How to Graduate Early from High School in Pennsylvania

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Graduating early from high school seems like a thrill for some students; they desperately want to get out of there as soon as possible. For others, they want to relish this experience and take their time with it.

However, there is a misconception that early graduation from high school in Pennsylvania is difficult. All you need is to meet some graduation requirements. You do not need a 4.00 GPA and excellent references, and you do not need impressive extracurricular points to graduate early.

If you are looking to seize the opportunity and graduate early from Pennsylvania, then do not fret. This article tells you all you need to know about early graduation, including why you should consider it and the required steps to attaining your diploma.

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

The short answer is yes. However, that itself is not straightforward. There are several different requirements and milestones you have to achieve before graduating early from high school.

Before October 24th of 2018, graduation requirements for high schools in Pennsylvania were rigorous, requiring you to pass the Keystone Exams. These exams are given at the end of the course and cover Algebra I, Literature, and Biology.

However, Senate Bill 1095 expanded the options for students by changing the requirements of difficult examinations and milestones to allow students to prove their competence in alternative ways. Now, there are four additional pathways you will have to go through to demonstrate your readiness.

To prove your readiness for graduation in Pennsylvania, you have to illustrate your readiness for college, your future career, and the community you will soon be exposed to.

Can you graduate a year early from high school? You most certainly can. However, the rules have changed to better equip you for the fundamental change you are about to go through. That means you simply have to be more prepared for real-life after graduation and not only your academic excellence.

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate High School in Pennsylvania

How Many Credits Do You Need to Graduate High School in Pennsylvania?

We all know that high schools and universities require you to successfully complete a minimum amount of course credits to graduate. But can you graduate high school early if you have enough credits?

Again, the answer is yes. However, it is not as simple as that. There are specific courses required of you, a minimum number of credits you need to complete, and even that does not necessarily mean your high school does not set the bar even higher.

Some high schools in Pennsylvania raise the minimum credit requirement for graduation depending on the courses offered and how prepared they believe their students should be.

Pennsylvania requires every high school graduate to successfully complete a minimum of 21 credits. These include 4 credits from English, 3 from math, 3 in science, and 3 in social studies. However, state law also requires another 2 credits in arts and humanities, 1 in health, and another 5 credits in electives.

However, keep in mind that these credits might slightly vary according to the high school you attend. Some might require you to complete credits in a foreign language or obtain more credits from a specific course.

On the other hand, you should also be aware that there is a general minimum requirement of 21 units of credit, equivalent to 120 hours of instruction. These hours are usually completed along the years of 9th – 12th grade.

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

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

Let us break it into sections to fully understand what you need to graduate from a high school in Pennsylvania. These are the general requirements. If you successfully complete them one year before your supposed graduation, you are eligible to be an early high school graduate.

Here is how you can graduate a year early from high school:

Courses and Credits

  • Have a minimum of 21 credits. These include credits from English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies
  • State law requires you to earn 2 credits in Arts and Humanities, 1 in Physical Education, and 5 from electives such as Music, Business, or Computer Science
  • Some high schools will require more credits. These can be in Foreign Languages, more credits in Science for instance, or a combination of different courses

Keystone Exams

  • You will have to pass the Keystone Exams. As you may already know, they are state-assigned tests in Algebra I, Biology, and Literature
  • The exam is scored on a scale of 1-4. The minimum requirement for graduating is 3/4
  • If you fail once, you have the opportunity of sitting for the examination again. However, if you fail for the second time, you will have to seek alternative options such as Advanced Placement, IB exams, or assessments that meet the approval of officials in the district

LEA Requirements

  • LEA stands for Local Education Agency. Some of these agencies in specific school districts have a mandatory requirement for high school graduation to be applicable
  • These extra requirements are usually supplementary exams in different subjects such as Geometry, Chemistry, World History, and Algebra II

How to Graduate Early from High School?

How to Graduate Early from High School?

Now that you know the minimum requirements for early high school graduation in Pennsylvania let us talk about how you can actually graduate early. Think about what you need to do to take the necessary steps towards completing these credit hours and exams without too much hassle or stress.

This is how to graduate early from high school in Pennsylvania:

  1. Meet with your high school counselor and map out your journey towards your early graduation
  2. Set realistic expectations. It will be tough and challenging finishing all your courses one year before everyone else does
  3. Have the discussion and plan in hand at least 2 years before you want to graduate. Do not start setting your goals during your junior year, as that makes it infeasible.
  4. Check if you can enroll in online high school classes or take summer school to be ahead.
  5. Gain the support of your high school counselor as well as a guardian or parent
  6. Make a plan for what you are going to do after graduation.

You might also be wondering why someone would even want to graduate earlier than others. There are numerous benefits, and here are some benefits of graduating high school early:

  • Gap Year
    A lot of students, especially ones who want to travel around the world or figure out their passions in life, take a gap year to figure things out
  • Financial Situation
    Some students want to graduate early to start working and earning their own money, or they want to spare their parents to spend more money on a year of high school.
  • Gain Independence
    You gain independence and freedom once you graduate high school. However, early graduation requires maturity and awareness that most kids in high school do not own yet.
  • Stand Out
    Graduating early, finishing your exams on time, and being resilient shows colleges and workplaces how strong and hard-working you can be

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

All in all, you should be aware of the minimum credit requirement your current high school has for graduation. Talk to your parents or guardian, then reach out to your high school counselor. The key here is to ask for as much help as you can possibly get, as this is not going to be an easy decision to make.

A typical course load can be stressful enough for students, especially with their social lives and extracurriculars. That is why you should make sure you have enough maturity and readiness to embark on this path. Otherwise, do not choose early graduation if you do not have a plan for what comes after.

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:

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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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