Occasionally I get requests for a student to graduate early. They request it for many different reasons, such as, “She just feels ready.” “He might drop out if I make him wait.” “He’s changed his mind and does not want to go to college.” “He’s working with the family business.” “She wants to train for a vocational career.” “His SAT scores are strong, and he’s ready for college now.” etc. If students have a solid high school education thus far and feel they need to graduate a year or two early (I’m speaking to the 16-21 year old), then they can decide to graduate early if their parents support this. Remember, the law says that at 16 they can drop out of school legally, but they are entitled to a free and appropriate public education until the age of 21. So there is a lot of wiggle room in this decision.
If a student has the core high school credits accomplished, and the rest of the course work, though inspiring and important is not what they want to learn, then the student can launch themselves into the real world. But, they better be careful what they ask for – meaning, time to pay the bills! As a parent, I required my children to be in college full-time, work full-time or be doing a combination of the two if they continued to live at home after finishing high school. Working and going to trade school or college is doable and good exercise in discipline, but it takes a lot of work.
The student wanting to graduate early should make a short term (1 year or so) plan, and long term (3-5 year ) plan and build a resume. They should be ready for a job interview or begin plans to start their own business. They should have closure for this “graduation” time and celebrate and reward themselves. There is nothing wrong with “abandoning” that last year or so of high school or getting at GED, and your student is every much a graduate as someone who attended a “class” for 12 years. The student’s job is to understand that what comes next requires them to walk on with maturity and take on responsibility for their own path.
I dropped out of high school at 15, got a GED a year later, then even re-entered a private high school a year after that as a senior and obtained a diploma with a 4.0. I loved learning but due to our poorly run government schools my experience was horrible and graduating early (with a GED) was right for me. But because I chose education as a career, I continued serious studies later.
I want students to feel they can do anything they want. The world is made for them, not them for the world. If they want to cast off the 12 year track a little early – I’ll support them if they have the right attitude. Students can be successful graduating early as long as it is a sober decision made with a strategy in mind.
FOLLOWING IS A RESPONSE FROM “ANNE’S” PARENTS AFTER READING THIS ARTICLE. “ANNE” IS A FAMILY TREE PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENT WHO GRADUATED EARLY. 5/25/2014__________________
Wow – was that a great read! ….. I have so much to tell you about Anne (the student). This young lady came in from work yesterday and she is starting Shift Manager training! If you remember I had told you she was going to be “crew trainer” well, she was and didn’t even know it! Head quarters is over riding the age requirement for her and they can do that based on her level of performance! She starts classes for Shift Manager on Monday!
She is so excited and see’s her job as a career. She filled out the paperwork for crew trainer and head quarters was there on site to tell her she will start training immediately for Shift Manager! They issued her a new code for testing on the computer AND if that was not enough to blow her socks off she is getting a raise! They also told her that HER work performance shines above many of the others her age. Your blog post and thoughts are so correct. She has learned so much at her job and has proven to be an asset to one of the largest companies in the world. I am so proud to say she has been a student with FTPS all the way! What a difference it’s made in her life. Social skills? She’s had and has plenty ~ with and for all the good reasons! The Lord and His precious light walks in her. I love FTPS (Family Tree Private School)! I love the Lord! I’m so excited for OUR little girl and all the wonderful things the Lord has for her! Amen! Thank you! I just love you good sister! God bless YOU! XOXOX