There are some high school students who genuinely don’t want to leave, because they are having the best time of their lives. But this is certainly not the case for everyone. And for these students, there are ways to learn how to get your high school diploma early and (relatively) easily.
Graduating early is a worthwhile goal, and one that many students share. There are several ways to do so, some of which are intended to be early-exit plans, and others which can be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, many states require that students have their parents’ permission to leave school before the dropout age, even if they have completed all the graduation requirements. This age varies by state from 16 to 18.
There are programs available both through the public system and private schools. California also has a state test that allows pupils who are age 16 or older to stop attending with their parents’ permission if they pass (the normal dropout age in this state is 18). This is an equivalency exam like the GED, though it can be taken at a younger age.
The requirements for graduation from public schools vary by the state and by the district, but often there are many more classes taken in a typical student’s four years than are required for graduation. One way to leave ahead of time is to delete any optional courses from your study plan, not take any ‘free’ or optional study periods, and finish all graduation requirements faster than normal. This option usually only decreases graduation time by a maximum of a year, though.
Taking advantage of non-traditional methods of learning are how most students graduate early. Public schools usually have an independent study program that they can refer students with problems to, but which are hard to get assigned to without some kind of documented issue. But some schools, especially charter schools, have programs that allow even those students without problems to do independent study for part or all of their classes. These are often referred to as homeschooling programs.
Some public schools have agreements with local community colleges where upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) can take community college courses along with a reduced load of normal classes. This does not actually speed up graduation, but instead puts students ahead when they do graduate, as their college courses are ‘double-counted’ towards both high school and college.
Students whose local colleges do not offer their programs can often still take advantage of their offerings. With parental and principal permission, many students take courses at the local community college and use them to fulfill graduation requirements. But high schools each have their own regulations about what types of courses may be transferred, and how many, so check ahead of time.
If you do not need to use the public system to graduate, the situation is somewhat easier. Online accredited high schools offer courses that are paced at your rate – if you can complete them faster than expected, you can graduate early. Some of these schools allow the use of more community college credits than public schools, as well.
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