A Plan for High School for Ontario Homeschoolers

QUESTION: If my admission will be based on only 12U credit courses or standardized tests written in my last year of home schooling, then how do I structure the earlier high school years?

Plan backwards: Determine when you will need final grades and scores and make a reasonable timetable of study working backwards. Generally, 1-2 years is a good length of time to study for a high-stakes standardized test. Subject tests (SAT II or AP) will require at least a full year’s worth of study to prepare for the test, but also may require 1 – 3 years of prerequisite study of earlier topics leading up to the tested material.

Choose a curriculum method:
You may find it easy to pick one series of textbooks and generally follow it up through the high school grades to ensure that you are following a comprehensive curriculum. You may prefer to design your own “skills/knowledge” based curriculum where you research the specific skills and topics required (e.g. Quadratic Functions, Trigonometric Ratios) to achieve your goals and then simply use a variety of texts or internet resources to research and study each particular topic.

Be disciplined: Don’t put off studying simply because the test is so far away. These tests may only be one day events, but they are intended to measure years’ worth of preparation.

Read: Read anything you can get your hands on, and read critically. Read not only to understand the content of the text, but also how the writing style itself conveys meaning. Make every text an opportunity to discuss how an author gets his meaning across to the reader. Don’t just study literature; read newspaper and journal articles, textbooks and other non-fiction works.

Write: Writing may not feel like a natural activity, but strong writing skills are essential to success in most university programs. Encourage any kind of writing such as journals, letters to the editor (or mom and dad!), stories and book or film reviews. At all times, stress clarity of thought and expression. Remember that writing is an attempt to communicate and successful writing is writing that gets its point across well!

QUESTION: How early do I have to start planning?

The answer will depend on whether you choose to include standardized tests, 12U credits and/or a portfolio in your university application.

High School Diploma: start taking credit courses in “Grade 9″
Standardized Tests: follow a challenging English/Math program through “Grades 9 and 10″ and begin test prep in fall Gr. 11
12U credit courses: follow a challenging English/Math program through “Grades 9 and 10″ and begin with one or two (easier) 12U credit courses in fall of Grade 11
Portfolio: document activities starting in “Grade 9″ and start producing samples of admission-level work in “Grade 11″

General Admissions Timelines
“Grades 9 and 10″

  • Decide on your admissions strategy (Standardized Tests, 12U credit courses (“Top Six”), Portfolio/Transcripts, Mature student entry)
  • Research admission policies at your schools of interest (Do they have a homeschool policy already in place? Is there a homeschool contact person in university?)
  • Contact universities to confirm policies and establish relationship
  • Personal thinking/planning about future (Am I a “science” person? A “history” person? Do I have a specific profession in mind? Do I want to attend university right after high school?)
  • Begin formal documentation for portfolios/transcripts
  • Consult Ministry of Education course descriptions for lists of curriculum topics by grade
  • Collect samples of work, externally-evaluated if possible)
  • Keep exhaustive list of activities and use edu-speak to translate into courses
  • Start regular, academic writing (Argumentative/persuasive writing, report writing, grammar and style, research and documentation, organization and structure)
  • Analysis of texts and literature (fiction and non-fiction) including reading for meaning and content; understanding tone, perspective, and bias; use of figurative language; themes and character development in works of fiction
  • Regular diet of algebra including basic arithmetic and order of operations; integers, fractions, decimals; solving equations; rate, ratio, percent and proportion; linear and quadratic functions; linear and quadratic equations and systems of equations; analytic geometry; polynomials and factoring

