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Early Graduation: Wise or Wacky?

Many high school seniors are contemplating whether or not to graduate a semester early.  They would be finished with WHS after finals in January 2011.  Even though that might sound good and exciting, is that really the best route for every senior? According to Karen Hollowell, an eHow contributer, “Students who graduate early also get a head start on meeting life’s challenges. Although life experiences are not always positive, early graduates will have to face challenges sooner than later and will have to develop in themselves the character and fortitude to persevere.”  If this is true, it sounds like a pain to have to deal with certain struggles sooner than you actually have to.

Senior Bertha Kelly, plans an early graduation and feels that it is the right decision for her. “I’m ready to get started on my own, preparing for my adult life,” she says.  Bertha describes herself as a “laid back student,”  who’s kept to herself and has not participated in any clubs or activities throughout high school.  Participating in school activities or events, however, can make your overall high school experience more interesting and fun, which makes it easier for many seniors to stay and finish out the school year.

But what about the kids who are involved in activities, but have other priorities which force them to graduate early?  Jolyssa Brown, another senior planning to graduate early, is in this type of situation. She is seven months pregnant and will be having her baby in January. She feels that “graduating from high school early is not the best decision unless you have a reason to, otherwise, you will get in the habit of lounging around the house.”  Jolyssa is an outgoing and talkative student who for the most part enjoys school.  She also stated that if she were not pregnant, she would have considered finishing out the school year.  Her situation is not uncommon among many high school seniors.

What about the kids who are not expecting children, or who don’t have other obligations that force them to leave early?  Should they leave school early just because they have the eligibility and simply qualify to leave school early?  Ms. Holloway points out that staying in school and taking advanced study (AP) courses is a good way to earn credit for college while still in school.  If a student earns a three or better on an AP exam, many colleges and universities are willing to give the student credit for the course, saving him or her thousands of dollars in tuition. Sophomores and juniors might consider taking AP courses their junior and senior years rather than graduating early.

Then there is the question of whether students who might have the credits to graduate, are really ready for the demands of college courses.  College courses can require reading and writing skills that some potential early grads might not have yet. “Students seeking early graduation have to meet with me and their parent to secure formal approval” says WHS Principal Dr. Steven Hamlin.   “In the past, these meetings were perfunctory, as counselors had already verified that students had appropriate credits for graduation. This year, I asked students about their ACT scores. Any student short of 20 was directed to retake the ACT, and three students far below 20, were counseled out of an early graduation. My advice was, ‘Why pay for classes at CLC when you can take them for free here?’”

These are questions that young adults must ask themselves before making the decision to graduate early. One of the first steps of being an adult is making the right decision for yourself, and ultimately this is a decision that individuals will have to figure out on their own.

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