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Ontario Secondary School Diploma – Number one Choice for Students – Why?

Published Bernice on Monday, April 12, 2021 12:00 AM

Secondary School Diploma in Canada

We have looked at countries, we have talked about Canada and specifically about the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Our last article in this series gives you an overview how the OSSD compares to the IB and AP program.

Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP)

Each of these programs has its merits, with some unique and distinguishing features.  As a critique, here are the limitations of each:

The IB program is heavily focused on academics and due to this heavy emphasis, it is suitable for only a small percentage of students.  For the average student the heavy academic demand limits their ability to partake in the activities that make them an interesting and well-rounded person, such as sports, clubs, co-curricular activities, theatre, dance, arts, community involvement, part time work, etc.  Due to the demand of the academic component of the IB it squeezes the diversity and uniqueness out of all but the academic elite who can maintain their outside interests while taking on the heavy academic demands of the IB.

Advanced Placement (AP) has the same effect as the IB on students (e.g.: higher academic rigour and focus demanding student’s time, while limiting a student’s ability to partake in other life-skills and life-long-learning activities), but to a lesser degree. 

The question is, what does this academic sacrifice of the IB or AP offer:

  • few universities recognize it or give priority or advanced standing for it
  • the IB finishes in May, leaving students “isolated” for two months while their peers finish and celebrate their high school careers together at the end of June
  • it adds stress and reduces the opportunities for all but the academically gifted to explore anything but academics
  • if it does provide advanced standing in university the student is isolated from their cohort as they sit out a year (and that first year of university is a critical year filled with so much learning beyond the classroom) or join an advanced class which they may not be ready for academically or emotionally/lack the maturity
  • the OSSD is recognized by universities around the world and students with the OSSD are successful in universities around the world
  • Arguably the OSSD holds more value than IB or AP as the best universities evaluate applicants not only on academics, but on community involvement, collaborative learning, demonstrated leadership and involvement in co-curriculars, all offered through the OSSD, which carry more weight than IB or AP.  And we all know, the skills learned through such activities are highly valued in the workforce – these are the skills, beyond academic success, that allow people to succeed.

We hope that these past weeks we could give you more information about why Ontario is a great destination and we hope that you will look at promoting it to your clients/ students. We at Merrick Preparatory School are very proud to graduate our students with the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Over 80% of our graduates are Ontario Scholars. We are proud of our 100% university placement with most of them receiving significant scholarships. Any questions? We are happy to connect with you. Please reach out to

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