At Ontario eSecondary School, we’re proud to welcome a diverse array of learners: young students, mature students, quick studiers, methodical studiers, kinesthetic learners, visual learners, Canadian residents, and – relevant to this article – non-residents. The diversity on display here at OES makes us who we are. Collectively, we represent a shining mosaic of experiences, all striving toward the same goal: an excellent education.
We understand that moving schools can be tricky at the best of times. Adapting to an entirely new curriculum and national education system – as international students must – can be doubly challenging. And for some international students who move to Canada, the experience of culture shock may compound and exacerbate those challenges.
Throughout this demanding and exciting transition, we’re here to help. We want you to know that you’re supported and accommodated by professionals who take your continuing success very seriously. And the first step in that process is to provide you with a comprehensive guide.
Below, we answer common questions and explore essential details about the international student experience. If you’re joining us from abroad – whether it’s the US, China, India, France or wherever you call home – here’s what you need to know.
Can International Students Take Online Courses in Canada?
Let’s get this question out of the way quickly since it comes up frequently – both in online search queries and internal student communications. People want to know if it’s even possible for international students to take online courses in Canada. And the answer is a clear “yes.”
We understand the confusion. Not long ago, international students had only two recourses for receiving a Canadian education: they could physically attend a brick-and-mortar school in Canada, or hope that a Canadian international satellite school opened up in their home country. Both options were costly and inconvenient.
Now, you can bypass those restrictions. You can earn an Ontario diploma remotely by attending online courses for international students at schools like OES, which are ministry-inspected and licensed to issue OSSD course credits. Best of all, you can do it from the comfort of your own home – on your own schedule.
Do You Need a Study Permit to Attend Online Courses in Canada?
This is a great question that also comes up often in our communications with international students. The answer depends entirely on how you want to receive your education.
If you are taking courses from your home country, you will not need a study permit. For instance, a student from Pakistan who remains in their home city of Karachi for the duration of their OES school career does not need any cross-border permissions because – well – they aren’t crossing any borders!
However, if you want to physically live in Canada while you study at OES, you will likely need a compliant visa or permit (the nature of these requirements depends on where you come from, how long you’re staying, if you plan to work in tandem with your education, etc.). Some students follow this path because they want the full, integrated experience of being a Canadian high school student. Please note that OES cannot help with your visas and/or permits; you will need to organize and procure those on your own.
The Benefits of a Canadian Education
Okay, so we’ve answered the million-dollar question: “Can international students take online courses in Canada?” Yes, they can.
Let’s move to a slightly more complex question: “Why should international students take online courses in Canada?” What are the relative benefits of receiving a Canadian education?
To put it plainly, Canadian secondary school education is world-renowned. Out of 195 countries, Canada ranks as the fourth-best educational system (only trailing behind Denmark, Finland and Japan). That means Canada has the best English-speaking educational system in the world. If you want to break into the English-speaking world, Canada is your brightest option.
Moreover, the OSSD (the Ontario Secondary School Diploma) is widely recognized in the international post-secondary market. The Ontario diploma is obviously attractive to Canadian universities, many of which rank highly among the world’s best universities. But it’s also well respected by global universities, who consider it a strong indicator of academic performance in their admissions decisions.
The bottom line: A Canadian education opens academic doors. Its quality and name recognition are nearly unmatched on the global stage.
The Benefits of an Online Education
We’ve discussed what makes a Canadian education special. Now, we turn our attention to the benefits of online schools in Canada for international students.
As mentioned, a pivotal benefit of online education is convenience. You can earn a Canadian high school diploma without ever leaving your hometown. (You don’t even need to leave your bedroom!).
However, the benefits of online education are about more than just convenience. Students are treated to a wide range of multimedia resources at OES. Rather than dusting off a boring textbook, they learn through videos, interactive modules, audio clips, PowerPoint presentations and more. We believe this varied approach to education elevates student engagement and accommodates diverse learning styles.
Next, OES uses a “self-paced” learning model; we encourage our students to learn at their own speed. If you need longer to complete the Shakespeare unit in your Grade 12 English course (Shakespeare can be notoriously tricky for international learners), you can take the time you need. Conversely, if you’re skilled at math (let’s say you received quality math education earlier in life), you can work through your math course quickly and earn high school credits faster – graduating sooner and getting ahead of university applications.
Our self-paced model is also flexible, allowing students to dictate their school schedules around other vital facets of their lives. For instance, let’s say you have a day job at a restaurant, a chess hobby or soccer team practice; you can schedule your school time around those activities.
