High school is many things to different people. Many love it, others hate it. But for whatever reason, some students decide to check out early. This process of early graduation has become popular in the past few years, according to Counselor Judy Prothro, who says the average number of early graduates has gone up from three to five.
“Students are anxious to get out of high school and into college,” Prothro said. “More and more students are feeling this way and want to get away from the high school atmosphere.”
So what happens to those students who want to graduate early but still want to throw their tasseled caps into the air? Many seniors live for that single moment of glory when they stride across a brightly illuminated stage to receive their high school diploma, a document they have worked toward for four whole years. This mere piece of paper contains students’ entire past and their imminent future.
“A student who graduates early can still go to graduation,” Prothro said. “If they don’t want to, however, they can pick up their diploma at the end of the school year at the registrar’s office.”
Since the credits needed to graduate from high school are originally planned to be earned over a four year period, students need to take a few extra courses in addition to the seven per semester at this school.
“A student would need to take seven classes for their first three years of high school,” Prothro said. “Then they would need to take one additional English course at a junior college, like Foothill. They would get most of second semester off, and in some rare cases, students can graduate up to a year early. That is extremely rare, though.”
Junior Leila Thomas is such as rare student. A member of Marti’s Dance Studio in downtown Los Altos since she was two, Leia decided to graduate early so she could test her independence and meet new faces.
“I took some of my classes in summer school and at the school for independent learners,” Leila said. “So when I realized that I was ahead in credits and only needed two classes my senior year to fulfill the requirements, I decided to graduate early.”
Senior Erica Tarens also decided to graduate early last semester to experience the next phase of her life.
“I was ready to be away from high school and the people,” Erica said. “Not that high school wasn’t fun, I was just ready for something different.”
Though Leila and Erica are looking forward to a little time to spread their wings and venture out on their own, they’ll miss the life they had at school
“The things I’ll be missing the most [are] my friends and my family,” Leila said. “My parents and my dog are moving to Hawaii next year.”
Erica realizes that she is missing out on one of the most anticipated parts of high school.
“I’m going to really miss my second semester [of senior year],” Erica said. “It’s what every senior dreams of. That is … the only thing I regret about my decision to leave.”
Sometimes the hardest choice for early graduates to make is what to do with their time off.
“I don’t really know what I’m going to do,” Erica said. “For the past month I’ve been between here and Tahoe snowboarding. I’m hoping to get some relaxing in and just enjoy the free time.”