How To Graduate High School Early – 5 Tips
Looking to earn all high school credits and graduate early? You could be wanting to join college early, have an exciting internship offer, or want to start working.
The good news is that completing high school early is often not a big hassle like it seems.
In this piece, you’ll find tips and all the information you need on how to graduate early in a less challenging way. It’ll also help you know whether graduating early from high school is the right decision to make.
What Does Graduating From High School Mean?
In the United States, a typical high school education takes four years. Those who intend to graduate early will typically aim to finish their studies in less than four years, normally in three or three and a half years.
By graduating early, you’ll get the same diploma as other graduates in your school. Your transcript will not have a special tag that indicates that you graduated early. The only difference is that it will contain lesser semesters than the typical high school transcript.
4 Reasons to Graduate Early from High School
Is graduating high school early worth it? Below are four of the common reasons why people strive to complete high school studies in less time
Starting Higher Education Early
You probably want to get a head start on a technical school or college. If you have a lot of schools left – like intend to get a Ph.D. or attend a med school – and want to be ahead so that you can complete schooling earlier, you might want to do this. You’d also be interested in attending part-time college and graduate in your early 20s. Finishing high school early enough will help you make each of these situations achievable.
Pursuing an Opportunity Before College
You could be having an opportunity that you intend to benefit from but is not related to school. It could be a job, an internship, or any other opportunity you think is worth completing high school studies early enough for.
Gap years, in which high school students take a year or so off studies to work, travel, or have a different experience, are getting more and more popular among high school students.
If you decide to do one, you have a lot of options based on your interests. You could work as a volunteer, help with an archaeological dig, work in a theater, and so on. Spending one year away from school can enable you to get some good, enriching experiences.
Starting Work Soon
If you know what you’d like to do professionally and do not intend or need to join college to join that field, you might want to graduate as soon as possible and join the workforce.
Starting your career at an early age can be great for you if you are ready to put in the effort needed to succeed. This could also be good for you if you want to start earning right away to support yourself or your family.
You Don’t Enjoy High School.
If you don’t like being in high school, then you have reason enough to graduate early.
However, as this is a legitimate reason to graduate early, note that it will take effort on your part to complete your high school studies to leave earlier.
5 Steps to Graduating High School Early
1. Be Clear on When You Want to Graduate
This first step is quite simple: all you have to do is have clarity on how early you want to graduate. Is it a semester early? A whole year? How long do you intend to spend pursuing what it is you’re doing other than attending high school?
When figuring this out, remember that it’s often easier to graduate just a semester early than an entire year. If that doesn’t seem long enough time to you, remember that even if you only leave school a semester early, you’ll finish high school in January or December. In that case, you’d join college the following September, which gives you approximately eight months to pursue another opportunity, work, or travel.
Your academic advisor would help you decide on this. They’re a great resource to have, and they’ll be able to smoothen the process.
2. Know the Number of Credits You Need to Graduate
Almost every school needs its students to get a certain number of credits so that they can graduate. Look this at your student handbook or ask your academic advisor to know how many credits you’re yet to complete.
Good for you; the number of credits for many high schools often does not need you to complete four full-time years of school.
The number of credits you need to complete isn’t all there is to worry about, though, so let’s proceed to step 3.
3. Know the Classes You Need to Graduate
Use your student handbook or talk to your advisor to understand the classes that students at your high school must complete to graduate. This will usually require a minimum number of semesters of subjects, as well as some other requirements.
Make a list of all the classes you are yet to take. Sometimes the requirements are usually general, like taking six math semesters, while other times, they’re more precise (e.g., all students must take geometry and algebra). Be keen on this when making your list. Remember that most high schools need four years of English and fewer years of other core subjects.
4. Know the Classes that the College You Want to Join Require
Most of the time, the bare minimum requirements for high school graduation are not enough to help you join top colleges. For instance, your high school might only need you to take two years studying a specific subject, but the colleges you want to join might want three to four years.
Go through the requirements for admission in colleges you’re interested in joining, and add any other requirements they have to the classes you ought to take in high school.
Remember that you’ll want to take more classes in the subject(s) you intend to study in college. Thus, if you’re planning on majoring in biology, you want to take more years of it.
5. Create a Schedule for When to Take your Other Classes
After knowing how many credits and classes you need to complete, it’s time to figure out how you’ll graduate early from high school.
- Make blank schedules for each semester left.
- Start filling in the blanks – start with the classes that are required to graduate.
- Start adding other classes you’d like to take or those that would help you get into college.
- Sum up all the credits you will have completed.
- Look at what classes are leftover on your list.
What is the Earliest Age You Can Graduate High School?
You can only graduate early from high school if you’re at least 16. You can, however, graduate early and enter college at an even younger age using a GED certificate. Depending on the state you live in, getting a GED certificate requires one to five years of work or study outside of high school. In some states, you can even get your GED certificate online.
Here are some general requirements for getting a GED certificate:
- You must be at least 16 years old; in some states, 17 is the minimum requirement.
- Complete a curriculum equivalent to what students in your state who graduate from high school would take (usually this includes classes in social studies, math, science, and English).
- You may also be required to pass an exam testing your knowledge of the material (usually this is only done if you’re under 18 years old).
- Some states also require that you either take a class or have already acquired 22 credits towards high school graduation before applying to take the GED test.
Take it upon yourself to research more about how your state awards a GED certificate if interested in this option. Be sure to note that you’ll still have to meet several requirements, including minimum GPA requirements after you get your GED.
While earning your high school diploma early could help streamline your path to a college degree, it also means you may be starting out in adult life earlier than others and will need to find ways to support yourself financially. If you’re still unsure as to whether or not being an “early bird” is the right choice for you, you can take as much time as necessary to weigh all of the pros/cons of graduating early and then decide which side of the fence would suit you best. Meanwhile, do keep in mind that many colleges are actually accepting students who graduate from high school at 16 – if this applies to you, don’t count yourself out just yet!
If you need extra credits or classes, start thinking of ways you can fit them in outside of the normal school day. Some options are summer classes, taking classes at a nearby community college, or attending online classes. For each of the options, discuss it with your advisor before enrolling to ensure you’ll get the needed credit(s).
Once you’ve figured out how you’ll attend each of these extra classes, add the details to your schedule.
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