The Teen Appeal

Giving truth to Memphis youth

Graduating early has its pros and cons

By Breyanah Graham (Ridgeway High School)

At the same time teens her age are wrapping up their junior year Breanna Owens will be celebrating her school graduation from Middle College High School.

By taking the required senior-year classes early, Advanced Placement coursework and completing extra courses online, Owens will be able to finish high school in just three years, instead of the traditional four. For Owens, making the initial decision to accelerate her time was based on her desire to save money and get ahead for the future.

“If I get out a year early, that’s a year extra of pay, and that’s a year earlier of retirement,” she said. Owens continued and said that completing a fourth year of high school will only hold her back rather than move her forward in life and that she rather spend her time working on her future than sitting in classes “bored to death.”

Since she is taking community college and AP courses that qualify both for high school and college credit, Owens will not only be able to graduate from high school early, but also get a jumpstart on college, as well. She believes that graduating early will help her strengthen her college application and increase her chances of getting into college by demonstrating her academic drive, dedication and emphasize that she can handle a sizeable workload. Graduating early will definitely be a huge focus of her application and hopefully allow her to be eligible for some additional scholarships.

  While graduating early from high school will have several benefits, Owens knows that it will not be easy and that there will be, of course, trade-offs. She will have a heavier course-load during her remaining time at high school to meet the demanding requirements and not have as much time as her classmates to learn the materials, eliminating any room for “senioritis.” Graduating a year early also means that she will miss her senior year- which some suggest is the best year in high school. She will miss out on the opportunity to “rule the school” and experience the perks of being a senior. She will be detached from senior activities such as senior prom, class prank, the senior trip, senior ditch day and miss the chance to enjoy her last year with her friends.

However Owens is not as much worried about missing out on senior year as she is glad that she will be leaving earlier.

“Of course I am sad that I’ll be leaving my friends a year early,” said. “I’ve known most of the people here since middle school, but we all have to say goodbye senior year anyway. And even though it won’t be the same, I can always have the senior high school memories with this class so it won’t feel like I’m leaving high school too early. You just have to focus on what you’re gaining instead of losing. It’s like I’m trading prom for scholarships.”

Like Owens, many teens are choosing to graduate from high school early across the country for many different reasons. Many colleges are seeing the occurrence of younger applicants applying for early enrollment. Some are concerned that early graduates miss out on important social elements of high school, but for students like Owens the potential benefits of walking across the high school graduation stage a year or a semester ahead of schedule, outweigh the early graduation opportunity cannot be missed.

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