In their policy document Creating Pathways to Success, which deals with student success in grade-school education, the Ontario government had this to say:
“What students believe about themselves and their opportunities, and what their peers and the adults in their lives believe about them, significantly influence the choices students make and the degree to which they achieve their goals.” The policy statement then lists its core belief concisely and brilliantly: “all students can be successful.”
We bring up this bit of governmental policy literature because it’s relevant to our topic today: upgrading your high school marks.
There’s a common misconception among some students that high school is like a sports match; if you fail to score the first time around, there’s nothing you can do about it. This line of thinking runs contrary to the fundamental goal of education. The aim of a high school education isn’t to label you with a mark – it is to nurture you with the opportunities you require to retain information, hone essential skills and envision your personal success for the future.
If you didn’t get the mark you wanted on the first run through a course, that’s okay. Believe in your abilities; we certainly do. And let that belief spur your motivation toward betterment and success.
This article offers everything you need to know about how – and, importantly, why – to upgrade high school marks at an accredited online school.
Upgrade Courses 101
If you’re new to the concept of upgrade high school courses, let’s take a few brief paragraphs to bring you up to speed.
Essentially, upgrade courses are shortened retakes intended for students who have already completed a course. They are sometimes colloquially referred to as “repeat courses.” If a student completed a course and earned a credit – but they didn’t like the mark they received – they may opt to take an upgrade course for a second shot at a higher mark.
The content of an upgrade course is similar to the original. But, as mentioned, the assessment workload in an upgrade course (i.e., the assignments, etc.) is lighter and shorter. Thus, students can usually complete their upgrade course on an appreciably quicker timeline.
Once a student completes their upgrade high school courses, the higher of their two grades will appear on their transcript next to the letter “R.” This letter signifies that the course was repeated, but it has no bearing on how the mark is viewed by most post-secondary institutions, financial aid organizations, etc.
Enrolling in Upgrade Courses
Next, let’s tackle how to upgrade high school courses online. Thankfully, the process is streamlined and simple – so this shouldn’t take too long! You really only need three things:
- Confirmation of course completion and credit earned
- A computer
- And the motivation to give it your best second shot.
Here’s everything you need to know about enrolling in upgrade courses at OES.
Who Can Enroll?
As mentioned, only students who have successfully completed and earned a credit in a course are eligible to take the corresponding upgrade course. For instance, if a student wants to upgrade grade 12 english, they must send a copy of their final report card, transcript, or credit counselling summary sheet to OES confirming they completed the regular English 12 course.
Moreover, students must prove that they completed this first attempt in the last 12 months. If your report card, transcript or summary states that you completed the regular course in the past calendar year, you are good to go!
How to Enroll
Luckily, it couldn’t be easier to upgrade high school courses online. At the top right of the OES website, you will see a dropdown tab called “Our Courses,” under which you’ll find a tab that says “Upgrade.” Hovering over this tab expands a plethora of options for upgrade courses: An SBI3U upgrade course for Biology 11, the MC4U upgrade for Advanced Functions 12, an SPH4U Physics 12 upgrade course, and many more.
Clicking on one of these courses leads you to its enrollment page. With the blessing and supervision of an adult, you may now take the final step toward upgrade high school courses – and all the hard work, self-motivation and tenacity that goes along with it!
The Benefits of Upgrading Your High School Marks
Now that we’ve answered the what and how of upgrade courses, we can move on to the most important question: why should you upgrade high school marks?
Is the extra time and effort really worth it? Or should you just accept the mark you were given, dust yourself off, and move on with your academic career?
As you might guess, our view here at OES is that upgrade courses certainly are worth it. And that “accepting defeat” is neither a constructive nor advantageous way to continue through your education. We believe that re-attempting a course for better marks is a positive act of self-motivation, self-improvement and opportunity creation. Therefore, the rest of this blog post will be devoted to enumerating the specific ways upgrade courses benefit high school students.
Staying Competitive on Post-Secondary Applications
If you polled 10 students taking an upgrade course and asked them why they were trying again, we reckon that around eight or more would cite “university applications” as their primary reason.
University programs are competitive – that’s no secret. Whether you’re looking at pre-med at the University of Toronto or visual arts at OCAD, you’ll be competing for finite spots alongside several like-minded Ontario students. And while admissions officers look at applications holistically – evaluating your extracurriculars, personal story, ethics, etc. – they emphasize marks in their decision-making.
Therefore, upgrading your mark gives you a significant leg up during university application season. Changing that English grade from a C-plus to a B-plus can spell the difference between winning your top choice and accepting an alternative.
Arming Yourself for Professional Success
While it’s true that most upgrade course students have their eyes set on post-secondary education, the value of these courses extends beyond academia. Students who wish to jump straight into the workforce after grade 12 might justifiably wonder whether upgrade courses are necessary. We believe they can be.
