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Schools Needing help choosing a university for eng! Big decision

  1. May 2, 2012 #1
    Needing help choosing a university for eng! Big decision!!

    Hey guys, long story short I am a 17 year old in southern Ontario kid who has been admitted to every university I applied to mechanical engineering. To make things simple, I have narrowed the my choices to two universities: Queens and Waterloo.

    Waterloo, for anyone who is not familiar, is know to be the best university here for undergraduate engineering focused towards technology (Think MIT of Canada). What it is infamous for is its co op program: six four month placements with some of the top 500 companies of the world (RIM, Harvard university, Google, Microsoft, Hatch, most car companies). This is a great advantage none the less, but I have my doubts about the place.

    The things that make me feel uneasy about Waterloo is how the mandatory 4 month co op works. Unlike normal universities, EVERY four months you switch from school to work, moving around constantly, with no summer breaks. I've heard this becomes real depressing, since students have no real sense of a 'home' base of friends since they always change during terms as well as can't really participate in things like sports, bands (huge music kid). It has a reputation of being lonely, but none the less the best 'academic' choice that will put me on the top.

    Queens is still known as one of the best universities in Canada (often called 'little Oxford'), a great reputation in engineering amongst employers, yet it does not have the 'bleeding edge' waterloo is known to have. Queens is very focused upon teamwork and soft skills in the engineering, having a general first year with no competition towards which profession you choose (if 100% of the students go into ECE, the will accommodate for that, which is nice). They are known to have classes to help students communicate ideas (kind of like drama) to help them to be able to work better as teams, as well as interviews and business presentations, which i find fun. They also do have co op, but a 16 month intern-ship which appeals much more to me. the companies are still great, but not at Waterloo's level (Honda, GM, AMD, Hatch, bombardier, almost every oil company). I enjoy the atmosphere of Queens much more and they are known to "have the most fun" and "be the most satisfied in life after going there". I'm just worried that if that comfort is worth sacrificing for the reputation of being "the best".

    So with you guys that have actual experience in the field, what would you recommend I choose? Would it be better going to the university I am more comfortable at that has a great name, or risk it at the university with the best name to have a bit more prestige. My ultimate goal is to work and live in the states and/or design space ships (spacex, virgin galactic), so prestige may come into play (unsure if a masters is needed for that though).

    Yet Queens supposedly is LOVED by american universities such as Yale, Berkeley, Stanford, etc. a handful of the bright ones go off there to grad school, which I am considering (like 40%).

    Thank you to anyone who gives in some input!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2012 #2
    Re: Needing help choosing a university for eng! Big decision!!

    Don't go to a school just because you think grad schools will prefer it over your other choice. It is easy to forget how many factors grad school admissions take into consideration besides the prestige of your school (i.e. you are likely to thrive at a school you are more comfortable at).
  4. May 2, 2012 #3
    Re: Needing help choosing a university for eng! Big decision!!

    Oh I agree with the grad schools, its just a point of information I thought was a bit useful just to know.

    So I'm more comfortable for sure at queens even though its not number 1. Is that really going to set me back in life? Because its still a great school, its mcgills rival school
  5. May 5, 2012 #4


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    Re: Needing help choosing a university for eng! Big decision!!

    Queens has a solid reputation in areas of both science and engineering, so you are in no way being set back by attending there (a number of people I know attended there, and all are quite successful). If in the end, you feel more comfortable attending there, I would say go for it.
  6. May 5, 2012 #5
    Re: Needing help choosing a university for eng! Big decision!!

    When looking at schools in Canada "prestige" does not really exist or is meaningless. Either of those schools are fine. Go to the program that fits your needs and goals best. As long as you go to one of the major research schools in Canada and have solid grades you can go anywhere after. I know people from U of A who have gone to Harvard, MIT, Columbia, etc for grad school.
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