Students headed for university are facing a double pinch from the labour dispute between teachers and British Columbia – the province's biggest university won't use Grade 12 marks, and a looming teachers boycott on extracurricular activities will further impoverish their applications.
"This consumes every day of our lives," said Zoe Schmidt, a Grade 12 student at Vancouver's Point Grey secondary school, who has applied to the University of British Columbia, which on Wednesday night voted to use Grade 11 marks as a basis for the bulk of admissions. "Grade 12, you know it's time to give everything you've got into it, but Grade 10 and 11 you don't think it matters nearly as much."
Under the new guidelines, marks from Grade 12 courses, unless completed in a previous year, will not be considered by UBC until May, when roughly two-thirds of first-year spots will already have been taken, said associate director of undergraduate admissions Michael Bluhm. He said the move was made partly to keep admissions offers on a similar timeline to previous years.
With an absence of report cards as part of the BC Teachers' Federation work-to-rule action, offers based primarily on Grade 11 marks will go out in mid-April, he said.
"It's messed up the whole year," said Tessa Walsh, student council president at Point Grey. "I hate it, I hate the strike," she said, adding that any further restrictions on extracurricular activities, currently being mulled by teachers, will hurt her admission chances even more. "I think there's a lot more extracurriculars I'd be doing if I could this year, just to beef up my application. Sports and clubs are definitely off the table and it's not good."
Mr. Bluhm said B.C. students with poor Grade 11 marks would not be disadvantaged by the change. "It will be business as usual in considering Grade 12 grades," he said. "What changes potentially is that if you're not admissible on Grade 11 grades in April, the offer might come a little later than it normally would have."
Some out-of-province students were relieved to know their Grade 12 marks would be accepted.
"I probably would have done a lot better in math and English if Grade 11 were going into the equation, pretty much because I just would have tried harder," said Kathleen Dawson, a Grade 12 high school student from Ottawa.
In past years, UBC has relied on grades submitted to its website by students themselves and later verified through official report cards. The registrar's inability to check self-reported marks against report cards also helped prompt the change.
Other institutions, such as the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University, are accepting unofficial Grade 12 mark statements signed by teachers and school administrators.