Many students can’t wait to graduate, looking forward to leaving the drudgery of classwork behind for the more independent study that comes with college courses or to simply be done with education altogether and begin a new chapter of life.
Many parents and even students have concerns about graduating high school early. They worry that they may miss out on important social elements that senior year can bring as well as jumping into the adult world before being ready and truly mature enough. However, there are some academic and financial benefits of graduating high school early.
Benefits of Graduating High School Early
From getting a jump start on your chosen career path to cruising through college to enter the professional world with a degree in your preferred field, taking on the adult world a year early can be beneficial.
Good reasons to graduate high school early include:
- Avoid the last year of school agitation, often labeled as "senioritis"
- Able to attend college and begin coursework in your area of study sooner, which can propel you into a fascinating career of your choice
- Students who feel stifled in the high school environment can thrive in a college setting that is more independent
- College classwork is partially tailored by your interests
- Graduating early with high grades and high test scores on the ACT, SAT or both makes you stand out to college admissions officers
- For those who may want to explore other cultures or countries or study abroad, graduating early can allow you to travel before entering college
Downsides of Graduating Early
The last year of high school may seem to drag, but it is also filled with activities for seniors as they launch into the future. There is a sense of excitement as the group of graduates get ready to exit the final years of basic education and enter the adult world.
Graduating early also means leaving the protection and community that a high school setting can provide. Entering the adult world requires maturity and an ability to work and make decisions independently. The last year of high school is often less frantic than the previous years for students who have excelled in their studies. You may only need to take a few classes, leaving the rest of the day open to:
- Explore job opportunities in your expected major
- Sign up for volunteer work in your area of interest, which can lead to scholarships or class credit in college the following year
- Earn money at part-time jobs to pay for housing or other necessities when you are enrolled full time in college
- Relax with friends before the crush of college coursework consumes your free time
Financial Considerations for Early Graduation
Graduating early can launch you into the adult world, where you can earn more money by working full time. You can find a position that includes health insurance and benefits, such as a matching 401(k) program, and begin to build a financial foundation that will ensure a more stable future.
For students who are hoping to continue their education in college, there are a few ways that graduating early can benefit them financially. Students who take AP classes with college credit can shave a year of college off their tuition.
Some community colleges allow high school students to attend for free, including home-schooled students. Taking advantage of this type of program allows you to complete a full year of college while a junior in high school, saving you an entire year of tuition.
Continued Benefits of Graduating Early From High School
Students who graduate high school early also tend to finish all of the college coursework and get their degree early as well.
There are many reasons to graduate college early, from gaining access to excellent career opportunities to getting a jump start on a master's or doctoral degree.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.