High school isn’t simply “education for education’s sake.” The skills, information and tools you learn throughout your high school career are eminently relevant to the workforce. The first time you’re called upon to craft a business email, you’ll be thankful for your English 12 units on style and construction. When a manager asks you to inventory stock and sales trends, you’ll be grateful for your math courses. And when navigating the sometimes-tricky interoffice politics (common in many work environments), you might feel lucky to have received a quality education that reinforces critical thinking, empathy and active listening.
This is all to say that retreading your high school education through upgrade courses will pay dividends in the workplace.
Squeezing Every Ounce of Knowledge and Insight from Your High School Education
Sometimes, we get carried away thinking of education in terms of its concrete value – the types of professional, financial and academic opportunities it affords students. But there’s another element to your education – one that’s unmotivated by money or ambition or opportunity. It’s that human impulse we all share: curiosity, a thirst for knowledge.
We believe that’s reason enough to take an upgrade course. It’s perfectly acceptable to retake a course simply to squeeze every ounce of knowledge and insight from your high school education. For instance, maybe your C-plus in English reflected an imperfect retention of the texts and critical thinking skills outlined in the course description. In this case, retaking the course can ensure that you retain those essential insights.
Reminding Yourself of the Power of Self-Motivation
Retaking a course to upgrade high school marks requires grit and determination. It requires you to be a self-starter, hungry for improvement and proactive about your future. Therefore, the simple act of enrolling in an upgrade course can be a lesson in self-motivation. It shows that you’re unafraid to put in the hard work.
As you enroll in your upgrade courses, harness this powerful sense of self-motivation. Throw everything you can at the course this time around to ensure an improved result. We recommend reviewing a few of OES’ blog posts before you start, like our tips for online learning and beneficial online learning tools. In these resources, you will receive actionable advice for managing your time, organizing your coursework, creating a dedicated study space, and balancing school with your busy social life.
Shifting from a “Fixed” to a “Growth” Mindset
Elsewhere on our OES blog, we’ve discussed the merits of fostering a “growth mindset.” According to Harvard Business Review, a growth mindset is the belief that one’s “talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others.” By contrast, a fixed mindset is the belief that one’s talents are “innate gifts,” unlikely to change with work and determination.
Studies show that individuals with a growth mindset are, on the whole, more successful in their academic and professional endeavours than individuals with a fixed mindset. It makes sense: if you believe you can succeed, you’ve already taken an important first step toward success.
Upgrade courses are a material example of a growth mindset in action. Students who take these courses are telling themselves, “I can improve, I can develop my skills, as long as I put in the work.” Much like our discussion of self-motivation above, these perspectives will serve you well as you undertake your upgrade courses.
Upgrading Quickly, Conveniently and Flexibly at an Online School
Thus far, we’ve focused on the general benefits of upgrade courses. But how about the benefits of upgrading online? Like every OES course, you can expect your online upgrade classes to be self-paced, convenient, flexible and supportive.
Our self-paced education model means that you take the course as quickly (or slowly) as you like. If you’re trying to bump up your marks ahead of the coming school year or university application deadline, you can complete the upgrade course on a tight timeline by allocating all of your energy toward the course. On the contrary, if you want to complete your upgrade course alongside your regular school workload, you can opt to work at a more leisurely pace.
Because our courses are self-paced, without a fixed end and start date, they remain a flexible obligation in your schedule. You can do your work around other courses, extracurricular activities, work shifts, sports practices, etc. Your self-improvement will not disrupt your normal routine.
Next, upgrading high school courses online is remarkably convenient. As we noted in our enrollment sections above, signing up for the course is a cinch. And once you begin the upgrade course, you can take your studies with you wherever you need to go. Most students complete their courses from the comfort and accessibility of their home, trading in a long commute to school for a (very) short commute to their bedroom desk. But you can feel to study at a library, in a public park, on a family vacation – wherever you want.
Lastily, at OES, we pride ourselves on offering the help our students require to achieve their highest potential. For example, let’s say you had trouble with polynomial division on your first attempt in MCH4U (many students do!). This time, you can get the personalized attention you need to work through the challenging concepts. If you find yourself stuck on a concept or unit in your upgrade course, take advantage of OES’ layered approach to student support. Contact your teacher for clarification, or utilize our 24/7 online tutoring service to receive help regardless of the hour. It’s our way of ensuring that this second attempt is a successful one.
Let’s end this article the way we began by reiterating that guiding belief outlined by the Ontario government: all students can be successful. If you received a disappointing mark that doesn’t live up to your personal standards – or you simply want another crack at an A-plus – consider OES’s upgrade courses. In enrolling, you’re making a decision that can benefit your university applications, professional merits, motivation and mindset.