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Nadyja Von Ebers

Should I Graduate Early? Take the Quiz

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For any number of reasons, you may be thinking about graduating early. Maybe you want to start taking college classes. Or maybe you have a job lined up to save money for college. Or maybe you’re just suffering a good old-fashioned case of senioritis, in which case we highly recommend this Senior Year Survival Guide! There are lots of pros and cons to graduating early, so if you’re asking yourself, “Should I graduate early?” take this quiz to gain greater insight. And once you’ve taken it, read on to learn more about graduating early to decide if it’s the right choice for you!

First Thing’s First: Get All The Facts About Graduating Early

If you’re debating whether or not to graduate early, the absolute first thing to do is find out exactly what is required to graduate early, and how graduating early will impact your college decisions.

Find out the following information:

  • If your high school allows early graduation. Not all of them do!
  • How many credits you’ll actually need to graduate early, and how many in each subject area. Will you have all of these completed in time for early graduation?
  • The cut-off date for applying for early graduation. Some schools require that you submit your petition to graduate early by the end of your junior year, for example.
  • When you’ll actually be done with classes. Even if you have all of the necessary credits to graduate by the end of your junior year, many high schools will not let you graduate until after completing first semester of your senior year.
  • Post-graduation rules. Will you still be able to participate in extracurricular activities? (Hint: probably not). Will you you need a guest pass to visit the high school? Will you be able to attend your graduation ceremony? (More on this later). What about Prom? Will you be able to take AP exams for any AP courses you’re enrolled in?
  • Early graduation procedures. Is there paperwork to fill out? Does a teacher or counselor have to sign off on this decision? Also, keep in mind that if you’re not 18 yet, you’ll need permission from a parent or guardian.
  • Then consider the following:

  • If/how graduation will affect your acceptance to college. If you’ve already been accepted and made a decision about where you’ll be attending, it’s a good idea to call the admissions department and verify that there are no additional requirements your acceptance is contingent upon.
  • What, if any classes, you need to take now in order to stay on pace for early graduation. Are you one language or math class away? Will you have time to fit this course into your schedule?
  • What your course load will look like in preparation for graduating early. Will you be overextended? Or will you be able to finish out your high school classes with relative ease?
  • Assess Your Reasons For Graduating Early

    It’s a good idea to really consider why you’re considering graduating early. Any of these reasons can be the right reason to graduate early, but you want to make sure you think through your motivation thoroughly.

    Emotional reasons

    Is there something going on in your personal life that it is making it hard for you to properly focus on school? For example, have you been ill, or dealing with a family issue? If so, graduating early might be the right option. Keep in mind, however, that there may be other solutions, such as talking to a school counselor or taking fewer classes. If you’re experience high stress but don’t want to graduate early, talk to a teacher or counselor you trust at school about your options for lightening your load and receiving additional support.

    Financial reasons

    Let’s be real: college is expensive! Plenty of students use their free time after graduating early to get jobs and save money so they can work less (or not at all) once they’re in college. If you have a job lined up already—especially if it’s one you think could add value to your resume down the line—graduating early might be the right route for you

    Academic or professional reasons

    Are you graduating early to get a jump start on college courses or to take advantage of an internship opportunity? Sometimes high school students decide to take a required course at a community college, for example, or start volunteering somewhere aligned with their academic field of choice. If you’ll be intending a super intensive academic program for college, this might be a good way to get ahead, but make sure your schedule still feels manageable overall.

    Get Feedback

    While graduating early is ultimately a personal decision, it will impact some of your relationships, so it’s a good idea to get some feedback about the decision from a few different sources.

    It’s a good idea to bounce your thoughts on the matter off of the following people:

  • Your Family. What do your parents or guardians think of the decision? Are they supportive or skeptical? Why? Even if you’re 18, your parents are likely still providing you at least some level of support, so it’s worthwhile to hear their thoughts on the matter. Keep in mind that some schools don’t allow students who have graduated early to attend the formal graduation ceremony, and this might be a meaningful celebration for you and your family. What are your thoughts on walking on graduation day? What are theirs?
  • A faculty member you trust. It’s worth discussing the prospect of graduating early with a teacher, guidance counselor, coach, or other mentor at your high school. They may have a stronger sense of how your academic or extracurricular experiences will be impacted by the decision.
  • Your friends. What do your closest friends think? Will you miss seeing them every day? How do you plan to keep in touch once you graduate? Remember that you and your friends have a limited time to spend together before you all graduate and go your separate ways, so consider how graduating early will impact your social life.
  • Someone who graduated early. What was their experience like? Do they feel good about the decision? Or do they have regrets? What advice might they have for graduating early?
  • The Pros and Cons of Graduating Early

    Obviously the benefits and risks of graduating early will be different for everyone, depending on your lifestyle and plans. But here’s a bit of a “graduating early cheat sheet” if you’re still unsure.

    The potential pros:

  • Getting a job and earning money for college
  • Getting a jump start on an internship or college courses
  • Decompressing mentally and emotionally before entering the next chapter of life; high school was intense and everyone needs rest!
  • Avoiding the grade drops that can sometimes come with senioritis (yikes)
  • The potential cons:

  • Missing your friends or feeling removed from your former community
  • Adding stress to your schedule by taking on a large course load prior to graduating early
  • Possibly missing out on end-of-the year events such as Prom or the commencement ceremony
  • Possible issues with your current college acceptance
  • A Final Word On Graduating Early

    Whether or not you decide to graduate early, here’s a reminder of 5 things to do before graduation (or 10 things to do before graduation if you’re feeling ambitious).

    After remember that whatever route you choose, graduation is a big deal and you should be very proud of yourself. So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and celebrate once it’s official!

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    About Nadyja Von Ebers

    Nadyja von Ebers holds an MA in English from DePaul University and has been an English instructor at the high school and college levels for the last eleven years. She has extensive experience teaching preparation for various AP exams as well as the ACT, SAT, and GED. Nadyja loves helping students reach their maximum potential and thrives in both literal and virtual classrooms. When she's not teaching, she enjoys reading and writing for pleasure and loves spending time in or near the ocean.


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