Gr. 11-12 Course Selection
Selecting Gr. 11 Courses
There are some not-so-good reasons for choosing a specific course: ‘friends taking it,’ ‘good teacher,’ ‘easy course/high marks,’ ‘parents making me take it.’ These can be great supporting factors, but they should not be the main reason behind selecting a course. Instead, consider whether you are likely to need this course in preparation for your future post-secondary options & beyond.
A much wider array of course options are on your doorstep. Several subjects are divided (sciences, history, business, etc.), and some never-before-seen subjects appear (i.e. humanities, law, economics, etc.). It is for these reasons that course selection decisions should not made lightly.
Some reflection on your education direction is helpful (i.e. from careers class). It is vital to begin researching & seeking out experiences that can begin to shape the direction you are headed for post-secondary options.
A quick note about some changing terminology: no longer are there academic and applied courses; rather, they are named after the post-secondary education that they point to: University, College, or Mixed (either university or college-bound). There are still some courses that are offered as Open courses, but they all but disappear in the upper grades.
In selecting your grade 11 courses, know that it may limit which grade 12 courses you can take based on what the prerequisites are for the grade 12 courses. Know that you might need to take specific grade 12 courses for entrance into specific university or college programs of interest. This is why diversity is very important.
In addition, you should talk to key people to help you make wise decisions: guidance counsellors or classroom teachers, and parents. The tricky part is when you get different advice from the various sources. In that case, be sure to stick to the overall selection guidelines: diversify course load, and choose an appropriate course load.
re-take a course?
If you failed the first time and you need or want the credit, consider taking the course or investigating other options.
Taking a course a second time because you didn't do as well as you had hoped (but you passed) generally is not a good idea in grades 11 and 12. That's because universities and colleges will see on your high school transcript that you took the course more than once. Some institutions when calculating averages for admission will penalize you. Do your homework on that one.
There may be cause for taking a grade 9 or 10 course a second time if it means that you desire to stay on the academic/university track.
Specialist High Skills major (SHSM)
Some of Ontario's public and separate schools offer a Specialist High Skills Major in selected fields to grade 11s and 12s.
In order for students to earn an SHSM seal on their diploma, they must complete a specific bundle of courses in a selected field, earn industry certifications, and complete a related co-operative education placement.
See a complete list of school boards offering different SHSM fields in 2019-2020.
International baccalaureate (IB) Diploma programme (DP)
This 2-year program for grade 11 and 12 is geared to the self-motivated, highly academic students who are looking for a challenge. The IB Diploma Programme is recognized globally for how it prepares students for success in university.
Some private schools provide the option of DP. Many public and separate school boards have specific schools that offer the program. Generally, to be accepted into the IB Diploma Program is a rigorous process.
Advanced placement (AP) courses
Some schools/school boards offer Advanced Placement course options (sometimes as part of a whole programme). These are university-level courses that students would take in their final year(s) of high school.
To find out more about AP courses in general, check out The College Board or for specific AP courses offered at your local school/board, look at your local school board website.
Selecting Gr. 12 Courses
Your course selection will largely be determined by your intended post-secondary pathways of interest. A year ago, you made some decisions that hopefully kept your options open (i.e. you have the prerequisites to take a wide variety of courses). So, you may need to review the decisions made in grade 11 & look forward to the post-secondary programs of interest. Be sure that you have all of the required prerequisites for the post-secondary programs that you intend to apply to.
If you haven’t narrowed the range of programs you intend to apply to, you have about 9 months to do so if you intend to go directly to a university or college program. Foundations Career Coaching’s career exploration tools can provide some helpful tips and questions to consider as you seek to clarify your future pathway.