Academic upgrading, or upgrading, can be an extremely useful tool for those looking to enter post-secondary school. Upgrading refers to taking high school level courses, usually when you are an adult or have been out of the high school stream long enough that it would be awkward to be surrounded by teenagers again.
There are plenty of reasons why people choose to upgrade. Some people aren’t able to finish high school in a traditional time frame due to family or personal circumstances. There are those who received their high school diploma, but perhaps their marks aren’t competitive enough for the program they want. Sometimes people upgrade because while they may have graduated from high school and completed some post-secondary, what they want to do with their lives has changed. This means the credits and marks they need may have changed too.
Sometimes Staying is Better
Every person has the right to attend public school until they receive their graduation diploma or until the last day of June in the year they turn 21. This might seem like overkill to some people. Most kids are around 17 when they graduate, so why stay longer?
There are a lot of reasons, but I’ll share my first-hand experience.
I went to high school in Ontario and we had two different credentials you could achieve: the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), which students could get after completing required courses in grade 12. This diploma, at the time, was useful for entering college-level programs. We also had the Ontario Academic Credit (OAC), which was considered grade 13 and comprised of six courses. This was mandatory for getting into university-level programs. Because I didn’t know what I wanted out of my future, I extended my time in high school to figure it out and graduated the final year they offered OAC.
This meant I had double the competition when applying to school. With that, I made sure to retake courses I wanted higher grades in and took courses I knew I would do well in to boost my graduating GPA. Because of this, I graduated with honours and received several scholarships with my university acceptance. This also meant I graduated high school the year I turned 20.
Upgrading Later in Life
As mentioned before, not everyone attends school in a traditional time frame. For those who are over 21 and need to upgrade their education, it can seem hard to get this accomplished. I assure you it’s not! Whatever your reason for doing it later, there are two main ways you can upgrade in your later years:
- If you’re the type of learner who does best in a classroom, you can attend upgrading classes at an Adult Learning Centre. These centres offer classes in a face-to-face format and depending on where you attend, classes can be in the day or the evening. This is especially useful if you have been out of regular school for a few years, as it can be good practice for attending school regularly again.
- For those who can’t make class time work or do better on their own, you can look into the Independent Study Option offered through the Government of Manitoba. This is your basic correspondence format. You’ll get your coursework in a large package and you submit your assignments either through traditional mail, Blackboard, or in person if you live in or around Winkler. These courses are not taught online and the materials are not offered online. Only submission can be done online.
If you read my post from last month, you will have read about my friend Amanda. During her time from when she left high school and before she entered post-secondary, she also upgraded. When she graduated from high school she didn’t have the math and science credits she needed to get into post-secondary for the program she wanted. Upgrading helped her remember how to be a student, as well as get the credits she needed.
Upgrading is, in a sense, leveling up the skills you might already have. For those of you who have been out of regular school for over five years, chances are you might forget all of the intricacies of those math formulas that were pounded into your skull. Maybe your writing skills have suffered since you don’t use them a lot in your everyday job. Academic upgrading can help you develop the skills you will need to get into the program of your choice.
No matter what path your life has taken you on, whether you graduated high school in the standard time frame, you left to take care of yourself or family, or you’ve chosen a career that requires skills in a subject you might not have cared about in high school, upgrading can get you there. No matter your end-goal, there is always a way. Some streams might take more time than others. If you need grade 12 calculus but only took math up until grade 10, you may be looking at a year or two to get into that calculus class. That depends on you, though. It depends on what you’ve got to work with and how much you want it.
Go out there and live your best life!
About “The Navigator”
“The Navigator” is a monthly blog about student life by the Campus Manitoba Virtual Help Desk. Check back monthly to find more tidbits of wisdom with “The Navigator”. You’ll be sure to find all kinds of information that will help you be successful in your educational journey. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news and information!