Students get a head start by graduating early

Addison Neely

     Many students at Cedar Park cannot wait for their graduation day, and are ready to merge into the real world. For some however, that moment doesn’t come soon enough. More and more students are choosing to graduate either a semester or full year early. This not only shortens their high school career, but it ultimately gives them a head start on life.

     There are a variety of reasons why students choose to graduate early. Some reasons being that they are ready to get out on their own and become independent, and some are just ready to be done with high school.

     “I already have enough credits, so there was no point for me to stay in high school for another semester.” Ashleigh Berry, senior, said. “Plus I am just ready to get out.”

     Senioritis can play a vital role in the appeal to graduate early. Many students lose interest in participating in school and find it hard to focus and stay motivated. However, graduating early takes dedication, commitment and time. It also requires preparation and a plan. With the consent from parents and a school counselor, it only takes a signature and some paper work to get on the road to a shorter high school career. However, it’s not as simple as it seems. Many soon-to-be early graduates are taking initiative in obtaining their required credits. Students that graduate early are still expected to have all 26 credits; math, English, science, social studies, a fine art credit, foreign language, PE, communication applications, Technology applications, health, ACE and electives. All of this in a shorter amount of time.

     “I am taking government and economics at the same time. I am also taking English IV online as well as in school.” Alyssa Trujillo, a senior graduating a semester early, said. “I have a really busy academic schedule, but it will all be worth it in the end.”

     In order to commit to graduating early, many steps may be needed  including taking summer courses, taking single semester courses at the same time (like government, economics, communication applications) and taking online classes. But there is also a fourth alternative many students aren’t aware of; Credit by Examination. The exam allows students to “skip” a course if they do not need instruction to pass the end-of-course exam. This is normally an option for students of very high academic ability, but can be used for the purpose of graduating early.

      Those among the ever growing pool of early graduates receive many advantages. However, getting out of high school earlier does indeed have its drawbacks. The disadvantages range from social disconnections, busy schedules, high stress, etc.

     “I’ll miss prom because I’ll already be enrolled in college.” Berry said. “And when I come back to walk the stage, it just won’t be the same.”

     The main disadvantage would have to be the overall time it consumes. Many students feel overwhelmed with juggling work, extra-curricular activities and school. It can be hard to throw in even more academics into the mix.  Many consider this time consuming endeavor not worth the trouble whereas others disagree, and state the positives outweigh the negatives. Students who are graduating a whole year early are still required to follow the four-by-four plan, meaning they have to take four years of math and science as well as all previous requirements. Despite all the negatives, graduating early comes with long term benefits. It teaches you to have independence, a strong work ethic, along with time management skills. 

     Megan Havener is a junior who decided that graduating early was the right choice for her. She is graduating in 2010 instead of her original graduation date of 2011.

     “It’s really stressful,” Megan Havener said. “I didn’t really get a year to prepare for college, SAT, or the ACT. And I have to do a lot of stuff on my own.”

      Many participants can agree that the number one incentive for graduating early would have to be the scholarships available. The amount varies depending on whether or not you are graduating a semester or a full year early. It also depends on the classes taken. You receive a standard amount just for graduating early as well as another certain amount per AP class the student has taken.

     “I get lots of scholarships.” Havener said. “Plus, graduating early looks really good to colleges.”

     Every student here at Cedar Park High school has the ultimate goal of graduating and going off to college or to the real world. Some students are more hesitant than others about the idea of college and leaving home. Early graduates, however, cannot wait to get a kick start on their lives and enter the real world a little ahead of their peers.