Lastly, OES’s online education sets itself apart by offering plenty of support. We want our students to succeed, so we give them every possible opportunity to learn their course material. Our knowledgeable teachers are available to chat, reply to messages and offer instruction. And when you enroll in an OES course, you may also access free, 24/7 tutoring. Regardless of the time of day or time zone, you can reach a tutor for help with your studies.
What to Provide: Documents, Prerequisites and Proficiency
Let’s circle back to the nuts and bolts of studying as an international student. While you may not need a study permit, you will need to provide us with certain documents as part of the standard admission requirements for all students.
First, we’ll need to see some basic identification: Government-issued ID like a passport, birth certificate or driver’s license. We need to know that it’s you!
Next, we’ll take a look at your transcripts: the courses you completed in your home country or prior international school. This is especially relevant if you’re enrolling in a course with a prerequisite requirement (e.g., You want to take Grade 11 Physics, you need an equivalent Grade 10 Science prerequisite). If your transcript is in a language other than English, we’ll need a translated copy alongside the original.
Lastly, all accredited schools, OES included, require you to demonstrate English language proficiency. You may need to take an assessment (more on that below), or send along a TOEFL/IELTS score of 4.0 or higher. Our classes are all taught in English, so it’s in everyone’s best interests that you can understand the course material, nuances included.
What Comes Next: Assessment for International Students
Once you’ve submitted your documents, we advance to the assessment process. This is a standard procedure, the kind you must undertake when entering any accredited school in Canada. It’s simply a way for us to ensure that you’re entered into the Ontario system, that you’ve received an equivalent education for your new courses, and that you have the English language skills to thrive in these courses.
During the assessment, we will undertake an “equivalency assessment” to prove that your home credentials are valid and equal to completed Canadian high school credentials. As mentioned, you will take an English competency examination to demonstrate your proficiency. You will also receive professional guidance as to how you can complete your OSSD. Lastly, we’ll enter you into the Ontario system by creating an Ontario Education Number and Ontario Student Record.
This process is mandatory and costs a nominal fee (read more on our page titled “International Students”).
How to Succeed in Your Online Studies
You’re enrolled! After leaping through those straightforward hoops, it’s time to start learning. But this is no ordinary school experience. Learning online is flexible and self-paced. While it’s certainly more convenient than the alternative, it does require some self-motivation and dedication on your part.
Here are a few things you can do to get the ball rolling:
- Establish a dedicated study space: This can be a quiet area in your home or a tranquil public space like a library. Ensure that you have all the tools and nourishment you need for a productive day of studying, like your laptop, notepads, learning apps, healthy snacks and water.
- Make a schedule: Practice effective time management by establishing a timeline for completing your courses. Break each course into smaller sections, and apply those sections to a calendar to ensure that you are on pace to finish in a reasonable timeframe.
- Take breaks: We do not want you to overexert yourself. We believe it’s important to take restful breaks in between study sessions to give your brain time to absorb and retain information. Studies show that taking frequent, short breaks improves a student’s learning and mitigates stress.
- Reach out for help: As we mentioned, one of the wonderful things about online classes for international students with OES is our support structure. Please lean on these support systems if you have questions and concerns, or if you need clarification. We want you to succeed. But we can’t help if you don’t ask for help.
For a comprehensive guide to succeeding in your OES studies, visit our tips for online learning article.
Easing Culture Shock: Resources for International Students Entering Canada
This section applies to students physically locating to Canada. If you decide to move here for the duration of your studies, be prepared for potential “culture shock.” Culture shock is a natural and common feeling when people immerse themselves in new places. Everything might seem different here in Canada – the language, social customs, scenery and temperature.
Culture shock can manifest as feelings of loneliness, sadness and intense frustration. It can disrupt your ability to perform well academically – but more importantly, it can be a strain on your mental health.
Before you arrive, read this helpful resource written by the Canadian government on handling culture shock. The resource details coping mechanisms like developing meaningful relationships, doing things to remind you of home and taking basic care of your health. As the famous English saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Welcome to OES: A Parting Message for International Students
To summarize, OES is proud to offer online courses in Canada for international students. These courses are a convenient and flexible alternative to attending in-person schools, and are presided over by expert teachers with your best interests at heart. The education you receive at OES will be top-notch. And the credits you receive toward an OSSD will be widely respected by international universities.
To begin your online enrollment for international students, contact us with the information detailed in the sections above. After we complete a short assessment and tick a few administrative boxes, you will be ready to learn – either in Canada or your home country. Read more on our blog about how best to prepare for online studying, and start honing your time management skills to see good results.
We look forward to welcoming you at OES for online grade 12 courses, grade 11 courses or grade 10 courses. If you have any questions not answered above, please contact our staff; we’re here to help!