On ASB President Teejan Saddy’s first day of her third year of high school, she walked into her counselor’s office a junior and walked out a senior, and she isn’t the only example of a three-year CHS student; every year, typically one or two students graduate in three years instead of the traditional four.
According to CHS counselor Jennifer Goodbody, students graduate early as a way to get out of high school, sometimes for a job or sometimes simply because they have enough credits to do so. These students have one less year of high school and gain one year to start their adult life…at the cost of missing out on their junior year, graduating with a different group of students, and, as some claim, missing out on the full high school experience.
According to Goodbody, the CHS graduation requirement is 240 credits, with students getting 70 credits each of the first three years. Yet some students find themselves with more than enough credits to graduate within three years.
Saddy is just one example of the occasional CHS students who have graduated in less than four years. Her reasoning behind an early graduation is that she had the credits to graduate and wanted to get a jump start on her college career.
“I’m the type of person who doesn’t really want to waste time, and I like to just get out there and do my thing, so I just figured why not be in college next year,” Saddy says.
Motivations for not taking the four-year high school path range from an early diagnosis of senioritis to an opportunity to take a full-time job.
Junior-senior Paul Krayniy lists his early graduation as a way to escape high school.
“High school sucks so I decided I wanted to get out of here and live my life,” Krayniy says.
Although one less year of high school may sound tempting to many, graduating early has its downsides.
“You don’t have the full nine-month access to our curriculum, our teachers,” CHS college counselor Darren Johnston explains. “You don’t get the benefits of Grummon’s [AP Language and Composition] course for nine months, you don’t get Stafford’s passionate [AP U.S. History] for nine months.”
Along with losing the advantages of junior year courses, students also have to double up on some of their core classes, such as English and history.
“There is just less opportunity to benefit from what the class offers because you’re so crammed with credits trying to get ahead of the game. It’s just more triage,” college counselor Jeff Schatz says.
“You’re sort of cheated of half of the junior year education, which usually tends to be what most students come back and say was their most beneficial or favorite year,” Johnston adds.
However, this year’s two students planning to graduate early say they don’t feel that they are missing out, but instead gaining a year of adulthood and a way to start college early.
“I hate high school,” says Krayniy, who is excited to start his college career. “This sucks. I can’t wait for college.”
For early graduates that want to attend a four-year university, they have to think quick on their feet, since they don’t have their junior year to look at colleges and see where they want to go; they also have a smaller sample of teachers from which to get letters of recommendation.
“You have to explain to colleges. There has to be a reason. They are going to tell them what the point of accelerating high school was.” Schatz explains that students have to ask themselves, “Why am I willing to go there at 16 or 17 years old? Do I feel out of my element? Will I be successful once I get there? Am I trying to get out of something here or am I working toward something there?”
Both Krayniy and Saddy plan to go to a four-year university after their early graduation this June.
“The payoff of getting through college faster is worth it in the long run,” Saddy says.
Although some students don’t feel the need to stay longer than needed at high school, Goodbody, Schatz and Johnston agree that rushing to the diploma can mean missing out on some special high school experiences.
“Why not have the whole experience?” Goodbody says. “Why not have four years of getting involved and maybe stepping out and going into clubs that you never thought you would do and experiencing things you never thought you would do?”
Both Goodbody and Schatz do not recommend early graduation; however, if students have a reason, the counselors will help them with the steps along the way.
“I don’t think students should look at it as ‘What am I going to lose?’ but what you are you going to gain,” Johnston says. “And only those students who feel that what they are going to get is far more important than the potential losses—those are the kids who should do it.”