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A victory lap is a term used in American and Canadian academics to describe one or more extra years of study needed beyond the traditional four years of secondary, or undergraduate studies. These added years are generally the result of switching midstream to a different major or program. In certain cases such as engineering and teaching and life science degrees, the victory lap is instead attributed to increased course load and stress.

Other slang terms used to represent this same idea include "jewel degree", "5th year senior", "super senior", and "Van Wilder" (in reference to the 2002 film National Lampoon's Van Wilder).


The term victory lap is used to refer to the additional years of secondary education a student may take in Ontario. The term Grade 13, is also used to refer to a victory lap in Ontario.[1][2] Grade 13 was previously an academic grade in Ontario secondary schools, offered from 1921 to 1988. In 1988, Grade 13 was reorganized into the Ontario Academic Credit, which continued to be offered until 2003. After 2003, Ontario's secondary schools formally offered only four grades of schooling (Grades 9 to 12).

However, Patrick Brady and Philip Allingham of Lakehead University, has argued that the provincial government's attempt to bring Ontario in line with the rest of the continent's 12 grades system has only been partially successful. Both have noted that the fifth year in secondary schools is still a norm in Ontario, with students in Ontario still opting to take a fifth year in secondary school, colloquially known as the victory lap.[3] During the 2010–2011 academic year, 73 per cent of students in Grade 12 managed to complete their secondary studies in four years,[4] with over 20,000 Grade 12 students, or 14 per cent of Ontario's Grade 12 student population returning for a "victory lap," in the following year.[5]

In September 2013, the Government of Ontario introduced a 34-credit threshold (30 credits is necessary to receive the Ontario Secondary School Diploma),[note 1] in an effort to limit the length of study for its secondary school students.[6] The Government of Ontario estimates the credit cap would save the province C$22 million each year.[7] In the 2016–2017 academic year, students 19 years or older made up 3 per cent of public secondary day school attendance in Ontario.[8]

As of September 2013, a "resident pupil" of Ontario has the right to attend a public secondary school until they've received their 34th course credit, attended the school for seven years, or until they are age of 20 and has not been enrolled in a school in the last four years; after which, the secondary school reserves the right to refuse further admission to the student.[9]


  1. ^ Exemptions to the credit threshold exists, which includes students with special education needs.


  1. ^ Colgan, Greg (1 March 2017). "Four Woodstock wrestlers and eight in total from Oxford County will take part in OFSAA wrestling". Woodstock Sentinel-Review. Postmedia Network. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  2. ^ Pyette, Ryan (1 January 2019). "South's 'beast' still deciding where his football talents will take him next". Postmedia Network. London Free Press. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  3. ^ Brady, Patrick; Allingham, Philip (18 November 2010). "Pathways to university: The "Victory Lap" Phenomenon in Ontario" (PDF). Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy (113).
  4. ^ "Liberals say 82% of high school students graduate". CP24. BellMedia. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  5. ^ Brown, Louise; Rushowy, Kristin. "Ontario budget: Hard lessons for teachers, some students". The Toronto Star. Torstar Corporation.
  6. ^ "Four-Year Secondary School Program – Thirty-four credit Threshold". Ontario Ministry of Education. Queen's Printer for Ontario. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  7. ^ "High school 'victory laps' cost province $22 million". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Quick Facts: Ontario Schools, 2016–17". Ontario Ministry of Education. Queen's Printer for Ontario. 2 April 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Attendance Rights". Justice for Children and Youth. Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law. 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2019.