. :) The other thing too is that engineering classes tend to be very close-knit, because unlike in other programs, you will take pretty much all your classes with the people in your year and program. So certainly you will make close friends and have the opportunity to network.

Stream 4 and Stream 8 only has an effect on the placement of your first work term: Winter vs. Spring. It is somewhat incorrect that Stream 4 employers can't see your marks; unofficial marks are out entirely by the beginning of January so employers definitely can see them. They are finalized by the end of January. And since I doubt you'd be picking up any significant work experience between terms, it boils down to how prepared you are--to start a job hunt in your first few weeks of school or to get acclimatized a bit more before you join the hunt. Your chances are about the same in either term, perhaps better in Winter because though there are less jobs, there is also a LOT less competition.
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