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Waterloo and U of T

  1. Apr 1, 2005 #1
    Does anyone have any idea how selective their (pure) mathematics programs are?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2005 #2
    Waterloo is obviously very competitive in terms of math. When I was applying, I didn't get my acceptance until the second-last day to reply, after having received acceptances from everywhere else months before (I decided not to go there anyways, though)! Unless you are an absolutely top student (as in, one of the top students in the province), don't expect a scholarship, either. On the other hand, it's one of the top math schools in North America.

    UofT is not a math-focused university. It does, however, have a very strong program, as it does with almost everything. I don't know precisely how selective they are (I did apply, but I didn't pay attention much to when I got accepted or anything, because I wasn't intending to go there :/). It's not comparable to Waterloo in terms of reputation for math, but to tell the truth, it likely won't make much difference for undergraduate study anyway.
  4. Apr 1, 2005 #3


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    This is very true. I've talked with quite a few waterloo, toronto, ubc, and uvic grads to compare what thier programs were like. None really seemed to have any major relative advantages as far as the end education went.The Waterloo grads do get B.Math rather than B.Sc or B.A. on their degree though.

    Unfortunately I can't give you anything precise about their acceptance standards. I do know that the UofT specialist program has a very high rate of attrition. Their first year calculus course is taught out of Spivak and the enrollment dwindles rapidly as students flee for easier classes. They sometimes even flee a couple of tiers down, so they must be admiting students who aren't that strong (or maybe are poorly prepared coming out of high school).
  5. Apr 1, 2005 #4
    Well, it's hard not to admit people who aren't prepared out of high school. I'm quite certain that at least three quarters of the students going into carleton math in my year weren't prepared out of high school. I recall in my first year algebra tutorial section, there was a student who had been taught all of the linear algebra material in high school as strictly calculator work.

    At least half have quit by now (end of second year), or dropped several courses, I'd say.
  6. Apr 1, 2005 #5
    wtfwtfwtf why use a brutal textbook like Spivak's for a beginners' calculus course?? & then try to dismiss the students as "unprepared"? (or obviously "just lazy") Tenured white males in an ivory tower are sicker than I thought.
  7. Apr 1, 2005 #6
    I believe I'm sufficiently prepared for an undergraduate math education. I've exhausted my school's math curriculum and have spent the last year studying more advanced material on my own while collaborating with my teachers. Currently I'm re-learning calculus out of Apostol backed by Shilov's Elementary Real and Complex Analysis.

    As for selecting Waterloo or U of T, I'll try to leave that until I do get an acceptance. I'm just worried I'll get rejected since I'm an international (American) applicant, and I hear competition is harder for us.

    Oh, and Data, you chose Carleton over Toronto and Waterloo? Any particular reason? And a slightly unrelated question: is UOttawa's math program any good?

    I appreciate the comments. Thanks.
  8. Apr 1, 2005 #7
    To tell you the truth, I really don't know much about UOttawa math. I'm fairly certain that Carleton's is better, though, and Carleton isn't much compared to UofT anyway, let alone Waterloo.

    And I'm sure you're very well prepared (it certainly sounds like it!). I just criticize the Ontario high school math curriculum whenever possible, because it's really terrible. I was lucky that my school was actually fairly good, although ironically it's being closed now!

    As to why I chose Carleton, there were a few reasons. I'm actually a math-physics double honours student, and while UofT has a strong physics program, I wasn't all that impressed with Waterloo's from my research (although I actually think that Waterloo's is probably more undergraduate-oriented than Carleton's - half of Carleton's research money goes to physics, but there are only sixty undergraduate students at all levels, and only ten in math-physics). As I said, I never really considered UofT all that seriously, although I'm not sure why not in retrospect. Its facilities are highly impressive compared to those at other universities in Ontario, and as I mentioned before its programs are strong throughout. I visited the Waterloo campus and absolutely hated it, but this was obviously a subjective judgement. I strongly suggest you visit any campus you're considering before deciding to attend, though. As well, I wasn't interested in co-op, something that 80% of Waterloo students participate in.

    I also realised that I would be doing all the math that I wanted regardless of where I decided to go (and don't worry, my main interest does indeed lie in math, not physics). I also get paid ~$5000 a year above my tuition to go to school here, though I couldn't care less about it. Carleton's math program is by no means substandard regardless. There are roughly 200 students in the department, though most are in computer mathematics or something similar. While I'm sure that the classes would be more rigorous and quicker-progressing at Waterloo or UofT, and I do get bored quite frequently, it doesn't pose much of a problem, since there are always others to help with math, and I can of course develop my own problems (which my professors are more than willing to discuss, if only to evade the tedium of teaching the slow-progressing classes).
  9. Apr 1, 2005 #8


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    This is the math specialist program. Sorry if that wasn't clear. This would be the equivalent of the honours program at victoria, except they have their own calculus stream right from the start. Expecting them to be able to handle Spivak seems fair to me.

    The average high school student in Ontario (devious_ seems a definite exception if he's into Apostol) is woefully underprepared. Removing the grade 13 a few years back has only made it worse. (never did I call them 'just lazy' though)
  10. Apr 1, 2005 #9
    devious_ isn't in Ontario, though!

    I was in the first year that graduated from the new 12-grade system. I made a point of knowing everything in the OAC math curriculum (and perhaps some more, too~) before starting university, though.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2005
  11. Apr 1, 2005 #10


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    How forgetful of me! devious_ is indeed not an exception to the average woefully-underprepared ontario high school student :smile:. He is almost certainly better prepared than the bulk of them though.
  12. Apr 1, 2005 #11
    No question there.
  13. Apr 2, 2005 #12
    Data, what high school did you go to?
  14. Apr 2, 2005 #13

    my dad is a teacher & whenever people don't like him as a teacher, or try to criticize the system or whatever he just says they're lazy & that's the real problem. i had an english teacher in grade 12 also who told us that whenever people write about how messed up schools are on the provincial exam (a dumb topic) the essays are read out loud by the marker & everybody in the room has a good laugh. i guess i've come to expect that sort of thing from people in that business & it's probably unfair to the rest, who actually do a good job.
  15. Apr 2, 2005 #14
    ooo, I haven't met anyone else from Ottawa here yet :smile:

    J.S. Woodsworth~
  16. May 6, 2005 #15
    Well, I've gotten the decisions from all the schools a few weeks ago, and ultimately decided to accept Waterloo's offer. :smile:

    There is one thing I'm not understanding very well, however. I received an offer for Honours Computer Science and an offer for Honours Pure Mathematics. I sent an email asking if I can accept both offers, but I was told that I can only pick one; the idea of studying one of the two alone, however, isn't very satisfying. I'm not very familiar with the Canadian system, but can't I accept one of the offers and then double-major in both once I enroll?

    Last edited: May 6, 2005
  17. May 6, 2005 #16
    there is a programme at waterlloo taht does both...perhaps you applied for the wrong one...double check the handbook or website to find out...i had a couple of friends who went into the cs/math major(its not a double major...its a combined major) but they dropped out cuz its intense...and if your american..did you apply to only canadian schools? i find that kind of odd, but to each his own
  18. May 7, 2005 #17
    I'm currently living abroad, but I did apply to American schools. It's just that I'm more interested in going to Canada than the U.S. for the time being.

    I heard about the joint/combined major, but that's not exactly what I'm looking for. I think I'll email UW to see what I can do now.

  19. May 7, 2005 #18
    heh your looking to do a math/cs double major but not the joint major? THere's always the likely hood that you can take 5-6 years to do both.
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