Early Graduation: Things to Consider Before Making a Decision


"High school sucks." Some variation of this phrase has been uttered at one point by most high school students. The homework, the tests, the drama, and having to wake up before the sunrises all culminate to form a generally stressful environment for all those who enter. But if you had the chance to shorten this stressful time from 4 years to 3, would you?

There are a growing number of students who, for one reason or another, are deciding to skip their senior year and head straight for college. Juniors who have enough credits and have taken the courses required to graduate have the option to graduate early, usually with the condition that they provide a list of the colleges they are applying/have applied to or have already been accepted to a school. This idea may peak the interest of some, but is missing your senior year really worth it? Here are some things to consider:

The High School Experience

Whether it’s its ability to relate or just some odd cultural fascination with teenagers, cheesy movies set to the backdrop of high school have become a genre in their own right. These movies showcase all the events seniors participate in a light that could convince someone who life the rest of life is pretty lackluster in comparison to those wonderful memories of prom and football games. Despite the exaggeration of these clichéd stories, they do pose an interesting question to those looking to graduate early; do you want to miss out on a final year of high school memories? The freedoms senior year provides makes many former students look back on it as their favorite year of high school, as it was an opportunity to let go and have fun before going off to college. Even if for those who aren't as keen on the whole "high school experience" as others, it’s still worth considering the benefits (or lack thereof) of having an extra year before entering the chaos of work that is college.



For many, the hardest part about going to college, especially out-of-state, is leaving their friends. Sure, it's easy to stay connected through social media, but by graduating early, you are, some ways, leaving your friends in high school for college. Even if you are going to a community college, your experiences will be largely different from those of your high schooler friends, so it may be more difficult to connect with them than when you saw each other every day and could commiserate over the English homework. This is, however, all dependent on the individual; graduating early could also have a positive effect on your friendships. Spending too much time together can oftentimes strain a relationship, so time apart could be just you need; every person is different. Maybe all your friends are seniors or you just never really got along with anyone while in high school; college is the perfect place to find people you actually connect with.



Anyone who has searched for scholarships, online or otherwise, will tell you it is quite the process. The process becomes even more complicated for those graduating early. While you are graduating the same year as the seniors in your school, you technically aren't a senior, so the wording of scholarships becomes more important than ever. If the scholarship says "open to those graduating in ___ year" or "for student who are going into their freshmen year of college"  then you're in the clear, but when it says "open to all seniors in high school," the waters become murky.  Luckily, this technicality isn't fatal to one's chances of getting scholarships; it is more of a nuisance that can usually be resolved with an email to the provider of the scholarship. In addition, there are also some scholarships specifically for early graduates, though they tend to be specific to individual states.


High school is a time of great exploration, not only of the world but of the self. It's a time of refining tastes, changing value and new experiences that leave you, more often than not, much different from who you once were. Think about yourself in your freshmen year of high school; how much did you change in the time span of one or two years? If one or two years can you change you so dramatically, what can another year do? An extra year of high school could give you some well needed time to prepare. There are some students, however, who are much more mature than those the same age as them who have outgrown the high school curriculum, and those tend to be the students that should graduate early. In the end, however, the decision of whether or not to graduate early is all up the individual. Everyone is different and there is no one formula that can decide who should and who should not skip senior year. If you are considering early graduation, the best advice I can give you is to talk to your guidance counselor and your parents to find out what path is right for you.