Early Graduation: Programs In Place To Aid Academically Advanced Students

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All across America, there are programs in place to aid academically advanced students to work at a faster, more vigorous pace. These programs can start as early as elementary school with the Advanced Academics Program (AAP), continue into middle school with Accelerated Academics (AA). Options such as these exist in high schools as well with programs such as International Baccalaureate (IB), Dual-Enrollment, and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Starting in middle school, students also have the option to take honors courses for an accelerated, more advanced classroom environment. Many counties also give students the option to graduate high school early, in most cases three years instead of four. In order to graduate early, many students must to take online courses or cut out elective slots so the student can take more core classes. Although some believe that early graduation allows students who are more intelligent to work at an accelerated course that is better suited for their success, students should not have the option to complete high school early because it puts too much stress on the student, the student will not be properly equipped for college, and the challenge is unnecessary.

Graduating early puts an inordinate amount of stress on a student. Students Many students take time in high school to do activities other high school students may enjoy. Whether these are outside of school or during school hours as an elective slot, these activities provide time for a student to relax, do a recreational activity, and take a break from studying and academics. If a student chooses to fill elective slots with core classes, their homework and study time outside of school will increase and become disproportionate to the amount of free time an advanced student would have. Alternatively, if the student opts to take online classes, young scholars will have less time after school for both homework and extracurricular or recreational activities. Depression and suicide rates are already disconcertingly elevated in high schools, and even more so at a high school with rigorous schedules and classes, such as Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology. If students do not have time to relax and enjoy themselves, the students are at a higher risk of depression, suicide, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Filling up schedules with core classes, online classes, and an increased course load can severely impact a teenager’s life both mentally and physically.

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Secondly, students should not be able to graduate early because some will not be prepared for college. Some students, even when graduating high school in the typical four years, are not ready for college either mentally, emotionally, or physically, Options such as gap years and community or online colleges are in place for these students. If a student takes an accelerated high school course load, there is a larger chance of them not being mature enough for college. While these students could take a gap year or take courses at a local community college if students are not ready, there was then no point in them graduating high school early, as many high schools offer college courses anyway. In addition to not being ready for college, young scholars might not have a strong enough resume to make it into a college of their choice, More and more, colleges are putting increased emphasis on extracurricular activities and leadership positions held during a student’s time in high school. Because an accelerated student likely replaced electives and extracurricular activities with graduation required classes and online courses, a student could have a less impressive application than a student who took four years of high school, allowing for more electives and activities outside of school. Graduating early makes a student less prepared for college both mentally and with the components of their application.

Finally, the challenge that comes with graduating high school early is unnecessary. Because many high schools offer classes at a more advanced or college level, such as IB, AP, and Dual Enrollment, there is no practical purpose for a student to graduate early. This is the case especially with students who wish to continue onto college. Taking college courses in high school can roll over and allow students to opt out of some college courses, allowing college students to access an advanced track and graduate college early at the same age they would if they had left high school early. Because of this, there is no logical reason to complete high school at an accelerated course because it is possible to save the same amount of time by taking an accelerated course in college, when the student is more academically ready to pursue the challenge of an increased course load and can take more classes associated with the students major as opposed to having to take general education classes. Completing high school at an accelerated course is impractical because it provides a needless challenge and the same outcome can be reached by taking an accelerated program in college.

Ultimately, graduating from high school in three years instead of four should not be an option presented to advanced level students because of the high stress levels and mental health concern, the unpreparedness for college both mentally and in terms of their outside activities, and the inessential challenge for students that can be sought out in college. 

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