Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty unveiled his government’s budget plan on 27 March 2012. He proposed a credit cap that would go into effect for the 2013-2014 school year. This means that next year no student will be able to acquire more than 34 credits, effectively ending the practice of the victory lap.
For many students who are unsure of their futures, this is a terrifying prospect. And for those who are aware of their future plans, it may be detrimental. A good example of this would be a student who spent most of their high school career thinking that university simply wasn’t for them. But suddenly when grade twelve rolled around, they realized that they want nothing more than to become an architect. To even apply to an architecture program at a university, a student must have taken at least six 4U or M courses, and many programs require grade twelve math and physics; courses that a student planning to attend college would have no reason to take. So what happens to this student? Before, they would have been able to take an extra year. They could return to high school, get the credits and the marks that they needed, and then they could apply to university to become an architect. But now this student is forced to either go to extraordinary measures to attain their dream, or to simply give up.
It’s unfair to expect every student in the system to have their lives figured out by the time they are meant to graduate. It’s better to let them continue to explore their options for a year in a safe environment than to throw them out and hope that they make it on their own. And it doesn’t require much from schools to support this. The budget cut is expected to save around $22 million – only 0.14% of our $15.3 billion deficit. Clearly, victory laps are far from the government’s greatest expense. There is even a potential return. If young people enter the workforce ill-prepared and with the wrong mindset they’re bound to contribute far less than driven and focused individuals.
At Garneau this policy is not a new one. Returning to school for extra courses has been discouraged for a while now. However, if a student were to plead their case well enough, they were able to come back with no problem. No more. As of next year, no matter how compelling your case, you’re out of luck.
The credit cap is basically putting a cap on students’ childhoods. Once you make it to 34 credits, it’s time to grow up. Whether you’re ready or not you’re alone now. And it just isn’t right to measure a student’s maturity by the number of courses they’ve completed.