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Waterloo vs. U of T - Electrical Engineering

A photo of newageanubis newageanubis
Hey guys,

I need some advice. I want to go to Waterloo, but my parents want me to go to U of T. Below I will present my personal circumstances, as well as the information we have used to come to our respective opinions for you guys to consider as well. I think we may have missed something, or have an error in our facts, which may tip the scales in the favour of one institution. Please comment if this is the case.

Family Background
Only one of my parents has a job. My brother is in 3rd year mechanical engineering at Ryerson University.

Financial Matters
My family likes to assume almost the worst, so that's what we've done below.
University of Toronto
If I went here, I'd commute; I am moving to a location near Kipling subway station soon.

Assuming that:
a) I get a PEY job that forces me to live away from home (1K per month living expenses, 32 000 after-tax income)
b) I only work in the summer between years 2 and 3 (The department has offered me one of those $5 000 fellowships to research with a prof if my grades stay above 80%)
By the end of it, I will be $10K in the red. I got this figure by subtracting four years of tuition+incidental expenses+books+transportation from the resources I have/will have (RESP, scholarship, savings, future earnings)

University of Waterloo
Assuming that:
a) I only get 5/6 co-op jobs, and they're all away from home (1K living expenses, average pay per term as per the Waterloo Co-op website statistics for 2011)
b) I live on residence for all study terms
By the end of it, I will be $30K in the red. Same method used for this figure. I didn't subtract tax from my earnings in my calculations.

Intangibles
I visited U of T on the weekend; I saw the Sanford Fleming and Galbraith buildings, as well as a microprocessor lab. I didn't really like the campus. I also don't like metropolitan areas, and prefer quieter, smaller towns/suburbs. I visited Waterloo yesterday, and I liked it more than I did U of T. I had the opportunity to walk around and see St. Jerome's res, but I didn't get to see any of the engineering buildings.

If I need help paying for my education down the road, my parents are willing to help if and only if I go to the University of Toronto.

Most real project cycles are 9-12 months or greater. It seems to me that I'd benefit more from a 16-month PEY than 5-6 four month co-op jobs.

Finally, I know a lot of people going to Waterloo, but pretty much none going to U of T. However, they are mostly software engineering, math and business kids. Nonetheless, I think it would help to have a few friends around.

Given all of this information, what would you guys advise I do?

Thanks; your time and words are greatly appreciated!
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22 replies
 
A photo of arviny arviny
Bro story of my life.

Just to point out a lot of co-op jobs you apply for at waterloo and pey for uoft are in Toronto/Markham (easy to commute from home). Also check out the salary reports for pey/co-op and employment rates for co-op (log in for this).

If you can go to Waterloo do it! Hands down a better university. Try going there and visiting their financial aid office or something to sort out any issues and see if there's a possibility of going there. Otherwise I guess you're stuck with UofT unless you don't mind taking bank loans.

I know guys at loo and here at UofT for engineering, the loo guys found great first term co-op jobs this summer meanwhile guys at UofT are free this entire summer (unemployed).

But really I believe it comes down to the individual, if you can stand out it won't matter if you came from loo or uoft. Also if you do graduate studies your undergrad won't matter so much, so just leaving this here for you to think about and make a better decision. It's a pretty hard one to make.
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A photo of plato plato
At Waterloo, no one lives on residence for their entire education. Most people do it for the first two terms, then find cheaper off-campus housing.

I'm not sure how you came up with the 30K figure for UW, but that certainly is worst case scenario. It's not uncommon to come out of the program debt-free if you are budget conscious.

If you do have any debt upon graduation, you're more likely to have pay it down after graduating from UW. You will make a lot of connections and get into so many more networks than you would at UT.

Seems like you much prefer the UW campus and community over UT. On this point alone, I highly urge you to follow your instincts and choose UW. It's fives years of your life.

I did not like the feel of the UT campus either. Whereas, I felt right at home at UW. Never looked back.

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A photo of AgriGen AgriGen
God damnit... why does this site log you out so quickly. Deleted my entire 40 min response...

Quickly... first you probably wont be living on residence in waterloo after first year. Student housing is about 400 to 600 per month after you move out.

Second... uoft is not as good with the bursaries and grants. waterloo gives me between $2000 to $4000 a year in bursaries. Saved me over $10,000 so far. Depends on your income, families income, etc. OSAP will give you generous grants too depending on your financial needs. If you have specific questions feel free to send me a private message. I use to work at UWs osap office.
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A photo of newageanubis newageanubis
Thanks everyone!