“Grade 11″ – credit courses or personalized study program for standardized tests

  • Attend university fairs (usually in the fall)
  • Visit university campuses – when students are there!
  • Language Development
    • Continue regular writing and revising – style and sentence variety
    • Work on improving, enriching vocabulary – consider studying some elements of Latin, Greek
    • Read challenging texts, including those which are open to interpretation
    • Studies in current events/world issues
    • Elementary Logic, especially logical reasoning and fallacies for the purposes of evaluating arguments, identifying faulty reasoning
    • Traditional Grammar Study for clear, concise communication
  • Mathematics Development
    • Humanities students: Continue studies from Grades 9 and 10, working towards proficiency in these skills, and/or SAT preparation
    • Business students: this should be a pre-calculus year with an added emphasis on statistics and probability-if possible, write AP Statistics exam this May-(or with the intention of pursuing this next year)
    • Social Science students: studies from Grades 9 and 10, working towards proficiency in these skills, and/or SAT preparation with an emphasis on statistics and probability (or with the intention of pursuing this next year)
    • Science students: this should be a pre-calculus year (physics students should also consider this a pre-linear algebra year)
    • Math/Computer science students: this should be a pre-calculus and pre-linear algebra year. Completion of the equivalent of 11U Mathematics (Ontario) or Algebra 2 (U.S.) should be the goal.
  • Standardized Test Preparation (if applicable)
    • Start prep for SAT (and any AP exams) in the fall
    • Write SAT (May or June)
    • Write AP exams (May)
  • Credit course route
    • Take one or two 12U courses in first semester (easy ones!)
    • Take one or two 12U courses in second semester
  • Research universities – Method A: By School
    • Close to home vs. far away?
    • Finances and Scholarships?
    • Size of campus/classes?
    • Size of city/town?
  • Research universities – Method B: By Program
    • Where is the program available?
    • Co-op or internship possibilities?
    • Specialization or general?

“Grade 12″

  • Visit OUAC website in the fall
  • Contact OUAC in September re: applying as a home schooled student to receive appropriate login information or paper applications
  • download copy of INFO (available late Sept/October) for specific program requirements and application information
  • Language Development
    • Read and respond to challenging, classical texts – explore the universal themes of classic works and the elements of language used by the author to communicate his or her message
    • Use academic journals (instead of newspapers) to explore current issues
  • Choose some subjects to be studied “from the textbook” and develop the skill of learning independently from a textbook (perhaps choose a text you may be using next year in university – e.g. intro to psychology)
  • Look for opportunities to present your learning to others – form a study group or join a community organization and volunteer to present
  • Attend local seminars held by museums or local colleges/universities
  • Join or form a book club with deadlines for reading and discussion dates
  • Mathematics Development
    • Humanities students: No further mathematics is required beyond studies from Grades 9 and 10, and/or SAT preparation.
    • Business students: study calculus (formally or informally) this year with an added emphasis on statistics and probability if not previously studied. Plan to write SAT II Mathematics and/or AP Calculus in the spring, and AP Statistics, if not previously written.
    • Social Science students: Plan to write AP Statistics in May.
    • Science students: study calculus (formally or informally) and possibly linear algebra. Write SAT II Math and/or AP Calculus in the spring
    • Math/Computer science students: study calculus and linear algebra (formally or informally) with the intention of writing SAT II Mathematics and/or AP Calculus in the spring
  • Standardized Test Prep
    • Revisit prep for SAT in the fall
    • Start AP and/or SAT II preparation in the fall
    • Rewrite SAT (before December)
    • Write AP exams (May)
    • Write SAT II subject exams (Spring)
  • Credit courses
    • Take two or three 12U courses in first semester (ideally, have 6 done!)
    • Take one or two 12U courses in second semester, if desired/necessary
  • Other options
    • Volunteer placements
    • Internships, job shadowing
    • Online university/college courses
    • Competitions (e.g. music, academic)
    • Special camps/activities hosted by universities or community groups
    • Offer tutoring and/or mentoring to younger students
    • Outside certification courses (e.g. cooking, technology, athletics, public speaking, technical writing, swiming) in areas of interest and/or teaching classes in these areas
    • Specialized research project
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High School Credit Courses for Ontario Homeschoolers

Many families choose to include accredited Ontario high school courses into their high school home school program. These are courses that are taught in a classroom, online or by correspondence by an accredited Ontario school (or school board) including courses from the ILC (Independent Learning Centre).

