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 How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo
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faeronsayn




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:33 am   Post subject: How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

I'm quite worried about the Software Engineering program in University of Waterloo. I'm currently in Grade 12 and will be applying to the Software Engineering program. My current marks in my courses are the following:

Adv. Functions = 97%
Physics = 100%
Computer Science (ICS4U) = 98%
Chemistry = 94%

Expected Average: 96% +

The marks are unstable right now, since it's only been a month of school. Our school, however, is semestered so we've covered more content than non-semestered schools. I'm expecting all of my marks to stay similar except I expect my chemistry mark to rise.

Grade 11 Marks
Functions = 97%
Physics = 96%
Chemistry = 96%
Computer Science = 99% (Should be a hundred Q.Q)
English = 92%
World Religions = 96%
Travel and Tourism = 98%

So would my grade 11 marks help me get accepted into the program? If I don't have any extra curricular activities, will that hurt my application or my chance of getting into the program?


I'm not exactly worried about getting into the Software Engineering program. I was hoping any of the second or third year students that are in this program could give their insight on how hard the first / second year of Software Engineering are compared to the later years.

Any help from second year / third year students in the program would be appreciated. All other help is also appreciated obviously Smile
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Tony




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:06 am   Post subject: Re: How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

faeronsayn @ Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:33 am wrote:
I was hoping any of the second or third year students that are in this program could give their insight on how hard the first / second year of Software Engineering are compared to the later years.

In upper years you'll be taking more advanced courses than in first. You'll get better each year, but for most students the complexity of work will proportionally increase as well.
Latest from compsci.ca/blog: Tony's programming blog. DWITE - a programming contest.
faeronsayn




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:46 am   Post subject: Re: How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

Tony @ Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:06 am wrote:
faeronsayn @ Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:33 am wrote:
I was hoping any of the second or third year students that are in this program could give their insight on how hard the first / second year of Software Engineering are compared to the later years.

In upper years you'll be taking more advanced courses than in first. You'll get better each year, but for most students the complexity of work will proportionally increase as well.


How hard is it in the first year? I heard averages of 65% are normal. Could you clarify if second year will be easier than the first in terms of marks.
mirhagk




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:55 am   Post subject: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

Yeah averages are 65% especially in comp engineering or comp sci because they don't look at your aptitude for your course, they look at your high school mark. That means there are some students taking courses that give out easy high marks, and/or are completely irrelevant to computer science.

That means in university that there are 2 types of students for comp sci (and comp eng too I believe), those who can do it, and those who can't. There are more of those who can't, but if you take out their marks, the average would probably be 85% or so. I don't study (I actually have a personal objection to studying, and no it's not because I'm lazy) and I have >95% in both my comp sci courses (actually over 100 in one), I am breezing through econ (though there's been no formal marks, I've gotten >95% on the practice midterms). The only one I'm struggling with is math (around 85%).

I don't consider myself an exceptional student, I just have an aptitude towards problem solving, which is what is required for all my courses. The class average in those classes are all about 65%, but it's heavily weighted on the many students who can't do it at all (and get 50% or less)

If you like programming, and can program FizzBuzz, I imagine you'll have an easy time getting 80s (which is the high school equivalent of 90s)
Tony




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:25 pm   Post subject: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

When I was at University, a ~15% drop in grades was normal. ~70% class average is what professors seem to aim for (so if the class does much better on the midterm, it's quite likely that exam will be made harder to compensate and bring the average back down).

The University is supposed to be there to push your boundaries. If one is "breezing through" a course, then they are not getting better. A 100% does not mean "know everything", but just that not enough was asked.
Latest from compsci.ca/blog: Tony's programming blog. DWITE - a programming contest.
mirhagk




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:33 pm   Post subject: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

I agree tony. But first year computer science courses are irrelevant to anyone who's done any programming. I'm sitting here reading my CIL assembly language book because my teacher is currently explaining how binary numbers work (I don't know if anyone knows this but I literally have a tattoo of a word using ASCII binary on my arm. This lesson is not targeted towards me lol).

