High school students are required to have four English, three science and two consecutive foreign language courses in order to graduate. It seems nearly impossible that someone could manage to get all of these credits over within the span of three years. And for what reason? Missing out on one’s senior year—which is arguably the most exciting year in high school—means missing out on that last year of freedom and receiving your diploma alongside the people you’ve been in school with for years.
Diving right into college, though scary at 17, can definitely be beneficial in the long run. Especially for those with huge goals, the prospect of ruling the school as a 12th grader shouldn’t hinder them in achieving their dreams. Graduating early can give students the opportunity to be done with high school faster and help them explore other interests, such as foreign exchange programs or mission trips.
Since 8th grade, junior Marie Shepherdson knew she wanted to graduate early, despite the things she knew she would miss out on. “I felt like I was really ahead in math, so I took online classes,” said Shepherdson. “I ended up taking all online classes since it was really easy for me, and then I decided I was ready and I talked to my guidance counselor.” Shepherdson has taken four classes online: two courses in language and two in math.
With support from her friends and family, Shepherdson plans to attend Birmingham Young University in Utah, where she’s already been accepted. It’s been worth it, says Shepherdson, to get a head start in college, even if it means leaving the “fun” things behind. “I don’t feel like I’m wasting so much time taking nothing classes senior year,” she said. “I’m just jumping right into the real world.”
Guidance department head Susanne Powell says several academically strong students have approached her this year about graduating early. “For some students it’s a way of getting away from home and growing up: experiencing things that they wouldn’t ordinarily as a high school student,” said Powell. “[They can] certainly get a jump on getting done with college and getting into some things that can be relevant to [their] career goals, like getting a masters or a PhD.”
Early graduation isn’t recommended for every student; they should be mentally and academically prepared and have good time management skills. Some students need their senior year to prepare themselves to face the real world, while others prefer the quicker route towards their educational goals. It’s a huge choice to make and any student considering the 3 year program should think heavily and discuss it in great depth with their parents and guidance counselors.
Nataly Capote / Chief Copy Editor