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Aug 26 2016
by Hannah Zettl

How Graduating High School Early Changed My Life

By Hannah Zettl - Aug 26 2016
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Senioritis is a very real and serious phenomenon. So real, in fact, that Merriam-Webster recognizes it as a word defined as, “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences and lower grades.” The infection hit me very early in my high school career, and the only cure was graduation. By the time my junior year was over, so was my desire to come to school. I already had drudged through the infamously hardest year of high school, earned my final ACT score and narrowed down the colleges I wanted to apply to — so why did I have to go through a whole extra year that most refer to as the “blow off” lap? After the first day of my senior year, I came home and vented to my parents about how pointless the classes were and how I just could not waste more time in high school. Then it hit me, I didn’t have to: I could graduate early! My dad did it, and still to this day talks about how great of a choice it was. The next day I was sitting in my counselor’s office (Ms. Biggs, if you’re reading this, you rock) setting up my schedule so that my senior year would only have to be a senior semester. 

Luckily, for the first half of my day I was enrolled in the local technical institute that even allowed me to earn six college credits during the short few months I attended. Then, for the remainder of my day I just had to finish up the missing classes I needed to graduate by December. The semester flew by, and when everyone was leaving for winter break, I was leaving for good! I enjoyed a whole month off before beginning a full schedule at my community college. And a full schedule it was — I enrolled in five classes, totaling 16 credit hours. 

The workload was more demanding than what I was used to, but after getting acclimated to it I had no problem showing up every morning for my 8 A.M., and I even made it on the Dean’s List. Also, I was finally excited to come to class thanks to many of my professors who made the classes fun by allowing group discussions on topics that I cared about, a welcoming change from the painful high school sessions where nobody wanted to talk. I also grew to appreciate the fact that my classes were full of people of all ages and walks of life, much different than being in a room surrounded by people I had grown up with. While this was a big change for someone right out of high school, I am so glad I did it. After taking two more classes over the summer, I managed to enter my four-year university with 28 credits and at a sophomore standing. 

One warning I feel I need to put out there is if you are considering early graduation, make sure all of your community college credits transfer to wherever you decide to go later, or you would have wasted both your time and money. As long as everything checks out, go for it! If graduating early sounds appealing, but you aren’t quite ready to start at a college yet, there are other options. Many early graduates use the extra time off to work and save money for school, others may pursue a rewarding volunteer opportunity or internship. 

While I might have missed out on basketball games and prom, by taking classes at my community college I saved almost $25,000 and got the priceless experience of a smooth transition between high school and university. Plus, I also cured my nasty case of senioritis. 

Lead Image Credit: Baim Hanif via Unsplash


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Hannah Zettl - Illinois State University

Hannah is a sophomore studying Broadcast Journalism and Political Science at Illinois State University. She loves her dog, mochas and following the news and is probably the only person who still reps Juicy Couture. Follow her on social media @hannahzettl

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