I'd like it if universities let you skip over courses for things you know already (or can pick up in about 1 week, ie my intro to python class). Alas that's not true, and I feel like my 3rd year is going to be the 1st for me.
[Gandalf]




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:23 pm   Post subject: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

It gets a lot harder every year, but you'll deal with it.
crossley7




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:05 pm   Post subject: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

I'm a month into first year CS and there is a noticeable step up in my experience. I have talked to people in SE and the program is fairly different for them right now but you need to be ready to learn.

Be ready to adapt to new methods of solving things, learn to forget everything you thought you knew about computer science in high school and get back to the basics (it sounds pathetic, but in CS we start at the very beginning of Racket/Scheme and slowly work our way up. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me). Be ready to think abstractly to solve problems and dig deep when hard ones come along and if you actually do your work, they will come around often.

Be ready to try new things. I was confident in m ability to program and being forced to go back and restart (although at a faster pace being in the advanced level course) is the best thing for actual learning I have done.

I had similar marks to you entering university so I'm sure you will be in a similar spot and my recommendation is that you can do well and this post is not meant to scare you but be prepared to work HARD and you should be fine. Marks are less important generally than the work habits and learning skills you have.
faeronsayn




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:18 pm   Post subject: Re: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

crossley7 @ Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:05 pm wrote:
I'm a month into first year CS and there is a noticeable step up in my experience. I have talked to people in SE and the program is fairly different for them right now but you need to be ready to learn.

Be ready to adapt to new methods of solving things, learn to forget everything you thought you knew about computer science in high school and get back to the basics (it sounds pathetic, but in CS we start at the very beginning of Racket/Scheme and slowly work our way up. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me). Be ready to think abstractly to solve problems and dig deep when hard ones come along and if you actually do your work, they will come around often.

Be ready to try new things. I was confident in m ability to program and being forced to go back and restart (although at a faster pace being in the advanced level course) is the best thing for actual learning I have done.

I had similar marks to you entering university so I'm sure you will be in a similar spot and my recommendation is that you can do well and this post is not meant to scare you but be prepared to work HARD and you should be fine. Marks are less important generally than the work habits and learning skills you have.


Thanks for the kind advice. I'm not planning on slacking off but I would be quite discouraged to see my marks go down to 50s or 60s from my current marks. As some of you have stated it seems as though 90s are converted to about 80s in universities? That's not much of a problem for me.

I've also heard that you need at least an 80% average to apply to co-op in Waterloo? Does your average determine how good of a job you get in co-op?
Tony




PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:43 pm   Post subject: Re: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

faeronsayn @ Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:18 pm wrote:
Does your average determine how good of a job you get in co-op?

The kind of jobs you apply to will determine how good of a job you might get (though in first years, students often have no differentiating factors from each other, other than school grades).
Latest from compsci.ca/blog: Tony's programming blog. DWITE - a programming contest.
Sur_real




PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 4:54 pm   Post subject: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

Ok I'm in 2nd year soft eng and if you truly like programming, I don't think you need to worry. Even though it gets harder in later years, you'll find it interesting since you like it and therefore you'll be more inclined to work harder.

The thing is, in high school, it's really hard to for many people to determine/differentiate between what is easy and what they like (often people like it because it's easy not because they truly like it).

If you wanna see what kind of courses Soft Eng students take, you might want to check out the undergrad calendar: http://ugradcalendar.uwaterloo.ca/page/ENG-Software-Engineering
(This goes for any other program too Smile)
mirhagk




PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:02 pm   Post subject: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

Yeah having worked at a company that hires university co-ops, and being pretty involved in the hiring process, I know that your marks aren't really that relevant. We skimmed the resumes to see if the person could write in english, and to see if the person seemed like they were genuinely interested in computer science (looked at courses taken, whether they mentioned any past comp sci projects, looked at where they seemed to be focusing). That let us eliminate people who couldn't communicate, and the people who were only in a semi-related field and didn't even have programming courses (or at least mentioned that they could program).