I guess a few recalculations are in order...
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A photo of imaginaryengineer imaginaryengineer
You sound like you really want to go to UW. Either way you will land a good job as ece's here at uoft generally have some of the best PEY jobs and often are the most sought after at career fairs.

However, someone from my high school now at UW was able to get coop at a company in toronto that makes iphone apps for his first placement. Granted he is a top student so i dont know how it is for everyone else but still sounds cool.

OSAP will likely be able to help you out. IMO just go to UW unless finances are really tight. Talk it over with the folks. Good luck
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A photo of LindaS LindaS
I think it really depends on what you want to do after uni.
If you want to go to grad school and have a more research based career, then go to uoft. If you want to go straight to work afterwards, go to Waterloo. Money shouldn't be a deciding factor, and I think you can transfer after first year if you really wanted to.
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A photo of entanglement entanglement
I'm biased, choose Waterloo :p
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A photo of ExplorerMF ExplorerMF
I was there for the Main Campus Tour and the Engineering Tour at UW last week. The engineering buildings are awesome! I especially love the Engineering 5 building!
I'm actually transferring from UofT to UW as I like the smaller community feel of UW. As someone mentioned - you can apply for bursaries if you're applying for OSAP.
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A photo of imaginaryengineer imaginaryengineer

I'm actually transferring from UofT to UW as I like the smaller community feel of UW



Come on wheres your skule spirit eh?
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A photo of aimango aimango
You know what, it doesn't even matter if you're the only person that's going or not, you'll meet great people in residence (this is a guarantee at pretty much all unis... unless you live at home). So I would say Waterloo if you want the social life.

Coop jobs are a pretty much guarantee for CS, Software, CompEng students. ElecEng is pretty much guarantee as well.

And no, you won't be living in res all 5 years, that's not common. Most people start living off campus in 2nd year, and the rent is $400-$500 per month. $600 if you want a nice place with many things included. Compare that to residence which is like 700-800 or more per month.

The programs are great at both schools.
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A photo of broodp4 broodp4
Ask yourself these questions

1. Who has the largest co-op in the world?
2. Who has the best paid co-op?
3. Who has arguably the best electrical and computer engineering faculty in Canada? (not ubc lol)
4. What is more importante in your opinion? Prestige oder SOLID education?
5. Do u want to live in Waterloo? Especially on campus? (concentration camp) Or would u rather be in Toronto?

If u answered Waterloo on at least 3 Q, Waterloo awaits u.
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A photo of iliketurtles iliketurtles

@broodp4 wrote
Ask yourself these questions

1. Who has the largest co-op in the world?
2. Who has the best paid co-op?
3. Who has arguably the best electrical and computer engineering faculty in Canada? (not ubc lol)
4. What is more importante in your opinion? Prestige oder SOLID education?
5. Do u want to live in Waterloo? Especially on campus? (concentration camp) Or would u rather be in Toronto?

If u answered Waterloo on at least 3 Q, Waterloo awaits u.



Well you're obviously biased lol
Both U of T and UW have arguably the best electrical/computer engineering programs in possibly North America, so that point shouldn't be of any concern. Both UW and U of T have both prestige AND solid education, so again that's not a good point...
No matter where you go, chances are you will end up with a solid job after graduation, and so debt isn't a HUGE concern. The biggest things you should be worried about are Toronto vs Waterloo/Kitchener, and co-op vs PEY. It's a personal preference thing imo, lol
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A photo of broodp4 broodp4
IMO both Toronto and Waterloo are not ideal. I would have preferred an atmosphere similar to the one at uofGuelph, where I had the most fun in my life. But since we are talking about studying engineering fun is out of the question. Prepare your brain for blast off.

Ps: very few ppl know Waterloo outside of north america. Prestige wise uoft owns most universities in Canada. And how can Waterloo or uoft have the best ECE in north america when there is MIT and caltech? Close, but not close enough. (lol @ ubc)
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A photo of iliketurtles iliketurtles

@broodp4 wrote
IMO both Toronto and Waterloo are not ideal. I would have preferred an atmosphere similar to the one at uofGuelph, where I had the most fun in my life. But since we are talking about studying engineering fun is out of the question. Prepare your brain for blast off.

