What (or who, rather) is an Ontario Scholar?

An Ontario secondary school graduate who has attained an average of 80% or higher in his or her six best grade 12 university or university/college preparation (and formerly OAC) courses is designated as an Ontario Scholar by the Ministry of Education. The average is calculated using the student's marks at the end of their final year of high school or high school equivalency. Unlike most other distinctions that may or may not come with the conclusion of high school, this is granted by the provincial government and not by the school or school board. Residents of Ontario completing their secondary education outside of the province (or even country) are also eligible for this distinction (assuming their marks qualify) but there's a lot of red tape to go through.

Is there a difference between being an Ontario Scholar and being on the Honor Roll?

Yes. The Ontario Scholar distinction requires the student to have an average of at least 80% in his or her six best eligible courses. Most schools calculate the 'honor roll' average from all the courses the student completed in that academic year. There are exceptions, of course, but in many cases people who fall short of their school's honor roll can still be designated as Ontario Scholars. This is because most post-secondary institutions calculate the admissions average with the six highest grade 12 (and, until recently, OAC) marks.

The honor roll requirements are also determined by the school or the school board. Some schools require an overall average of at least 85% while some require 80%. The Ontario Scholar requirement is 80% for every high school student in the province, regardless of whether or not they're home schooled or educated in a publicly- or privately-funded institution.

It's possible to be an Ontario Scholar and not on the honor roll, as well as to be on the honor roll and not an Ontario Scholar. The average grade 12 courseload is six courses, but some students take up to eight. Some of these additional courses may be in grade levels other than the required grade 12 courses and therefore don't qualify to affect the average that determines it. The extra courses might change a student's average, affecting whether or not they meet either requirement. Those who end up on the honor roll with six courses will be designated Ontario Scholars -- as long as the school's honor roll requires an average of at least 80% (and most of them do).

What do Ontario Scholars get?

This depends almost entirely on the school (and school board, in some cases). The only thing every single Ontario Scholar receives is a certificate similar in appearance to their diploma explaining the nature of the distinction. This is because the certificate is given to them by the government -- it bears the signature of the Minister of Education (it's usually printed on the paper itself) but not the school's principal, emphasizing that this comes from the government and not from the school.

Schools, however, may choose to grant Ontario Scholars some other kind of tangible reward for their accomplishment. Some schools work the distinction into the graduation ceremony; I know of at least one school that has its Ontario Scholars wear fancy sashes on top of their graduation gowns. I only got the certificate and two asterisks next to my name in the graduation programme (one for honor roll, one for this distinction -- had anyone read the programme I would have felt cool). In the long run, it does look nice on the old resumé.

E2 Ontario Scholars

(The list was suggested by TMPman. If you're an Ontario Scholar /msg me and I'll add you. Feel free to add whether or not you only got the certificate.)
  • kerawall
  • TMPman
  • Ubiquity
  • Adam Walker

  • Resource:
    Policy/Program Memorandum No. 53 http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/53.html 23 June 2004