We saved most of the judgement for the interview, and genuine interest in computer science was much more important than anything else. We asked one programming question, we stressed language choice and syntax was irrelevant, and we gave them the easiest non-example program we could think of (something that you couldn't have just memorized from your course, but doesn't require a lot of thinking). We then asked the people to explain the code, and pointed out their errors, and figured out whether they could understand them.

We didn't even consider marks, my work knows that marks are pretty much irrelevant. Communication, genuine interest, and being able to reason about the simplest of programming problems is all that matters.
TerranceN




PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:35 pm   Post subject: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

I'm in computer science 2A (actually the coop work term after), so take what I say with a grain of salt since I don't know how much software engineering differs.

At the company/startup I currently work for, they threw out every resume that didn't include a link to code the applicant had written. It's really surprising how many people submit a resume that has nothing beyond past work terms and grades. So my advice: don't restrict yourself to only learning class material. Take the time to learn things in the realm of computer science / software engineering, make something with that knowledge, and you'll be ahead of a lot of people in your program.

My strategy has been to make at least one thing I'm proud of each term. The projects I have done in my spare time are the only reason I got hired into such an awesome job (especially since this is my first coop term).

Oh, and as for difficulty, I wouldn't worry too much. With the marks you're getting you should do well. For a comparison I barely got into UW with an 86% average, and I have gotten 70-75% in math courses, and 85-95% in cs courses.
faeronsayn




PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:46 pm   Post subject: Re: RE:How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

TerranceN @ Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:35 pm wrote:
I'm in computer science 2A (actually the coop work term after), so take what I say with a grain of salt since I don't know how much software engineering differs.

At the company/startup I currently work for, they threw out every resume that didn't include a link to code the applicant had written. It's really surprising how many people submit a resume that has nothing beyond past work terms and grades. So my advice: don't restrict yourself to only learning class material. Take the time to learn things in the realm of computer science / software engineering, make something with that knowledge, and you'll be ahead of a lot of people in your program.

My strategy has been to make at least one thing I'm proud of each term. The projects I have done in my spare time are the only reason I got hired into such an awesome job (especially since this is my first coop term).

Oh, and as for difficulty, I wouldn't worry too much. With the marks you're getting you should do well. For a comparison I barely got into UW with an 86% average, and I have gotten 70-75% in math courses, and 85-95% in cs courses.


That's great to here. This cheers me up quite a bit, just wondering the type of projects you are "proud of". How large are these projects that you've written at the end of every term.
TerranceN




PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:05 am   Post subject: Re: How Hard is Software Engineering in University of Waterloo

Quote:
these projects that you've written at the end of every term


I didn't write them specifically at the end of the term, just sometime within that term.

Quote:
just wondering the type of projects you are "proud of". How large are these projects that you've written


I can do one step better and link to to the projects themselves. I don't have them hosted on version control like github (which I've been meaning to do), so my website will have to suffice. Just a word of warning, my website if being redesigned and I'm making a web server in haskell (which is this term's project for me), so not all links work and I need to fix the styling.

Highschool grade 12 second semester:
A long time ago I made a geometry wars clone. Funny enough, two months ago I found out someone took that code, started selling it on steam and has been improving it for two years. Anyway, I remade it for fun during that semester.

UW 1A:
I made this 2D lighting demo.

UW 1B:
I participated in the Global Game Jam. (warning: this is very half-baked)
And I made this spring physics demo.

UW 2A:
I made a networking library for myself (which I've tried to do many times in the past and failed) that has a reliability layer on top of udp, and I had plans on implementing in-order packets as well. This is a little harder to show, so I haven't uploaded it, or even looked at it recently. Honestly I'm afraid to after having so much fun learning haskell.
Also, not sure if this really counts (it's not very long), but I made tetris in pygame the night before the interview I had with my current employer, to show them my language flexibility (as I had very rarely used python before).

Now:
I'm making a web server in haskell to host my website (it's hosting my website right now). Actually I'm not even sure if you can call it a web server. All it does is run a cgi-script (still not sure how cgi differs from a normal script) that runs my program, passing in the url in the QUERY_STRING environment variable. My program then generates the appropriate page's html.
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