When people first find out that I’m graduating high school a year early, they assume I must be a genius—but I’m far from it! In reality, my achievements are the result of simple, calculated steps involving determination, dual enrollment, and hard work. If you’re considering an accelerated academic plan, read on for tips that will give you some insight into my experience and how you can start.
Identify your goals
One of the most important factors in graduating high school early is knowing exactly what your intentions are. Do you want just enough credits to graduate, or will you put in extra work to meet university requirements? Are you planning to graduate a full year early or just a semester? In addition to questions like these, you should also have at least a general idea of what you plan to do after you graduate. Knowing your intended college major, for example, will be helpful in determining which classes you should take to meet the expectations of the program you transfer to after high school.
Make your intentions known
Graduating high school early is impossible without proper communication. As soon as you begin to consider an accelerated path, set up a meeting with your school counselor to develop an individualized plan of classes based on how many credits you’ll need. It may seem overwhelming at first, but having a clear plan laid out is way more effective than blindly taking classes that may not be best for you. Additionally, I highly recommend having a conversation with your family about your goals. The leap to graduate as a junior is a big one and, trust me, you’ll be grateful for their support in the long run.
Get dual enrolled
Dual enrollment classes have been a game changer for me in my quest to graduate early. Also known as dual credit courses, these are essentially college classes that are paid for by your school and count for both high school and college credits (as long as you receive a grade of C or higher). There are many different dual enrollment options, some of which may vary based on your location, so talk to your counselor to find one that works best for you. Personally, I’ve taken all my dual enrollment classes online through Cabrillo College and have found them to be an enjoyable challenge that has made all the difference in my early graduation.
Take summer classes
I know the idea of continuing school through your summer break can be less than appealing, but it will make attaining this goal much easier. I recommend taking an elective class that interests you (ideally through a community college for extra credits) to stay academically active while also getting a bit of a breather from your least favorite subjects and busy schedule. Online summer classes are often self-paced, which means you wouldn’t even have class times—you’d only have to complete the coursework by the end of the class!
Find ways to de-stress
As someone who has a long history with anxiety, I found that preparation was key to reaching my goal without overexerting myself. The reality of graduating early is hard work, long nights, and weekends spent prepping for next week’s assignments. But having a list of de-stressing techniques at your disposal whenever you need them is super helpful to cope with the pressure. You could try baths, essential oils, yoga, or even (my recent favorite) knitting—anything that brings you peace and gives you the chance to wind down from school mode.
Graduating high school as a junior is a daunting goal, but once you know where to start, it’s not all that scary. If I can do it, I’m confident that you can as well. I hope you’ve found my tips helpful to kick-start your accelerated academic journey, and best of luck to you!
Graduating high school early means starting your college search early. Dive in quickly and easily using our College Search tool!