Juniors start future graduating early

Jocelyn Cheung, Staff Writer

The National Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR), or the percentage of students who

The National Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) is the percentage of students who graduate within the full four years of high school. When a student graduates early, they graduate with a standard diploma. There are slight differences between a standard diploma and an advanced diploma as shown above. (Jocelyn Cheung)

graduate within the full four years of high school, reaches 86%. However, with individual dreams and goals for the future, some students make the decision to graduate high school early to get a head start with their careers or other plans. While a very small number of students choose this path, it is still an option some decide to pursue.

“Some people are just done with high school–[the reasons] being mental health, being family issues or just [being] to move on to the next thing,” counselor Dwayne Peyton said. “If you graduate early, your options are still open because you still have that high school diploma. You can start a two-year college, four-year college, trade school, take a gap year, travel… the options are endless.”

When a student decides to graduate early, creating a plan, ideally by sophomore year, is a part of the process. First, the student should see how many more credits they will need to graduate in the shortened time period. Then students need to talk with their family and counselor to discuss how they will fit all their credits needed and finish requirements in order to graduate early. They should then create a timeline of when they will execute this plan.

There are also parts of senior year that can be missed, such as senior prom or graduation. Some also have to give up getting an advanced diploma in order to finish their required high school credits within three years, and instead, they complete a standard diploma. 

Junior Joanna Kim has decided to graduate early to major in music to play guitar, and feels that finishing the full four-year plan of high school is not necessary for her. She applied to Towson University, James Madison University and Shenandoah Conservatory.

“I have really big dreams and I want to succeed faster,” Kim said. “I feel like continuing high school is not going to help me for the path I’m going.”

In order to meet the required number of credits and receive a high school diploma, some students take extra classes during the summer or online to fulfill the credits. Once they meet these requirements, those students will graduate in the summer. Instead of one graduation for the seniors solely from CHS, there is one ceremony for summer graduates with the entirety of Fairfax County Public Schools.

“It’s not too hard since I know how to schedule things and I have a set time during my day to work on my online class,” Kim said. “Also since it’s self paced, that makes it a little easier for me. I’m also just excited to graduate early so I’ll do anything to make sure that happens.” 

Although graduating early may give students the advantage of getting a head start at their future, there are some disadvantages that come with the option. According to career and college specialist Khristie Greiner, because graduating early doesn’t show up on the student’s transcript, it doesn’t give them an advantage when applying for college.

“Colleges still like to see four years in high school of the five core subjects,” Greiner said. “They’re looking for work ethic [and] progression.”

Because making this decision may be a more difficult route, the student should weigh the pros and cons and discuss with their counselor whether this will be the most beneficial. According to College Raptor, by going to college earlier, one may get an academic challenge they wish. On the contrary, going to college earlier may be more difficult as the maturity level of other students is not the same.

“You graduating early doesn’t stop you from doing anything,” Peyton said. “It just may change what it looks like.”