Scott decides

Will it be Waterloo or McMaster?


It’s finally come down to it: biology, biomedical sciences, or health studies. Three programs from Waterloo went into my OUAC application account. After May 28th, only one will remain.I’ve finally gotten over the rejection of not being accepted into McMaster’s Health Sciences program. I’m trying not to take it too personally and do something like egg Health Science’s car, or call him at home and after he says, “Hello?” just breathe deeply and cryptically into the receiver.

That, and whisper Aztec curses into the ear of my Health Sciences voodoo doll.

My marks just weren’t high enough. Especially when you consider that more students applied to McMaster’s Health Sciences program than there are vowels in ‘Ottawa.’

Looking back, it wasn’t going to work with Health Sciences anyway. McMaster was way too jealous about my relationship with Waterloo. We were drifting apart.

I was accepted into the biology program at McMaster, but after having a guided tour of the University of Waterloo campus last Saturday, I feel even more committed to it than ever.

Of course, I’ve refused to revisit McMaster’s campus out of bitterness.

Open House at the University of Waterloo

Open House at the University of Waterloo

(Pictured: Scott Dobson-Mitchell with his sister Jenny and Gary Abbott, their tour guide at Open House)

Waterloo’s campus felt… safe, a natural habitat for nerds. A place where they can roam free. A land where they no longer have to worry about the nastiness of those people who weren’t held enough as babies. Everybody was friendly and helpful, as if there’s some sense of community and kindness between students. As in, the exact opposite of high school.

I was completely culture shocked.

When the tour guide, an engineering student named Gary, spoke to us — a large group of prospective students with our parents — he didn’t instinctively speak in a dull monotone. You know, to make sure everybody knew that he couldn’t care less about the subject matter. Which is shorthand for Cool, of course.

In complete disregard of basic high school survival instincts, Gary made full eye contact, spoke in complete sentences, and was enthusiastic.

It suddenly dawned on me: I was on a university campus.

Even when I asked a completely lame question, effectively spreading the scent of vulnerability in a 20-mile radius, the tour guide didn’t take it as a license to be a jerk. Gary had asked me if I had any questions. I could have asked about the cafeteria, or the student library, or the bussing service. As in, questions that made sense.

I asked if there was a fencing team at Waterloo. And no, we hadn’t just been talking about sports teams. Or goofy black masks.

If a high school student had been there, my exposed jugular would have bled out within 3.2 seconds. If Freud had been there, he would have said that I clearly have a repressed desire to become a pirate (that, or a repressed desire to kill my father). Or maybe I was subconsciously testing the system, seeing whether university students will revert to a primitive grade nine state if their predator instinct is activated.

“Yes, we have fencing here,” said Gary, “but if a fencing club didn’t already exist, you could start one yourself.”

I was able to totally lower my defenses, completely shedding my protective high school shell. I was safe. I was Home.

And then I realized I still have 14 days of high school left.

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Scott decides

  1. I had been waiting to read about your final choice. I’m glad you found a place that felt comfortable to you. I’m not sure I want to think too much about you handling fencing foils, but that’s the mother in me.

    Is Jenny going to go there too?

  2. Hey Scott!

    Your blog is awesome! It offers a unique and telling view of the process of picking a school. Definitely a neat read for prospective students beginning that process. Congratulations again on deciding to join us here at Waterloo – it’s going to be a blast! Thanks for the kind words in your article, and hopefully see you around in September and the years to come!

    All the best,

  3. Hey Scott,

    While I recruit for Arts I was thrilled to hear that you had a great day at You @ Waterloo Day. We try really hard to make sure that our visitors are taken care of and enjoy themselves while on campus.

    It’s so very true – we do have great students here and there is a place for everyone at UW. I’m very proud of that fact and very proud to be a UW grad myself.

    So welcome to Science from all of us in Arts.

    Stephanie Checketts
    Arts Student Recruitment Manager
    University of Waterloo

  4. As a student at the University of Waterloo, and not one who earns a living selling the school, I feel a compelling urge to correct your interpretation…

    Then again my thesis advisor might come across this page…

  5. I’m so glad that you found your place, Scott!

    You can make it through High School, I know you can! Just a few more days to go! You’re so lucky that you’re graduating early. *Sigh* I’ve still got two more years, although, I am considering trying to graduate next year. I’ve already take two 4U courses, and will be taking more next year, so, maybe I can manage something.

    Anyway, one quick question, will you be continuing this blog next year?

    Sarah :)

  6. Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to welcome me to Waterloo! I really did enjoy the day I spent there, and look forward to spending the next four years at Waterloo. (not counting time spent in chemistry class)

    Hey Gary,

    Thanks again for the tour. I can now claim to know two people at Waterloo. (You and my sister Jenny)

    And Carson, who the hell is smacking you around? Do you need me and my two closest friends at Waterloo to straighten somebody out?


  7. Hey Sarah,

    It’s always great to hear from you! I feel for you about having two more years of high school left. Ugh. The good news is, I swear, it gets better after grade ten.

    As for continuing to write for Macleans next year, I’d really love to, but that’s up to them. Of course, feel free to write them numerous letters, urging them to keep me on as a writer. And please feel free to beg all of your friends to do so, also, on my behalf. Thanks.


  8. Hey Vicki,

    Yes, my sister Jenny is also going to be attending Waterloo, thank goodness. It means I’ll have someone to trail behind the first week, making bleating sounds every once in a while.

    Oh, and don’t worry about me handling the tin foil. I’m more worried about the swords.


  9. Congrats to both you and Jenny on selecting a great program! Are you setting up your “new patient list” yet? If I pass the interview, I’d be honoured to be a patient in the shared medical practice of Drs. S. and J. Dobson-Mitchell.

    P.S. My oldest son, Mike, graduated from UW and I remember only good things about it. I’m not completely sure what HE remembers though.

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