• Dwaine Praught


Now is the time of year when high school students in Grades 10 and 11 select their courses for next year. No doubt a large portion of students will wait until the final deadline to fill out their forms and perhaps rush to get it done, which could lead to difficulties down the road. Fortunately most schools will allow the students to make changes to their selections in the coming weeks should they change their mind. The following is a guideline for students and parents to use in making their selections.

A - First and foremost, ensure that the student is on track to meet the requirements for graduation. Most students will have fulfilled all the required courses (except grade 12 english and math) by the end of Grade 11, allowing more flexibility in their selections for Grade 12, which the students will really appreciate should they not decide on a career path until their senior year.

B - Students wishing to attend post-secondary school will be submitting their Grade 11 transcripts with their application, thus their performance will greatly influence their success in accessing their programs of choice. Although acceptance will be conditional upon Grade 12 results, the only way to receive early admission is through an impressive Grade 11 year. Thus it may be prudent to build a balanced course load: meeting all necessary entrance requirements and maintaining a manageable workload.

C - To be eligible for University, students must submit at least 6 U or M level courses on their transcripts. College requirements are not as standardized and differ by program, but most high demand programs will also have a required minimum number of college level courses (U, M or C) to be included in the calculation of admission averages. Eligibility averages are typically calculated using a component of the eligible course grades (e.g. top 6) rather than an average of all courses, enabling students to exclude a poor grade or two should they have more than the minimum number of courses required. Therefore it is usually a good strategy to enroll in more than the minimum number of required courses in Grade 11 (take more than 6 level U/M courses) to allow a student to exclude a poor result should they struggle with a course.

D - Identify the potential career pathway the child is considering (even for Grade 10 students). Look up the admission requirements for the program of interest at one or two schools of interest to determine the student's eligibility - note both the minimum grade point average and the prerequisite Grade 12 courses required. In turn, each of these grade 12 courses will likely have prerequisite Grade 11 courses of their own which should be selected by students entering Grade 11 next year.

Example: Health Sciences:

  • McMaster - 90% average and completion of six U/M level Grade 12 courses including English, Math, Biology, Chemistry and one course outside of math, science or technology.

  • Wilfred Laurier - admission average is only mid 80s, but each of the required courses must meet a minimum 60% average and the math credit must include Relations and Functions.

  • Each of the above Grade 12 requirements will have required Grade 11 prerequisites. This is why it is important to look ahead.

E - Consider a back-up plan. Numerous factors can come into play which will divert a students initial plans - failure to meet eligibility requirements, development of new interests, unpleasant experiences and the like. Try to anticipate such changes and use a portion of student's elective options to address an alternative career plan. Putting all the eggs in one basket could have long term consequences which are difficult to rectify. Having to attend post-graduate summer school or use post-secondary electives for meeting prerequisite requirements may derail a good career plan.

F - Summer school in Grade 10 or Grade 11 or on-line courses are options for students wishing to take more electives, lessen the workload throughout the year or increase the number of qualifying courses is another strategy students can use to provide additional wiggle room in advance of graduation.

Most of the above is predicated on the student having a career plan in mind. For students that remain undecided or who have yet to consider their career options, there is still ample time to generate a plan before their course selections are finalized.

We at Dynamic Career Pathways are ready to help. Give us a call.