The Ultimate Guide to Graduating Early from High School

Wanting to graduate early from high school entails that you’re a high-achieving student. That’s because it’s not a simple process. It is lengthy and time-consuming, but it can be challenging according to the state’s graduation requirements you’re living in.

However, an athlete in high school would want o graduate early to get a college scholarship. In contrast, others want to get out of there to pursue their dream career. That’s the thing about early graduation; you must have a plan you want to follow. You cannot simply decide to sit around and do nothing.

Hence, we devised the ultimate guide to graduating high school early. In this article, you’ll learn about early graduation from high school. That includes the advantages, disadvantages, what it means, the requirements according to state, and tips for pursuing early graduation.

Why Would Someone Want to Graduate Early?

As a high school student, you usually do not have excessive pressure from your parents or peers to graduate and excel in life. However, some students feel the external pressure to stand out amongst their peers, especially if they’re naturally gifted. This can be academically, athletically, or someone who is simply skilled at life.

Hence, some students plan it out in their minds and decide on early graduation from high school simply because they have devised a plan for the future. Unfortunately, merely wishing it won’t do the trick – you need to work constantly and rigorously to achieve this goal.

Generally, there are numerous reasons why someone would want to graduate early and start their life. Below are 5 reasons and benefits of graduating high school early.

Early Start in College

While your age doesn’t determine your performance in college, numerous students aim to leave high school as soon as they can to get a headstart at college. That could either be because of several reasons:

  • You’re already older than your peers in your school and want to get on track, age-wise.
  • You plan on pursuing a career through medical school or aim for a PhD.
  • You don’t generally like the atmosphere of your high school, so you want to get out of there.
  • You got an offer from a college or a scholarship opportunity that requires you to graduate early.

Early Start in Career

You might be eager to start working and supporting yourself early. If that’s the case, just like some students, you can choose to graduate a tad bit earlier than everyone else and get a headstart. The thing about work, in general, is that numerous skills do not require a college degree.

For instance, plumbing, construction workers, and even coding are argued to not need a college degree. We mean that you need to acquire the necessary skills to qualify you for the job. This is often done through apprentices or internships where you learn the skills on the job.

Moreover, you could decide to pursue an internship instead of diving into a career first. Some internships last up to a year, and more often than not, you would start getting paid the longer you spend time there. Hence, this option is ideal for students who want to gain experience in a specific field.


This is the most compelling reason we all dream about sometimes. Have you never wanted to run away and simply experience life in a different country? Well, you aren’t the only one. High school students often pursue a gap year.

Gap years were not often a common concept back in the day. However, in 2020, the numbers skyrocketed to 6.1% of students taking a gap year after high school. That might be mainly due to the coronavirus, but it’s becoming increasingly popular.

There are also numerous gap year programs that you can pursue, including working, studying, and volunteering. Hence, you have multiple options to choose from.

Personal Reasons

Everyone struggles with some personal reasons every now and then. However, sometimes you would want to get out of high school as soon as possible to start your life correctly or deal with preexisting issues.

Some examples include:

  • Getting pregnant
  • Wanting to get married
  • Starting a family
  • Dealing with family issues
  • Working on your mental health
  • Dealing with an illness
  • Wanting to be independent and free from family restraints


There doesn’t have to be a set reason that’s complicated for you to graduate early. Some students simply want to feel the accomplishment of working hard and finishing before everyone else. That also makes you stand out when applying for internships, jobs, and college applications.

Hence, while you need a long-term plan if you want to finish early, sometimes you simply want to feel good about yourself. Moreover, if you’re brilliant and want to be ahead of others, this could be your path.

What are the Benefits of Graduating Early?

What are the Benefits of Graduating Early?

There are numerous benefits of graduating early from high school. Some students want to save tuition money and use it for college. Others aim to gain experience through work or internships, prepare for their grad courses, earn a scholarship, or stand out in front of college recruiters. Read more about the benefits of graduating early in our extensive article here.

