Canada Culture #7

Last night we went to Crabbies (a local restaurant) to celebrate our friend’s high school graduation. She asked me a few weeks ago if we were coming to her graduation, and I mentioned how it’s a little early to figure that out since it is so far away. This is what I learned from the conversation:

In the States a high school graduation ceremony takes place either before or soon after school is out for the summer.

In Canada (or at least Ontario), students in grade 12 usually won’t have their graduation ceremony until the beginning of autumn. Thus many students leave for university have to return to their hometowns in order to walk the stage, receive their diploma, and graduate. What a difference!

Ontario also has a 13th year of high school called “Grade 13” which is sometimes referred to as the “Victory Lap”. Students have the option of staying an extra year to gain more volunteer hours or credits if they want, though there are some students who have to stay, without choice, an extra year in order to make up credits to graduate.

Canadian high school students also don’t really refer to themselves as “freshmen”, “sophomores”, “juniors”, or “seniors”. They would normally say, “I am in grade 9,” or “I am in grade 11.”

I’ve also noticed that Canadians don’t interchange the words “university” and “college” as much as Americans do. If a student is attending a university, they usually say “I’m at university right now” not “I’m in college right now.” Colleges are normally a vocational school, while universities are schools who offer a full Bachelor’s degree.

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