Early Graduates


Lacey Jones

As May approaches, many students’ minds are on graduation. For the majority of them, four years marks the end of their high school career. Though for some students, their schedules have worked around a plan to graduate a semester or year earlier than their peers. This is a relatively new concept, but the past few years have shown an increase in early graduation rates.


Why do students graduate early? 

Students graduate for a wide variety of reasons. The most common ones include pursuing an opportunity before college, such as an internship, traveling, and the military, sports at the collegiate level, and starting in the workforce or college early. Students can pursue opportunities that high school would otherwise hinder by earning enough credits to graduate at an earlier time. Some states, including Indiana, Utah, Idaho, Minnesota, and South Dakota, are providing early graduation scholarships, showing that early graduation has the potential to benefit the schools as well. Scholarships encourage more students to pursue early graduation, in an effort to lower instructional costs in districts to fund other programs, such as at Early Childhood schools. 


How do students graduate early? 

In Ohio, students have a 20 credit requirement to graduate, so how do students graduate early? Students may have earned required credit early on, taking CP classes an 8th-grade year, or by taking summer classes to bypass courses during the school year. Some students can test out of certain classes, progressing to more advanced courses early on in their high school career. Many students, though, take online classes in addition to their current classes a junior year. It is much easier to graduate a semester early, rather than a whole year, as it can become a course overload and results in more planning at an earlier time. Even though there is a lot to consider, early graduation is absolutely possible for many students.

Pros and Cons


Many students wouldn’t consider graduating early even if they could. Missing out on the senior year, sports, dances, and time with friends and family are more than enough to turn students away from that option. Going to college or pursuing an opportunity independently can be overwhelming and some may not be mature enough to handle the stress and new environment. However, many students who do pursue early graduation put a lot of planning, work, and thought into such a decision. For some, graduating early, ensures that they will start college on time. Students may not have loved the high school experience and are ready to move on to something else. 


West Students


Here at West we have had our own early graduates. Caitlyn Crawford, a junior, is graduating a semester early to enter the National Guard. Her decision was based on going to complete her job training earlier and be on time for college. The only thing holding her back was her credit situation. Caitlyn had to find non-traditional options for finalizing her credits. When asked if she felt she made the right decision, she said yes. “I was worried I might be missing out on the end of my senior year, but it doesn’t feel weird to move on from something my peers are still a part of. I feel like it’s time to leave high school.” From her perspective, she feels that graduating early is becoming more common because high school is changing. It is more stressful than it used to be and that it makes more sense to be that stressed in college rather than high school. Her advice to anyone considering graduating early is to “consider all of their options and make sure that they have a plan for after [high school].” Caitlyn is most excited about the experiences she is going to gain from the military.