Helping Your Child Choose the Right Online Course

Whether your child is selecting their first or final year of courses, the choices they make will impact their success moving forward. As parents, it is our job to ensure our children are choosing the path that leads them towards optimal success. In this week’s blog, my focus is helping you and your children select appropriate online high school courses by becoming knowledgeable about the wide variety of programs and options available.

To prepare for the upcoming year, you can download or browse through course listings from various online schools. When selecting a particular school, be sure to look for one that is inspected by the Ministry of Education and lists their BSID number plainly on their website or in their literature. You can also look for certified schools within your local school board, as some may be offering extended online options during the current crisis. When browsing course options at various schools, take particular note of the variety of electives available at the 11 and 12 level, as this is when students will have the most choice in what courses they take, so it’s key to choose a school that offers a good selection. For a better understanding of what is required to earn an official high school diploma in Ontario, consult this helpful website.

One of the most important steps to choosing the right course is understanding the different types or levels of courses available, and how you can recognize each of them. When deciding on the type of course to sign your student up for, it is crucial to keep in mind that these choices can affect the pathways available to them in later years. Of course, those doors are not permanently closed, as students can repeat subjects or complete ‘transfer’ courses to bridge the gaps between the different types of courses. However, it is important to choose wisely based on the student’s interests, capabilities, and intended post-secondary pursuits.

The four primary course types, and their most common post-secondary pathways, are:

    1. Academic, designated by a “D” in the course code. These courses focus on theory and abstract problems. They can satisfy any prerequisites, but typically lead to University (U) or Mixed University/College (M) pathways in Grades 11 & 12.

    2. Applied, designated by a “P” in the course code. These courses focus on practical applications and concrete examples. Applied courses typically lead to College (C) or Mixed University/College (M) pathways in Grades 11 & 12. It is important to note that taking applied courses across the board in Grades 9 & 10 can limit options to University pathways in later years.

    3. Open, designated by an “O” in the course code. These are optional courses that prepare students for further study and enrich their education. At the Grade 11 & 12 level, these courses are accepted by all pathways; however, they do not count towards an admissions average for most university or college programs.

    4. Locally Developed, designated by an “L” in the course code. This course type is only available for compulsory credit courses (i.e. English, Math, Science) and is intended for students who need additional support to perform at grade level. Locally Developed courses can only lead to Workplace (E) or Open (O) level courses in Grades 11 & 12. Students seeking to move into College or University programs would need to retake these courses at the appropriate level.

You should also know that students can mix the types of courses they take, according to their needs across different subject areas. For example, a student who struggles in Math but excels in all other subjects, may choose to take Math at the Applied level, but continue in the Academic stream for their other subjects. Alternatively, if your child has no intentions of pursuing French studies beyond the required grade 9 credit, there is no harm in taking that particular course at the Applied level to allow for greater success.

Finally, while it’s true that most students complete their diploma in 4 years, you should know that this is not the only option. Flexible online programs, like Ontario Virtual School, allow students to take as much (or as little) time as they need to complete the 30 required credits in order to earn their diploma. It’s also important to note that students are limited to earning 34 credits through public school boards; however, additional credits can be taken through private online schools to fulfill post-secondary requirements or as additional interest courses, as necessary.

In making your high school choices, we hope you will consider Ontario Virtual School. With more than a decade of proven excellence in e-learning, OVS is proud to offer more than 80 Ministry-inspected courses taught by OCT-certified instructors who are dedicated to ensuring your child’s success. Quality lessons, varied teacher-led assessments and outstanding customer service form the building blocks of Ontario Virtual School. Whether you are looking to sign on part-time or full-time, our dedicated guidance and student success teams are available to help you choose the right courses to suit your learner’s specific needs and interests.

Rob Ford
OCT, B.Ed, C.P.C.O., TESOL, N.C.C.P.
Ontario Virtual School, Director of Marketing
Email: [email protected]

Additional Resources:
1) The Ministry of Education’s General Guide to High School in Ontario
2) Understanding Course Selection Pathways
3) The OSSD Requirement Checklist
4) A Newcomer’s Guide to High School in Ontario