Leaving the den


art by Ana Ramirez

Elad Gov-Ari

[heading size=”17″ margin=”10″]Students prepare for early graduation[/heading]At this time next year, junior Gabbi Schust, like her classmates, will be studying for final exams. The difference is she will be on a college campus instead of in the halls of RBHS.
Schust is one of nine students who will graduate early this year.
“I have doubled up on classes some years in order to make up for the gap. For instance, this year I’m taking AP English Language/AP United States History as well as AP Government,” said Schust, who said she had finished her math requirements by the end of her freshman year. “That has really allowed me to take all the core classes I needed without having to worry as much about taking electives. Last year I took chemistry and honors biology at the same time, which has allowed me to get all of my credits out of the way.”
RBHS counselor Dr. Jordan Alexander says graduating early can be difficult, as some students may not be mentally prepared to start college without that additional fourth year.
“Graduating a full year early is a challenge for most students,” Alexander said. “It’s definitely possible as we have students who do that quite often. It requires planning from almost sophomore year in terms of gathering those additional credits. This typically involves summer school and the students would need to focus on that early on. Graduating a semester early is also possible, and it can be done as late as junior year.”

For students to graduate early, they would have to double up on some classes, specifically English and math in order to be able to graduate in December, but that is primarily based off their choice of post-secondary education.
Different motives have pushed students to consider graduating early. Initially, for Schust, the idea of spending a year abroad was enough for her to take the challenge on.
“I originally wanted to graduate early in order to spend a year studying abroad but still not be a year behind my class,” Schust said. “My plans have now changed, though and I’m thinking of going straight to college. Academically, it hasn’t really been an issue. I have taken a very rigorous course load, so I don’t think I will be behind my peers in college.”
Schust is also fairly independent, so she thinks being away from home will be a refreshing change.

“There are obviously both advantages and disadvantages to this, starting with the fact that you might not be as well prepared with three years as you would be with four years of school, and for some mature students, this option certainly makes sense.” — Jordan Alexander, guidance counselor”

Likewise, sophomore Hannah Potter said the appeal of college has driven her to arrange her high school classes with hopes to graduate early.
“I’m planning to graduate a full year earlier,” Potter said. “This seems like the right choice for me as I intend to go to law school, which is an extra four years on top of the regular four of college, and so the earlier I start, the earlier I get out. I’ve also been recruited [to attend] by some colleges such as Notre Dame and Yale, and they all look so interesting and fun, so I’m really looking forward to start my college career.”
Dr. Alexander, however, does not think everyone will be prepared to take the leap.
“Students have several reasons they want to graduate early,” Alexander said. “The one that’s most appealing, I think, is that they want to proceed with their post-secondary experience sooner.”
Alexander has had students who have graduated a full year early, applied to college and attended what would have been their senior year.
“There are obviously both advantages and disadvantages to this, starting with the fact that you might not be as well prepared with three years as you would be with four years of school, and for some mature students, this option certainly makes sense,” Alexander said. “Some students want to take a gap year or gap semester to get some work experience or travel or take some part-time courses and that makes sense as well.”
Schust, despite taking rigorous classes at RBHS, still feels she had an advantage having attended Columbia Independent School (CIS) up until the seventh grade.
“It helped me gather my required credits because they had a mandatory foreign langauge program.” Schust said. “This required that you take Spanish until the 6th grade, and I actually continued to take it all the until I left, which granted me a Spanish credit. Also, CIS is about two years ahead of CPS in math, so I took Algebra One as a seventh grader, Geometry in eigth grade and Algebra Two as a freshman. All this put me on the fast track to getting my math credits out of the way, and made it easier to attain the rest.”
Although graduating early has a certain appeal, Alexander suggests another alternative that could perhaps give the best of both worlds.
“The other thing we always talk about as counselors with graduating early is going part time senior year,” Alexander said. “Going part time allows you to finish the courses you need throughout the year and then you can also enroll part time in college classes at local universities, so it’s possible to have kind of one foot in high school and still get the head start on college.”
infographic by Ana Ramirez
Are you planning on graduating early? Leave a comment below!