Although it is possible to get into university without any high school courses, some universities do offer academic merit scholarships on the basis of 12U grades alone. Some universities have stated that they prefer students to submit 12U marks for university admission because it simplifies the process of comparing home schoolers to the traditional pool of applicants.

With many Ontario universities accepting the “Top Six” for university entrance, you do not have to take all 30 credits required by the provincial high school diploma (OSSD) to gain admission to an Ontario university. In many cases, simply taking six 12U courses is acceptable. However, if you want to enter the credit system and jump right into Grade 12, then it is your responsibility to plan a reasonable program of study a few years in advance so that you’ll be ready for these senior level courses.

Also read Sarah’s article Virtual High Schooling: Is it right for me? to gain added insight into these courses for home schoolers.

Schools offering 12U credits to home schoolers:

Independent Learning Centre – Ontario Credits by Correspondance
TDSB Virtual School (Toronto)
Virtual High School Homepage
Virtual Learning Centre
Canada e-School
Bishop Strachan e-Academy

[links updated 2017-05-10]

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The Top Six Average in Ontario

What does the phrase “Top Six” mean for Ontario university admissions?

“Top Six” refers to the six senior (12U and sometimes 12M) Ontario high school courses that are averaged (with equal weighting) to determine your “university admission average” (like a GPA) by Ontario universities.

Which courses/grades are included in the Top Six?

Your Top Six average is calculated based on a combination of required and elective courses and your individual admission average varies from school to school, and even from program to program!

When you apply to an Ontario university, the admissions department will receive a list of your grades for all courses at the 11 and 12 level, but they don’t initially see all of those grades. Your academic transcript is reduced to a single admissions average by a computer calculation that takes into account only six of your Grade 12 courses at the “U” or “M” level.

All university programs require a total of six Grade 12 courses, but they generally don’t dictate exactly which six courses you must have. Typically, an arts program will have only 1 or 2 specific requirements, and the remaining courses can be any 12U courses, as long as there are six in total. Science programs, however, may specifically list four, five or even all six requirements, thereby limiting your ability to “fill up” your six credits with electives.

All the required 12U courses for your program will be automatically included in the Top Six. If your program requires 12U English, for example, then your English grade will be used in your “Top Six” (university admissions average). After all the program’s required courses have been included, then the university will take your highest remaining elective grades until six grades have been included. So, when it comes to required courses, you have no choice but to use those marks. As for electives, they will give you the benefit of the doubt and use the highest grades available to fill out your Top Six. Of course, if you only take six credits, all six will be used. It is only in the event that you take more than six credits that you have the pick of your highest elective marks.

Not all of your courses have to be 12U courses. Most universities will allow you to apply with some number of 12M courses in your top six. But, many schools or programs limit the number of 12M courses that can be used. This usually doesn’t affect many applicants, but if you have taken several 12M courses and are applying to a program with very few required 12U courses, you could be affected by this limit.

Let’s see this in action . . .

Assume a student earns the following marks in the following 12U/M courses:

English 82%
Calculus 79%
History 93%
Art 87%
French 88%
Data Management 81%
Chemistry 92%
Biology 62%

Here’s how his Top Six average would be calculated for different universities/programs:

Life Sciences (Required courses: English, 2 sciences, 1 math)

83% average based on:
English (required)
Chemistry (required as 1 of 2 sciences)
Biology (required as 2 of 2 sciences)
Data Management (required as 1 math — this is the higher mark so this one will be used as the requirement)
History (highest remaining mark after requirements are included)
French (next highest remaining mark after requirements are included)

Business (Required courses: English, Calculus, Data Management, 1 social science)

85.8% average based on:
English (required)
Calculus (required)
Data Management (required)
History (required as a social science)
Chemistry (highest remaining mark after requirements are included)
French (next highest remaining mark after requirements are included)

English (Required courses: English)

87.1% average based on:
English (required)
History (highest remaining mark after requirements are included)
Chemistry (next highest remaining mark after requirements are included)
French (next highest remaining mark after requirements are included)
Art (next highest remaining mark after requirements are included)
Data Management (next highest remaining mark after requirements are included)

As you can see, the courses included in your Top Six will vary from program to program. Therefore, knowing which programs you’re applying to and what pre-requisites are required is key to creating the highest Top Six score possible.

