Victory lap (academia)

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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 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", "5th year scum", "super senior", and "Van Wilder" (in reference to the 2002 film National Lampoon's Van Wilder).

The term may also be used to refer to additional years in high school, particularly in Ontario after the elimination of Ontario Academic Credit (Grade 13). 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.[1] In the 2007-2008 year, students over the age of 19 made up 3.7 percent of all secondary day school enrolment in Ontario.[2]


  1. ^ 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). 
  2. ^ "Adults in Secondary Day School" (PDF). Quick Facts Ontario Schools 2007-08. Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 2010. p. 11.