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How to graduate from high school early

Published April 1, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Graduating from high school early won’t be an easy feat. It takes a lot of hard work to graduate early and ensure you have everything in place to pursue a college degree.

    If you’re considering trying to graduate high school early, think carefully if it’s right for you. If you ultimately think it is, the earlier you start formulating a plan to actualize this goal, the better off you’ll be. And, as you figure this out, rely on resources like your parents, your high school counselor, and other academic advisors.

    Keep reading as we cover how to decide if graduating early is a good choice for you and how to put a plan together to do it.

    Decide if graduating early is right for you

    Graduating from high school early isn’t for everyone. As you weigh the decision, it’s important to consider whether it’ll help or hurt you in the long run.

    Here are a few reasons why this might be the right choice for you:

    • Your high school classes aren’t challenging you
    • You already have a fledgling career, and graduating early is going to help your career progress
    • You anticipate going into a technical or highly specialized field with lengthy schooling and want to get a head start
    • You want to take classes at a college before starting college full-time

    While there are many reasons why this might be the right choice for you, it’s not the right choice for everyone. The high school years are critical, socially and developmentally. In other words, don’t rush graduating from high school just because you might be able to.

    Steps to take if you want to graduate high school early

    There are a few steps you should take to prepare to graduate early from high school while also assessing if it’s the right choice for you.

    Talk to your high school counselor

    High school counselors are there to help you navigate your high school years and the college admissions process. When you begin contemplating graduating early, go to a counselor for advice and insights on how to pull it off.

    You’ll want to speak to a counselor as soon as possible, as there’s a lot of planning to be done ahead of graduating early. Here are some things you’ll want to figure out during your meeting:

    • What are the requirements for graduating early?
    • Is there is a feasible class schedule that can help you meet your goal of graduating early?
    • What are the minimum academic requirements for early graduation (like if you need a particular grade point average)?

    After meeting with your counselor, you should come away with an idea of what’s possible when it comes to graduating early. From there, you can begin to outline your plan, including what classes you need to take and how they’ll fit into your schedule.

    Come up with a plan

    Once you have a sense of the requirements for graduating early from your high school, you’ll be able to begin formulating a plan to do it (this might involve more meetings with your high school counselor).

    Planning to graduate high school early means you’ll likely have an intense course load, and pulling this off might involve getting creative. For instance, can you take online classes, attend summer school, or are there alternative education opportunities that’ll help you meet your requirements?

    Plot this all out, and get a plan in place for how you’re going to fill all of your requirements. Even if you're just a freshman in high school, you might want to consider mapping out several years of schooling as soon as you can.

    Consider all the options

    If you want to graduate early from high school so you can get a head start on college, there may be other options to consider. For example, dual enrollment programs allow you to earn college credits while you’re still enrolled in high school. In some cases, you can enroll in one of these programs and graduate with your high school diploma and associate degree. Make sure you consider all available options before making a decision about graduating early from high school.

    Final thoughts

    Graduating from high school early takes a lot of hard work and dedication, not to mention the determination to figure out the logistics of where and how to take all the needed courses. If you feel it’s the right move for you, be sure to talk to your parents and your high school counselor to devise the right plan to help you succeed.