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May 14, 2024

Thinking About Graduating Early?

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Graduation, group and back view of students celebrate education success. Behind of excited graduates at campus celebration for study goals, university award and learning motivation for happy future

Graduating Early

The process of graduating from high school early can either be very easy or quite difficult. Earning your credits faster, taking on a second core class second semester, doing online or summer school. Not very fun, but not always needed. Some students may already be caught up on most of their credits.

Students who are considering graduating early must meet with counselors, teachers, and talk to their parents to make a plan for meeting all graduation credit requirements in time.

The Process: What it takes to graduate early

If you’re thinking about graduating early, expect a full load of work and classes. In order to graduate high school in Colorado, every student requires 240 credits including;

  • 40 language arts 
  • 30 math 
  • 30 science 
  • 25 social studies 
  • 5 humanities 
  • 10 world language or culture
  • 10 fine and applied arts
  • 15 wellness
  • 5 financial literacy
  • 5 economics
  • 65 elective credits

As for how to complete your credits, it’s completely up to you and your schedule ad workload, and how early you plan to graduate. If you graduate a whole year early, summer/online classes may be required to complete your senior class credits. 

Other options are being placed in a Mind Center class, which gives you the opportunity to be in a class where you can get the help you need while working on homework or online classes if you choose to do one. 

If you want to avoid online and summer classes, you could fit most if not all of your required classes. When I was thinking about graduating early, I took algebra 1 the first semester of my sophomore year, then during the second semester, I took geometry. That left me with only two more classes that can be easily done online or in person. Online classes are not required unless you need to make up classes, making graduating early fairly easy.

If you are serious about graduating early and know you can make it, a request form signed by your parents must be submitted to your school counselor, who then completes the form and submits it to the principal. The form must be complete and turned in at least 30 days before the planned graduation date, depending on your school. The earlier the better.

Potential Benefits

Graduating early gives you a chance to get a head start on your next step. Is it working and saving up or is it heading straight into college? While you may not be able to get into a four-year college quite yet, there is the option to start at a community college. As a bonus, some colleges offer Early Graduate scholarship programs.

From TMHS freshman Jullisa, “Graduating early could give me the chance to be around family and friends before leaving for college, and I’ll get the chance to work and save up and help my mom.”

Instead of going right into school again, you could take a gap year. Have fun and see and experience the world before you end up in school for years or in a job you hate or too broke to go anywhere. 

Potential Drawbacks to Think About

Some students who are thinking about graduating early may need to bring on extra classes. Others are able to fit their remaining classes in their last semester, but some may need to do online/summer courses. It’s all up to the students requirements. However, needing those online classes is not fun. It’s all books and videos. Sure, it’s a lot like being in class learning, but even more boring in my opinion.

“As a Concurrent Enrollment teacher, I want to make sure students who want to go to college but are thinking about graduating early to consider the economic benefit of staying in high school all four years,” Ms. Halboth mentioned. “Talk to your counselor about your plans because you could graduate early and pay for that year of college or you could potentially get those college credits for free in high school.”

The benefits don’t just end here, according to Halboth: “Because I took so many college credits in high school, when they were cheaper or even free, I graduated undergrad in three years, which saved me tens of thousands of dollars.”

While graduating early can be more beneficial depending on your career/educational path, Timnath counselors strongly recommend staying for your last year of high school: your senior year. 

“That last year or semester of high school can really be magical, “Mrs. Vasa stated, “and by leaving early, you could miss out on so many opportunities and special experiences.” 

So, Should You?

The decision of whether or not to graduate early is a very personal decision. How will it help you? Are you willing to put in the work to finish faster? What’s next and how will you get there?

I would say if you have not graduated yet, don’t. Highschool is important for social skills, and a time to have fun and learn. Have fun before you’re thrown out into the real world.


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