Unless it’s for a reason, students shouldn’t be graduating early

More and more high school students are choosing to graduate early. Some are graduating a semester early, and some are ending high school a full year earlier. 

Sometimes, choosing early graduation is for a specific reason. If students plan to go to graduate school, for example, and don’t want school taking up half of their lives, they may choose to cut their high school and college years short.

Additionally, students who want to go to college but cannot afford it may need to spend a semester working in order to pay tuition.

However, from my experience, very few students graduate high school early for reasons as specific as these. More often than not, they graduate early simply because they’re “tired of high school” and want to get out.

If that is your only reason, I have to disagree with you. If you don’t have a plan for your life after high school, you’re better off graduating in May of your senior year.

I know it may not seem like it at times, but your high school years are truly some of the best years of your life. When else in your life can you see your friends five days a week, play sports all year for free, participate in a musical ensemble, star in a play and be surrounded by supportive adults who are here to help you learn and accomplish your goals?

If you choose to end this time early, then you will be ahead of the rest of your peers in your adult life. When they are still in school, you will be working, paying bills, paying taxes and doing all the other “adulting” things. Most people in the United States end up working a little over 40 years before retiring. Do you really want to add one more year simply because you didn’t like high school?

Additionally, if you choose to graduate early, you are missing out on so many opportunities to improve your life later on. If college is your next step, high schools offer many different AP classes free of charge, and Spartanburg County students can be connected to SCC and take courses for free.

 Students who want to go to college but are graduating early lose chances to take those classes because they’re so focused on taking the courses required for graduation. Not only that, but they’re losing money because they will end up paying for those courses in college when they could’ve taken them at no cost.

If the workforce is your next step, early graduation can be harmful in that area as well. Swofford Career Center lets students learn many different trades that often lead to well paying jobs. Chapman also offers courses such as Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship, which teach life skills such as money management. 

Early graduates often miss out on these opportunities because again, they’re taking whatever’s required for graduation, or they don’t stay in school long enough to earn certification in their trade. Swofford doesn’t allow students to take classes until their sophomore year, and many programs require a certain number of years before students can be certified. If students aren’t in school long enough to complete the required years, they can’t learn that trade and will be stuck in a lower-paying job. 

I know this is a bit of an unpopular opinion right now, but I believe that unless you have a specific plan after graduation that makes sense to cut down on a year of school, students should not be graduating early.

High school may not be the most fun thing in the world, but it’s an opportunity that you will not get ever again in your life. You should take advantage of every second you are in this building because it offers so many avenues to learn, grow and develop before you enter the real world.