To maximize your Top Six:

  • Put your greatest effort into earning high marks in your program’s pre-requisites. These marks will count.  Note that 12U English is a requirement for just about every program at every school. You should assume that this course will factor into your Top Six, even if you will be applying to a science, math or business program.
  • Take more than six 12U courses so that you will have electives to choose from. You may wish to spread these courses out over your Gr. 11 and 12 year, and/or use summer school, night school or distance courses. Consider taking fewer 11U courses, which can’t be used towards your admissions average and take 12U courses instead.
  • Don’t forget that some schools offer credit for extra-curricular involvement (music ensembles, student newspaper) and sometimes these credits are at the 12U level. These courses can not only give you extra electives to choose from (or reduce your class load so that you can focus on fewer classes) but also give you experiences that will benefit you far beyond university admissions.

Remember the above tips are for maximizing your Top Six average (and consequently your chances for university admission), not for maximizing your overall educational experience!  Above all, make reasonable and responsible choices, consider your short-term and long-term goals and play to your interests and strengths when making your course selections.

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The University Application Process in Ontario

updated by Marian Buchanan on 2020-02-23


How do I get an application?

Applications to all public Ontario universities are submitted through a common application centre, OUAC (Ontario University Application Centre). All students submit one online application that will be forwarded to each specific Ontario university you select. Students enrolled in a full-time day high school will apply using form 101. Other students, including homeschoolers who have not returned to school for Grade 12 and homeschoolers earning credits via distance/online education will apply using form 105. These services were developed to facilitate the process of applying to the Ontario universities. They reduce duplication in application processing, and save time and resources for applicants and the universities.

What does it cost?

The OUAC collects a base application fee [$150 as of 2020]. This fee entitles the applicant to select 3 different university/program combinations. These may be programs at 3 separate universities, or 3 different degree programs at the same university, or any combination thereof. Additional selections may be made at the cost of $50 per additional selection. It will be expensive, but in theory you can apply to dozens of schools/programs if you desire. The only overall restriction on your application is that you may apply to no more than three programs at any one university. Individual universities may have their own specific restrictions, which will be outlined on the OUAC website. It has also become common practice for individual universities to impose additional application fees over and above the OUAC fee. Not every school requires an additional fee, but those that do are currently charging fees in the $150 – $200 range. The OUAC website provides a break-down of current application fees according to the type of program (Ontario Law Schools: OLSAS, Ontario Medical Schools: OMSAS, Ontario Rehabilitation Sciences Programs: ORPAS, Ontario Faculties of Education: TEAS), as well as the most recent transcript request fees listed by university.

When to apply?

Most students begin their online applications in October or November of their senior (Gr. 12) year. The application account can be logged into and changed multiple times (including changes to programs and/or schools, adding selections and deleting selections), and the most recent information will be relayed to the universities.

There is no general deadline for the submission of the OUAC application; individual university deadlines vary from institution to institution and sometimes depend on the program the applicant is seeking to enter. Usually deadlines will fall in the January – April range. A list of deadlines is provided on most universities’ pages. Unless otherwise specified, the deadline date listed in the individual university information sections indicates the date by which the application must arrive at the OUAC. Even if the deadline has passed for a program in which you are interested, you may still contact the university’s admission office to find out if the deadline has been extended or if there are still spaces in the program.

Then what?

You should receive correspondence from your chosen universities in the spring. Admission decisions are generally available anywhere between March and June, although students who have been wait listed may not know for sure until after students have accepted offers in June and the university starts moving down the waiting list.

As part of your OUAC application, you will have the opportunity to request information on residence, student loans and other financial aid available to you. This information will come with correspondence from the university if you have requested it. You will be automatically considered for some scholarships, but for others, you will have to research (through eINFO or on the university’s website) and separately apply for others.

