How to Graduate Early from High School in Illinois

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Most students fantasize about graduating early from high school. Whether it is because they want to travel the world, they want to pursue a job opportunity, or they want to slouch around doing nothing for at least a semester.

Students do not realize that graduating early from high school in Illinois is much easier than they think. You simply have to meet basic requirements and be ahead of students in your class. While that might seem a little complicated and stressful, it turns out it is much more straightforward than that.

The key to successfully graduating early from high school is to ask yourself why you want to graduate early and set a solid plan to work towards that goal. Read through the article to find out how to graduate early from high school in Illinois; we will tell you everything you need to know.

Can You Graduate High School Early in Illinois?Can You Graduate High School Early in Illinois?

The greatest thing about graduating early from high school in Illinois is that there are no minimum requirements for graduation. However, the state does instill a specific number of courses you need to take. These courses are also specific; you cannot choose whichever classes you want.

That means there is a minimum for the type and number of courses you need to take to graduate. While it is nearly impossible to complete all of them in one year, that actually means you can graduate high school after finishing 9th or 10th grade.

How Many Credit Hours Do You Need to Graduate High School in Illinois?

How Many Credit Hours Do You Need to Graduate High School in Illinois?

Here’s the thing: the state of Illinois sets the fundamental minimum requirement to be 16.75 credits. It does not seem too extreme, does it? Think about it; you will only need to complete 16.75 credits throughout 4 years of high school. You probably are wondering where that 0.75 comes from, and we’re about to tell you.

However, even though the minimum requirement to graduate from Illinois requires 16.75 credits, different districts can choose to add additional credit or course requirements. But that rarely happens, and even if it does, the extra credits are not as extreme as you might think.

You can find the Illinois School Code in the 5th Act of Chapter 105 of the Illinois Complicated Statutes. However, to make things simpler here is a breakdown of the required courses and the duration needed for each one:

  • 4 years of English Language Arts.
  • 3 years of Mathematics: 1 year must be Algebra I, and another one must include geometry content. Moreover, one year of Mathematics could be replaced with an advanced placement computer science course.
  • 2 years of Social Studies 1 year must be in American History or a combination of American History and government. Moreover, another year should be on civics.
  • 2 years of Science.
  • 2 years of Writing Intensive Courses: one year should be spent in an English intensive writing course. Another year could be in another subject.
  • 4 years of P.E.: the law requires students in high school to take daily P.E. classes.
  • 1 year of Arts can include music, art, foreign language, or vocational education.

So that is how many credits to graduate high school in Illinois; 16.75 credits. Illinois is one of the states that has a pretty low credit requirement for graduation. It really is much easier than you might think.

As mentioned above, P.E. is required by every single student throughout the 4 years of high school. However, you can be excused from that if you belong to an athletic team or a marching band. You need to take a class from the college you want to enroll in (or a course you need to graduate).

However, as of 2028, students will also have to complete 2 years of a foreign language. Don’t be discouraged about this; you can even take American Sign Language as a foreign language.

On the other hand, regulations buried deep within the law of Illinois states that students must also complete a semester in health education and another half-semester in consumer education. That is where the remaining 0.75 credit comes from.

You do not necessarily have to take separate courses to complete this requirement. If they are somehow integrated within other classes, then you still only need 16 credits to graduate. If not, you still need to complete them as separate courses and earn a total of 16.75 credits.

What are the Requirements to Graduate from High School in Illinois?

What are the Requirements to Graduate from High School in Illinois?

There aren’t many requirements needed to graduate early from high school in Illinois. Illinois high school requirements state that the most important thing is to successfully complete and pass all the courses mentioned above, which sum up to 16.75 credits.

However, there are extra high school graduation requirements by state, which are:

  • Total 16.75 credits completed (0.75 do not have to be met if health education and consumer education are integrated within other courses).
  • The law also states that “every public-school teacher shall teach character education.” However, there are no specifications or set requirements found.
  • A state examination does not exist as a part of high school graduation requirements by state. However, you do need to sit for a test on “American patriotism, the principles of representative government, and the proper use and display of the American flag.”
  • Despite not having to sit for a state examination, students are required to sit for a statewide assessment as of the school year 2016-2017. This is known as the SAT examination with the essay.
  • For students with significant cognitive abilities, they can sit for the DLM-AA examination.

How to Graduate Early from High School?

How to Graduate Early from High School?

If you want to graduate early from high school in Illinois, what you need to do is pretty straightforward.

Set a Plan 

Talk to your parents and your counselor about your intentions and reasons behind why you want to graduate early. Also, the sooner you set a plan, the better things are for you. The best thing you can do if you’re going to graduate early is to develop a plan before you even get into 9th grade.

Identify the Courses and Credits

Make sure you know all the courses you need to complete to graduate. If it seems overwhelming, ask your advisor or counselor about it. Being aware of all the classes you need to take makes it easier to wiggle some room in and take courses earlier than others.

Moreover, check online resources and online public education providers to find out if you can take online courses or finish some credits in another way. You might find dual credit opportunities or even advanced placement courses that can set you ahead of everyone.

Be Prepared

Whether you plan on getting into college immediately after or finding work, you need to prepare your transcripts and any recommendation letters you can get. Ask your school to provide you with 5 transcript copies, and ask your closest teachers for recommendation letters.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Graduate Early from High School in Illinois

That’s all there is to know about how to graduate early from high school in Illinois. To recap, you need 12 total years in specific subjects, which sum up to a total of 16 credits. Moreover, you need to sit for the SAT examination and another test on American patriotism.

The key to success here is to reach out for help; ask your seniors, your counselor, and your parents for help. Trust us; you do not need to rush things on your own. And if you aren’t sure about your plans, don’t feel pressured into graduating early. You still have your years ahead of you.

If you’re thinking about graduating early from high school, make sure to check our guides on the benefits of graduating early from high school as well as some of the disadvantages of it.

If you are interested to know how to graduate early in other states, check out our other guides here:

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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