Adoption and Family,  family,  parenting

The Victory Lap in Ontario – Why Take the Extra Year?

The victory lap is what we call an extra year of high school in Ontario. It’s also known as grade 13. Today, high school is only four years long, but when I was a kid, it was a five year process. That means that kids today will be entering university at 18 rather than 19.

I know how challenging university was for me as a 19 year old, so I can only imagine how hard it must be for an individual just on the cusp of adulthood. In many cases, it’s better for the child to attend that fifth year of high school, which is allowed in Ontario, as a way to get a little more time in before college. Here are some reasons why taking the victory lap could benefit your child.


Why The Victory Lap Can Help Your Child

University is a huge shift in independence and workload. It can be hard. It’s a ton of responsibility and stress. At an age like 18 or 19, every year mean a huge increase in maturity and the ability to handle responsibility. So let’s look at why or when the victory lap might make sense.

[tweetthis]Could your teen benefit from the victory lap in Ontario?[/tweetthis]

Maturity Level

University requires a lot of discipline and focus. Kids are thrust into an environment where there are no parents to guide their decision or say, “Do you really think that’s a good idea?” There’s no one there to say, “Did you do your homework?” Kids are on their own often many kilometres away from home. A certain level of maturity is required to ensure that students can adequately handle the workload and the responsibility. The extra year of high school allows children to grow in their maturity and still stay in an educational environment.

A Better Idea of the Future

An extra year of high school allows kids to have extra time to nail down what they want to do for the rest of their lives. It’s important to have a clear idea of what they want to do with their lives so they don’t waste time or money on courses they won’t need. A guidance counsellor at my daughter’s high school last year indicated many families would be better off allowing their child to do an extra year of high school. I was a bit surprised to hear his take, but valued his opinion. He stated – too many young adults get to university and waste that first year not knowing what course they really want to be in. A year of university away from home costs a lot of money. High school in Ontario will cost you nothing – because you pay for education in your taxes.



The victory lap also allows the family to ensure that the college or university experience is easier financially. With that extra year, a child can continue to work their part time job or get a part time job to put money back for extra university-related expenses. That time also allows parents to save more too. In addition, taking that year to put money back and decide what the kids want to do also saves up to $15,000, the average cost of a year of university.

My daughter enters grade 11 this Fall. She could very well be ready for university at 18, but I am not sure we as a family want to bank on that. Lately my kids, my husband and I are all talking about the victory lap. Personally I have some concerns about either of my girls being ready, or independent at 18. While both of my kids are good students, my younger daughter has special needs and I feel like she might need scaffolding for awhile yet. Both of my girls were adopted when they were small, and it is not at all unusual for an adoptee to sometimes function a bit younger than their chronological age due to early life challenges.

The Victory Lap – A Year to Prep for the Rest of Their Lives

The victory lap can be an incredibly useful tool in preparing your child for the future. That year allows them to further mature, sock away more money, and better nail down their career choice while still staying in an educational environment. This approach is actually recommended by some school guidance counsellors for these reasons. Even my child’s counsellor has advised this route. If your child is coming to the end of their fourth year of high school, consider talking to them about taking the victory lap before university.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • K Drynan

    Two of my children did the victory lap because they were in a specialized program with music every semester for four years, and therefore missed out on 4 electives. The first (now 25) had no problem doing it, but my second was told that students can no longer take the extra year unless it was “justified” for a very good reason. Fortunately, (although she was planning to go to college anyway) she was one university credit short and was then allowed to take an extra semester, but otherwise she would not have been allowed. Perhaps a suggestion to your readers about working with the guidance counsellor ahead of time might help?