There is a final deadline in June by which students must accept a university’s offer. Then, the universities will know whether there are spaces available to offer to students who have been put on a waiting list. You may still attempt to gain admission to an Ontario university after June, although preference will have been given to those who accepted offers of admission and those who had been placed on waiting lists. There is a service available to students in June through the OUAC that lists which Ontario university programs, if any, still have space remaining. Universities are less concerned about the fact that a deadline has passed and more concerned with filling all available spaces, so it is still possible to be accepted by a university right up until the start of the school year.  Beginning in mid June you may call the Ontario Universities’ Admission Information Service at 519 823-1940, ext. ‘0’, or access the web site at: www.ouac.on.ca/101/referral.html. This website will list every university in Ontario that still has space available, with detailed lists of programs that are open.

Insider Tip!

These forms used to be filled out by hand and reviewed by a high school guidance counselor, who could point out silly mistakes on the application. One mistake that students now make is applying to the same degree program at the same university multiple times. For example, a student who desperately wants to be accepted at Guelph may think she is improving her chances by applying to Psychology, Anthropology and Sociology at Guelph. But, these are actually different majors within the same degree program: a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts).

Most Ontario universities ask for this detailed information (choice of major) for planning purposes, but understand that high school seniors may not be in the best position to know exactly which major will best suit them. Universities do not consider these choices of major binding and in fact, most universities do not ask students to formally declare a major until the completion of their first year. It is common for students to take a broad, general first year of studies and learn a bit about the disciplines, departments and professors before narrowing their studies. So, this student wasted two selections (or potentially paid for two extra selections) on her application because the electronic system won’t prevent her from making these additional choices . . . but a guidance counselor would!

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Is March Break the best time to visit prospective universities?

It’s March Break for high schools in Ontario and all the Ontario universities know it!

There are several tours and activities planned for secondary students taking advantage of the time off to visit their university choices.   During March Break you can be sure there will be plenty of representation from academic departments, the student union, clubs and services to answer your questions and sell their school.

But the March Break experience isn’t always the most accurate representation of daily life at university.

The circus of March Break activities may give you the impression that the campus is busier and more crowded than it really is. This misrepresentation is just as much a problem if you want to chill out on a mellow campus as it is if you’re hoping to find party central.

Professors, staff and students who might normally be available for a private chat find themselves swamped with hundreds of students being shuttled around from building to building for prepared presentations.

Some of the current university students may enjoy the distraction and be friendly to the throngs of high school students, but remember that the university year is shorter than the high school year.  That means these students are that much closer to their final exams than you are. You may be invading their personal space just when they are trying to buckle down, catch up after their reading week vacation, and finish off their coursework.

When you visit a university campus during your March Break, you’ll know that the university is ready for you.  There should be lots of information to take home and most buildings and facilities will be open for touring.  It’s a great time to see as much of the university as you can.

But if you really want to get a feel for what your experience there will be like, consider booking a campus tour when you can really see the university as it is most of the year.

October is often a great time to see the campus after frosh have settled down and most students are well into their classes but not scrambling to finish a semester. If you’re considering a school in a city that can be cold and snowy in the winter, early February will often allow you to see the campus in its harshest conditions.  That’s the time when you want to evaluate the distance between your residence building and your classes!

It’s not too late to get a campus tour at many Ontario universities this week, so if you don’t have any plans, consider getting in on the excitement! But remember that it is just that – excitement. For a calmer view of the university, consider also trying to get a tour later this month. Then you can follow up on your interests from the March Break tour and get a little more quality time at the university.

