Originally Posted: Dec 17, 2018
Last Updated: Aug 4, 2020
For some students, high school can be a great opportunity to learn, grow, and mature before heading off to college or the workforce. It’s a time for students to discover what it takes to achieve success and discover what they’re interested in. Most of the time, students prefer to attend high school all four years, not willing to sacrifice leaving the comfort of home any sooner than they need to. However, four years can seem like an extensive amount of time for some students, which is why I thought it would be best to do it in three years. Here's my best advice for you if you're thinking about graduating high school early too.
Think about it
Like every major decision, make sure you have a definitive reason why you want to graduate in three years. While graduating high school early is a good idea for some, it’s definitely not for everyone. Whether it’s because you don’t like the high school environment or you don’t think you would benefit from another year of high school, you should make sure you know why it’s something you really want to do.
Another thing you should completely understand is that you’ll be giving up an entire year of high school. If you’re super involved in extracurricular activities, remember you’re giving up a year of those activities. If you’re good at sports or compete in academic events, you won’t have another year to advance. Graduating early will also translate to giving up a year with your long-time friends.
One thing that helped me make this tough decision was making a list of pros and cons. Once I had the idea in my head, I sat down and made a list of all the good things that would come from going through with it, and all the bad. This also helped me sort out the answers to questions people would have when they asked why I was graduating early, and it really helped me see that it was worth giving up a year of “childhood” for an even better year of college.
Talk to people about it
Once you’ve decided graduating early is the right route for you, the next step is to talk to your high school counselor. This is going to be the first practical step to put your plan into motion. By going in and talking to your counselor or academic advisor, you’ll be able to get a sense of how plausible graduating in three years is. They’ll be able to show you what credits you have, which ones you still need, and how you can fit them all into a smaller time frame.
Talking to your counselor/advisor and family members will also give you a new perspective. Because they know your work ethic, grades, and maturity level, they’ll ultimately be able to assure you whether or not graduating early is the right decision. They’ll be able to provide you with more advantages and disadvantages of graduating early regarding the academic side of things. They can also provide you with alternative options to be sure you know what you want.
When I spoke to my counselor, she was extremely helpful in determining what classes I needed to take and how I could finish them in time. She directed me to taking summer classes at a community college, reminded me when I had to begin applying to colleges and scholarships, and made sure I had good enough SAT/ACT scores to get me into the school I wanted. My family also brought up alternatives to graduating early, such as taking dual-enrollment community college classes in order to receive my associate degree with my high school diploma.
Consider life after high school
One thing you may worry about graduating early is life after high school. Once you’re finished, you’re more than likely planning to attend college or get a job. One of the biggest worries my parents had was for me to adjust to college and fit in. Because I spent my entire freshman year of college as a 17-year-old, all my friends are at least a year older than me. While the internet told me I wouldn’t be mature enough to fit in, and my parents thought I might be too young, I had no trouble making friends.
Make it happen
I decided graduating high school early was the best option for me because I didn’t feel like I was being challenged enough and thought a fourth year of high school would hold me back rather than benefit me. After I knew what I wanted, I spoke to my counselor and we worked out the classes I needed to take during summer and began applying to colleges and scholarships. My experience was simple, and I’m so glad I was able to make it happen. I know I wouldn’t have the same opportunities I have now.
While graduating high school early may sound like an impossible or daunting task, it’s not nearly as hard as some make it out to be. The toughest part is knowing for sure that it’s the right decision for you. It’s a choice that can only be made by you, so use this advice to see if it's the best option. Good luck!
Ready to start the college search early too? You can explore all kinds of options with the Lists & Rankings on CollegeXpress!