Can homeschoolers graduate early? Yes! As long as [any] statewide attendance laws are met, students may complete at any time.
Are there advantages to early graduation? Any drawbacks?
Let’s go over the particulars.
How Early is Early?
So, what’s considered early anyway? Since teens traditionally graduate around 17-19, graduating younger age is considered early. A completer at 15 or 16 is an early graduate. Completing at 13 or 14 is even earlier. You get the idea.
How Is It Done?
There are lots of ways. I’ll list just a few.
One way, is by taking more credits per year. Instead of the usual 6 or 7 courses per semester/year, early completers can take 8, 9 or more. As credits add up, the completion date moves closer and closer.
Schooling year-round is another way. No vacations or time off means students move swiftly from one high school “grade” to another. Earlier progression means earlier graduation.
Homeschooling at an accelerated pace is possible, too. Many students are capable of completing larger amounts in shorter periods of time. Motivated, efficient learners reach the finish line more quickly.
A final way is about taking a “mastery” approach to awarding credit, which can result in students stock-piling credits more quickly. Mastery is demonstrated when students either test out of courses (think CLEP and things like that) or can produce legitimate evidence or large scale projects which demonstrate an activity is worth a credit (without the student taking an actual class). Think of this as the “independent study” you remember from when you were in school.
Note: Early graduation is never about short-changing students academically. It’s about achieving the same competency, just in a shorter time.
Any ADVANTAGES to Early Graduation?
The most obvious advantage is early college. Early college admission leads to early college graduation, which lead straight to grad school or a job plus earnings. Using dual enrollment options or CLEP credit, early high school graduation is easily possible most everywhere.
Perhaps a more practical advantage to early graduation is saving money on courses and curriculum. While it’s impossible to put a price on education (nor should education ever be withheld), it’s hard not to notice the savings by ending homeschool early. Families using expensive delivery systems or pricey online programs sometimes view early graduation as a way of not having to spend on curriculum any more. Even cutting off high school by a few months can quickly multiply after several children. Freeing up parents to go back to work adds even more incentive.
Opportunities increase for completers the day after graduation, too. Travel , internships, adult courses, volunteering, jobs, military and many other options open immediately to high school graduates.
Early graduation benefits students mature enough to get up and go. Students — those with realistic plans and a skill set to match – have little reason to continue an educational program that has nothing to offer beyond what they already have.
A final advantage is liberating students from the drudgery of curriculum and busywork. In households where students are just marking time until graduation, early graduation provides a way out of using school work just to fill time.
What are the DISADVANTAGES?
Not everyone feels the same way about early high school graduation. Parents may think, “She’s too young to live on her own,” and “He’s not ready to go to college yet anyway?” which are very valid points.
This is the part where families need to make their own decisions.
Though some students genuinely benefit from early graduation, others do not, such as those with nowhere else to go until they’re older. We’ve all heard stories of the students competent enough to graduate high school but too young to attend college alone. Though some kids are ready academically, are they ready enough to move on to the next thing?
Weighing the ramifications of moving a less emotionally and socially mature youngster into an environment where he or she may not feel comfortable is important to think about. Exposing younger students to the more explicit contexts and culture of college and adult situations can be worrisome — even downright dangerous.
Most importantly, perhaps, are the lost opportunities caused by graduating early. Depending on the area, this could include ineligibility for high school sports and other extracurricular activities, ineligibility for dual enrollment situations, lost opportunities to participate in certain AP courses or driver’s education programs, disqualification for scholarship programs, and more. When high school status is required, graduating teens early can shortchange them big-time, since they forfeit valuable opportunities for which they’re no longer eligible.
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Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. The founder of many homeschool groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, or with no educational background whatsoever. A liaison for regional school-to-home organizations and a homeschool leader in Florida, Marie-Claire also mentors homeschool families nationwide. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., HECOA, FLHES, and many other events. She currently writes for audiences at Quick Start Homeschool, and as a guest on other sites as often as she can. Her articles have appeared in CONNECT, on Homefires, at Circle of Moms and she has contributed to hundreds of other blogs nationwide. Dr. Moreau can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.