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Ontario University Programs not requiring ENG4U for Admission

The vast majority of Ontario universities require ENG4U to be included in your Top Six admissions average if English is your first language.  But, there are 3 general exceptions to this rule:

  1. The program is general enough that it has no stated prerequisites: any six 12U credits will do.  There are [Editor’s note: at the time this post was written] only four programs like this in Ontario, all at Carleton: Music, Humanities, Social Work and Public Affairs and Policy Management.
  2. A 12U English course is required, but it need not be specifically ENG4U. There are [Editor’s note: at the time this post was written] two Ontario Universities that are flexible as to which course can fulfill the 4U English requirement: Wilfred Laurier will accept ENG4U, ETS4U or EWC4 and Ryerson will accept any 12U English course for many (but not all) of its programs.
  3. A handful of mathematics/science/engineering based programs have so many other pre-requisites because of the demands of these programs that ENG4U is not required, although it may be strongly recommended.  These programs are listed below.  Brock, Carleton, Lakehead and Waterloo all have programs like this. [Editor’s note: at the time this post was written]

If a school or program is not listed below, then ENG4U is a requirement, even for its most general humanities program and its most demanding science program. Your best strategy is to take ENG4U to give you access to all other programs.

But, if you don’t have ENG4U, you can still apply to a select few Ontario university programs. You may wish to consider applying to an Open University instead to have a wider selection of programs to choose from.  Then, after a year of study, you can decide whether to stay at the Open University or whether to request to transfer into a bricks-and-mortar Ontario university.

Note: the following information was taken from an Admissions Guidelines and Programs of Study PDF provided by OUInfo for the 2011-2012 academic year. Programs and prerequisites may have changed in subsequent years.  Please consult Ontario Universities Info each year for the current academic information.

Brock University

Biomedical Sciences: MHF4U or MCV4U; SCH4U; two from: SBI4U, SPH4U, SES4U, a second 4U math or ENG4U. Strongly recommended subjects: ENG4U.

Biophysics: MHF4U or MCV4U; SCH4U; two from: SBI4U, SPH4U, SES4U, a second 4U math or ENG4U. Strongly recommended subjects: ENG4U, SPH4U.

Biotechnology: MHF4U or MCV4U; SCH4U; two from: SBI4U, SPH4U, SES4U, a second 4U math or ENG4U. Strongly recommended subjects: ENG4U.

Chemistry: MHF4U or MCV4U; SCH4U; two from: SBI4U, SPH4U, SES4U, a second 4U math or ENG4U. Strongly recommended subjects: ENG4U and a second 4U math.

Earth Sciences: MHF4U or MCV4U; SCH4U; two from: SBI4U, SPH4U, SES4U, a second 4U math or ENG4U. Strongly recommended subjects: ENG4U.

Environmental Geosciences: MHF4U or MCV4U; SCH4U; two from: SBI4U, SPH4U, SES4U, a second 4U math or ENG4U. Strongly recommended subject: ENG4U.

Mathematics: MHF4U and MCV4U. Strongly recommended subject: ENG4U

Neuroscience: MHF4U or MCV4U; SCH4U; two from: SBI4U, SPH4U, SES4U, a second 4U math or ENG4U. Strongly recommended subject: ENG4U

Physical Geography: MHF4U or MCV4U; one from SBI4U, SPH4U,SCH4U, or SES4U. Strongly recommended subject: ENG4U

Physics: MHF4U or MCV4U; SCH4U; two from: SBI4U, SPH4U, SES4U, a second 4U math or ENG4U. Strongly recommended subject: ENG4U.

General Science: SCH4U; MHF4U or MCV4U. Strongly recommended subject: ENG4U

Carleton University

Computer Science: all programs: MHF4U or MCV4U, plus five best 4U/M courses

Engineering: all programs: MHF4U, SCH4U, SPH4U; one of MCV4U, SBI4U or SES4U; plus two best 4U/M courses. MCV4U strongly recommended. ENG4U recommended

Humanities: Best six 4U/M courses (with Biology option: SCH4U, plus best five 4U/M courses)

Industrial Design: MHF4U, SPH4U, plus four best 4U/M courses. MCV4U is strongly recommended

Mathematics: MHF4U and MCV4U, plus four best 4U/M courses.

