early graduation

“They said I can graduate early if I skip guard this year.”

Those words were the tap that sent dominoes falling without a way to stop and with no do-over option. Once you tell a teenager that they don’t have to be at school . . . they have no intention of being at school. Meetings with school counselors are no help because they clearly want students out of the school. “Why should she be here if she doesn’t need to be here?” Not just my child, but all the parents who tweeted that their children were also told they should graduate early. Parents who, not so coincidentally, have children at the exact same school as my child.

Here’s the thing that teenagers don’t recognize. No matter how draconian the administration, high school is safer and easier than life after high school. Yes, the safety part comes at the loss of potential fun and freedom. Doing dangerous and stupid things in a quest to declare your adulthood isn’t supposed to come until the end of twelfth grade, which happens about the same time as your eighteenth birthday. Four years of high school are for learning and maturing. Leaving school early eliminates the precious time that teenagers NEED to develop things like self-control, time management and the oh-so-important recognition that you are not invulnerable.

Schools should be motivating students to take more classes and explore new subjects. Schools should not be shoving teenagers out the door. Leaving school early means missed opportunities for education. Visit conquercollege.com for more educational online tips. Education that provides the foundation for a successful college experience.

Are these early graduates starting college or vocational education earlier than their peers? Last spring, I ran into a teenager from the exact same school as my child and the other children who are being encouraged to leave early. She was working in a restaurant where I was eating lunch. I asked her if she was taking college classes. “No. I’m waiting for everyone else to graduate so we can all start together in the fall.” Instead of being in high school or college, she was enjoying getting to “stay out late and sleep all day when they don’t need me at work.” Does that sound more than a little bit more dangerous than being in high school with your peers? Does this extra semester of party instead of learning make her more or less prepared for college?

My child isn’t being given the option to spend a semester playing. When she leaves high school, she will begin college. She’ll be starting in January instead of August, when freshmen are normally welcomed into the social community connected to college. She won’t have the luxury of going into the college of her dreams. Since she’ll be months away from her eighteenth birthday, she is going to have to be in a school close to home for her first semester. Everything about this is awkward and complicated instead of natural and appropriate. The counselor who knocked over that first domino did my child a disservice. They are hurting instead of helping their students. They have all lost sight of the purpose and gift that is high school.

5 thoughts on “early graduation

  1. Agreed. My teen’s eyes lit up when the neighbor mentioned he gets to graduate early this year. BTW, neighbor is NOT entering any program in January. His plan is to do nothing until fall. Bad, bad idea.

  2. I completely understand your view on this, but please consider the alternative. Notwithstanding the fact that I could’ve gone to college after sophomore year because of a special program University of Texas had, when I moved to Tennessee in the middle of sophomore year, I was way ahead of my classmates. I had sufficient credits to graduate after junior year but the school wouldn’t allow it. They wouldn’t even allow dual enrollment with a junior college.

    So I hung around, wasted a year, didn’t ever study, and completely eroded every study skill I’d ever had. College was a gigantic challenge–one that I really don’t think it had to be if I’d gone when I was ready instead of when the school was ready to send me. In the end, I just gave up.

    Should “early graduation” equal sleeping in all the time and loafing around the house? Absolutely not. But I have to be just a little jealous that your teen has the opportunity to better herself NOW (well, OK, in January) as opposed to sitting around taking stupid classes that won’t help her next year like I had to do.

    Graduating early shouldn’t be the norm. Students should have to earn the privilege AND should have to show that they’re going to continue their education immediately. In some ways things have gotten better for kids. In others, yeah, schools are pushing them to grow up too quickly and in an environment that’s unfamiliar.

    What I’d say to her: go get ’em!

  3. Meredith – First, schools offer almost limitless dual-enrollment options that able students can use to continue learning and preparing for full-time college. Students opt to graduate early instead because they think it makes them “free.” They’re not free. They are still underage teenagers. Second, recognize what you are saying about your foundation from a state other than TN. Our students enter college and have the floor pulled out from under them when they are faced with college level expectations. TN students, as things are now, need to take advantage of every minute of those four years of high school to prepare for college.

  4. Cathy I agree this is concerning. Would you give me a call so I can get more specific and maybe do something about this in the future?
    Thanks.

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