Ps: very few ppl know Waterloo outside of north america. Prestige wise uoft owns most universities in Canada. And how can Waterloo or uoft have the best ECE in north america when there is MIT and caltech? Close, but not close enough. (lol @ ubc)


Well the thread is about U of T vs. Waterloo, lol
I'm not trying to say that U of T & UW > caltech/MIT, but I'm just saying that trying to choose one over the other over "prestige" is pretty useless considering they are both extremely prestigious in North America. I admit I did word it a little wrong, but it was rushed.
Also, UW is pretty famous in Asia for engineering, probably because so many Asians from HK/China/Korea go there. At least this seems to be the case where I'm from, where it's UBC/UofT/McGill/UW or nothing. lol
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A photo of broodp4 broodp4
K "iliketurtles". I agree 100%. There is a x^2 = -1 difference between Waterloo and uoft. If u know what I mean...
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A photo of entanglement entanglement
I wont restate what posters above have said.

I've done the finances backwards and forwards many times over. The bottom line is the less debt upon graduation from UW. That and better prospects to jump right into a high paying job directly after graduation.
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous

@newageanubis wrote

Intangibles
I visited U of T on the weekend; I saw the Sanford Fleming and Galbraith buildings, as well as a microprocessor lab. I didn't really like the campus. I also don't like metropolitan areas, and prefer quieter, smaller towns/suburbs. I visited Waterloo yesterday, and I liked it more than I did U of T. I had the opportunity to walk around and see St. Jerome's res, but I didn't get to see any of the engineering buildings.

If I need help paying for my education down the road, my parents are willing to help if and only if I go to the University of Toronto.

Most real project cycles are 9-12 months or greater. It seems to me that I'd benefit more from a 16-month PEY than 5-6 four month co-op jobs.

Finally, I know a lot of people going to Waterloo, but pretty much none going to U of T. However, they are mostly software engineering, math and business kids. Nonetheless, I think it would help to have a few friends around.

Given all of this information, what would you guys advise I do?





May I ask why your parents will help only if you go to U of T? It seems a little bit weird.

Given all the information you gave me, I would tell you to go to Waterloo. You can learn a bunch about work experience in the 5 - 6 four month co-op jobs and you get the money when you need it, instead of in the third year.
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A photo of ktel ktel
^ Because parents are crazy. Even my normal, awesome parents went crazy when I mentioned applying to universities in Ontario (I'm from Alberta). They became a lot less crazy four years later when I was obviously an adult and had no problem with me moving away.
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A photo of vmicro vmicro
You'd be surprised; U of T and Waterloo's ECE programs are comparable to that of Ivy League institutions. I know for a fact that a lot of the people who graduated from U of T got jobs at places like Google, RIM, AMD, etc.

To be honest with you, both schools have comparable programs. In terms of quality of education, the difference is negligible. What YOU make of the next 4/5 years will be more important at the end of the day.

PEY and Waterloo co-op are not so different. Waterloo is slightly longer at 20 months vs 16, but I know a lot of kids who do coop after only 1 semester and at that point, you are still pretty much useless. Its also difficult to see an entire project through in 4 months. But you do get to work at a lot of different places, which is good if you aren't really sure what exactly you want to do, and you get a lot more experience with the application process.

Both have their strong and weak points, pick whichever best works for you.
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A photo of entanglement entanglement

@vmicro wrote
PEY and Waterloo co-op are not so different. Waterloo is slightly longer at 20 months vs 16, but I know a lot of kids who do coop after only 1 semester and at that point, you are still pretty much useless.



I've been doing electronics and programming since I was eleven years old. I've designed FPGAs that are being used on production lines. Useless after four months of school? Hardly. There are many other students who have been practicing their field for years, and our first co-ops will be better than some PEY co-ops.
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A photo of vmicro vmicro
Sorry, I should clarify.

Going purely by the curriculum, you are virtually useless after 1 semester. If you've been doing that kind of stuff for a long time, thats a completely different story. But I know that there are a lot of students in electrical and computer engineering at U of T who, prior to coming here, have never written a single line of code, have never picked up a soldering iron and don't even know how to strip wires.

Thats very good for you that you have that experience, you are a good step ahead of most people and its nice to see people entering engineering programs with genuine interest in the field (unlike 50% of my class).

But my point stands; the curriculum teaches you very few useful skills in the 1st semester, regardless of where you go. I should also note that this highlights my prior point: It's more down to who you are and what you do than the program in a lot of ways.
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A photo of entanglement entanglement
Point taken. After only one semester of school and no prior knowledge the average student would not have many skills to offer an employer. But I've heard UW co-op is about networking, and that fitting into a company's corporate culture is very important. They hire you on as a noob in your first co-op, but you may go back if you're both a fit for each other.

There are people that after 3 years of university are still lost for putting together programs without a lot of hand holding.
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