Biostatistics: MHF4U, MCV4U, SBI4U and SCH4U, plus two best 4U/M courses

Music: Six best 4U/M courses. ENG4U recommended

Public Affairs and Policy Management: Six best 4U/M courses. ENG4U recommended

Science: MHF4U; two of MCV4U, SBI4U, SCH4U, SES4U, or SPH4U; plus three best 4U or 4M courses. MCV4U strongly recommended. For Physics, SPH4U is strongly recommended

Honours in Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Biology, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Computational Biochemistry, Computational Biology, Food Science and Nutrition, Nanoscience, Neuroscience and Psychology: MHF4U and two of SBI4U, SCH4U, SES4U or SPH4U, plus three best 4U/M courses. MCV4U strongly recommended. (For Combined Honours programs in Chemistry and Computer Science: SCH4U andMCV4U are strongly recommended. For Honours Psychology, ENG4U is recommended.)

Honours in Earth Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Integrated Science and Combined Honours in Biology and Physics,and Chemistry and Physics: MHF4U or MCV4U; two of SBI4U, SCH4U, SES4U, or SPH4U; plus three best 4U/M courses. (For Honours Environmental Science, SBI4U and SCH4U are recommended.)

Honours in Physics, Applied Physics and Combined Honours in Mathematics and Physics: MHF4U and MCV4U; one of SPH4U, SBI4U,SCH4U or SES4U; plus three best 4U/M courses. For all programs in Physics, SPH4U is strongly recommended.

Social Work: Best six 4U/M courses. ENG4U strongly recommended

Lakehead University

Applied Science Common Year (one year upgrading for Faculty of Engineering): Six 4U/M credits; 3U/M math required, Grade 10 Academic or Applied Science is required

Engineering: MHF4U, SPH4U, SCH4U, ENG3U

Ryerson University

All Ryerson programs require a 4U English course, but many programs do not require ENG4U specifically; other English courses may be used instead.

University of Waterloo

Health Studies: SBI4U, SCH4U, plus four additional 4U/M courses. Recommended: MHF4U, ENG4U

Kinesiology: MHF4U, SCH4U, one of SBI4U or SPH4U, plus a minimum of three additional 4U/M courses.

Wilfred Laurier University

Note: all programs require one Grade 12 English course: ENG4U, ETS4U or EWC4

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Ontario Universities’ Alternative Admissions Policies

There are several ways to apply to university: as a traditional high school graduate, as a mature student and as a “homeschooler.”


According to Ontario universities, a homeschooler is a student who has not earned a high school diploma because they have undertaken a program of self-study or enrolled in a program that does not lead to a provincial high school diploma.

Not everyone who follows an alternative high school experience will identify with the label “homeschooler,” just as many self-described homeschoolers are actually following accredited curriculum studies and may even earn a high school diploma.

But if you have been doing self-study at home, enrolled at a non-accredited private school or program, following a well-known curriculum program that does not lead to a government diploma, or learning through travel and experiences, you can apply to university under the category of homeschooler. This includes students who have attended schools in younger grades but decided to leave at the high school level for a non-traditional high school experience.


A homeschooler (any student who choses a high school education path that does not lead to a provincial high school diploma) will apply to Ontario universities through the OUAC website, just like every other applicant.  But the admissions criteria will vary from university to university.

Many universities will have two different admission paths so you can choose the admission criteria that is most appropriate for your situation.  Others admit strictly on a case-by-case basis, so contacting the university a year or two before you plan to apply is key to ensure you can take any tests prepare any documentation they will require.


  1. Your application may be judged on more than just marks alone – Homeschoolers often have the opportunity to showcase other strengths, skills and experiences.
  2. Get to know an admissions counselor – Regular applicants might never make personal contact with the school through the entire admissions process. Homeschoolers often have to clarify admission details and discuss their personal situation, making a personal connection in the process. This often gives you a better insight into the schools you’re considering and seeing how they handle your application can give you a preview of how you would be treated as a student there.
  3. You can choose your own high school experience – If your local high school doesn’t offer the kind of education you want, you can create your own experience:
  • take online classes (formal or informal)
  • study from books, mentors and other resource material
  • travel or participate in unique programs
  • fit your high school academics around your schedule while pursuing competitive or professional activities such as acting, athletic training or music performance


Yes, homeschooling is legal in all Canadian provinces, but each province has its own requirement for notifying the government of your intention and its own set educational requirements that homeschoolers must respect while pursuing a high school education outside of an accredited school.


Remember, homeschoolers do not earn a high school diploma. So it is important to decide whether you need a high school diploma before deciding to homeschool for high school.

Many Canadian universities accept homeschoolers, but some do not. Of the universities that do accept homeschoolers, some universities may restrict the programs or scholarships you can apply to if they have trouble evaluating your prerequisites.

Community colleges may require a high school diploma, depending on the province.  (Ontario colleges, for example, do require a high school diploma unless the student waits until he or she is old enough to apply as a mature student.)

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AP exams for Homeschoolers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

A great way for homeschooling high school students to “prove” their academic prowess in specific subject areas is through writing Advanced Placement examinations

The problem with AP exams for homeschoolers in Ontario has always been that these exams must be written in accredited high schools who have registered to offer AP examinations. The chances of your local Ontario high school offering AP exams aren’t all that great, since the Advanced Placement program isn’t nearly as popular here as it is in the U.S.

And, even if a school near you does hold AP examinations, there’s no guarantee that they will allow outside students to write exams at their school. They are not required to open their testing doors to everyone, and some schools have very reasonable restrictions on external students on exam day.

For example, one of the leading AP schools in the province is an all girls school, and they do not allow outside students to write AP exams with their own students. How fair would it be to have their female students suddenly surrounded with boys on high stakes exam days? How fair would it be to say that only female homeschoolers can join the girls for these exams? You can obviously appreciate that there can be reasonable justifications for what may at first seem like unreasonable, exclusionary policies.

I think for a couple of years now I’ve been casually mentioning on various message boards that there’s “some school just west of Toronto” who has been open and welcoming to having homeschoolers participate in their AP exams. Allow me to now formally share the details:

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your awareness of Bronte AP program, we are offering a wide range of AP exams (about 27 different exams out of 39 exams offered by College Board) we are proud of being the first school offering AP exams for external students in GTA. Each AP exam will cost $150 and we are also offering AP exam preparation sessions for three months prior to exams schedule (Once a week) a copy of our AP exams tutorials for 2008 is attached. If you have any more inquiries don’t hesitate to contact me


Dr. N. Gouda
Head of Student Governance
88 Bronte College court Mississauga Ontario L5B 1M9
Tel. 905 270-7788 ext.2042 Fax. 905 270-7828

Dr. Gouda has been personally recommended to me both by the head of the Ontario Council of AP Schools in Ontario and by a homeschooling mom whose daughter took a few AP exams at Bronte College and was very impressed with the whole examination environment and proctoring at Bronte.

Unlike the SAT and ACT tests, AP examinations are held only once per year. Also unlike the SAT/ACT, AP examinations cover first year university level, subject-specific material. In other words, you don’t have the luxury of writing it over a few times a year until you get the score you like (although, you may write again the following year – there is no restriction on rewriting) and the material is much more challenging. Both of these elements combined can make for a pretty stressful exam day! Knowing that you’re in good, competent hands and that every effort will be made to provide optimal test-taking conditions is worth its weight in gold. . . or at the very least, $150! 😉

Like the SAT/ACT, however, the exam can be written “cold.” You are not required to take any AP “classes” before writing the exam. The review classes offered by Bronte College are available to but not required of homeschoolers. Just as with any standardized test, familiarity with the test format and types of questions generally asked is just as important than the content covered by the test itself. So, I don’t actually recommend writing the test with no prep, but preparation can be as simple as a $20 AP exam prep book from Chapters or Amazon (or free from the library).

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Gouda for being a model of accessibility. For many students, AP exams are a fantastic alternative to Ontario high school credit courses. It’s great that Bronte College is promoting this option to a group of students who can really benefit from it.

If Mississauga is a bit too far for you to travel for an exam, you can visit www.ap.ca to find a list of AP schools in Canada.

If you need reminding why the AP program is a path to university that you definitely want to check out, have a look at the university-by-university AP credit policies and how many university credits can be earned for success on an AP exam.

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