What are the Disadvantages of Graduating Early?

What are the Disadvantages of Graduating Early?

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows; aiming to graduate earlier than others during high school will be a hassle. You will have to work twice as hard as everyone else and possibly miss out on some fun time with your friends. Moreover, as soon as you graduate, you’ll have to find a way to move through life, and your adulthood will slowly creep in. Hence, take the decision with thorough reflection and talk to your counselor. You can also read through our complete guide to the disadvantages of graduating early.

5 Tips to Graduating High School Early

5 Tips to Graduating High School Early

If you’re looking for an answer to how to graduate early from high school, we will guide you through the initial process. In a gist, you need an elaborate plan to successfully follow through the process and be able to do it on your own. Moreover, in some states, the graduation requirements are so detailed and challenging that you need to have a set plan as early as middle school.

However, no matter where you are, it’s possible to do it. However, if you’re in your 11th year and now deciding to devise a plan, you’re probably too late in the game. Hence, we advise you to talk to your counselor as early as possible.

As difficult as the process might sound right now. You must take a few necessary steps and some tips and tricks we would recommend you do. Below are 5 tips on how do you graduate early in high school:

Set a Plan

Talk to your counselor about your plan, and have a flexible one in motion. Decide on the following:

  • Why do you want to graduate early?
  • How do you plan on finishing the credits?
  • What are the graduation requirements?
  • When do you want to graduate? A semester, a year, or two years early?
  • Are you mentally prepared to miss out on some activities with your friends?

These are fundamental questions to answer. They’ll allow you to further understand why you want to graduate early, what to do, and how to pursue this route. The best way to start your plan is to talk to your high school counselor, as that person will be equipped with all the information you’ll need.

Moreover, you need all the support you can get from your parents, friends, and school. That’s because this process is not straightforward, and you’re most likely going to stress about some aspects of it. Hence, get support and guidance when necessary.

Calculate Needed Credits

This will vary according to which high school you’re going to. However, you should calculate the credits completed and how many are left for you to finish. That’ll help you plan out how to take the courses and during what time.

For instance, some schools might offer summer school to allow you to complete some credits. Moreover, others will enable you to take other courses outside of your high school. Those would enable you to gain extra credits that would possibly be added to your transcript.

Figure out how many credits you need to graduateThen, find out how many credits you have already completedThen, to find out how many credits are left, simply subtract the total required from the credits you’ve completed.

Find Out Which Classes Are Mandatory

Usually, high schools have a set number of years you have to complete in specific subjects. Hence, it’s always ideal for planning ahead of time, sometime around middle school, if you want to graduate early. It usually goes something like this (as a general guideline):

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of Science
  • 3 years of Mathematics
  • 2-3 years of Social Science and/or History

Sometimes, the requirements generally state the number of years or semesters you need to complete. However, sometimes they’re more specific as they detail which subjects you need to take, such as specifying the course, for example, geometry, grammar, physics, …etc.

Instead of going through 4 full years of English, you can find a loophole. Now, that entirely depends on your school, so contact someone in authority.


This is such an important step, as you need to make sure you’re following through with this for the right reasons. For instance, you’re doing the wrong thing if you’re pursuing early graduation simply because you want to show off. That’s the wrong motivation.

Moreover, showing off or being cocky will get you nowhere, especially if you’re feeling blank once you do it. You would have missed out on opportunities and memories in high school, and you still would not have a solid plan for what to do next.

Decide on Next Steps

Whether you want to apply to different colleges, work, travel, or take care of yourself or a loved one, figure out the best way to tackle the issue. Hence, after you plan out how you’ll finish your school credits, figure out the next steps you will take once you do graduate. The sooner you act, the better it is.

Should You Graduate High School Early?

Should You Graduate High School Early?

There are no set rules as to whether you should graduate early or not. However, you should be confident in your choice, and you should be doing it for the right reasons. Hence, if you’re not 100% sure of your decision, you should never follow through. That’s because a decision like this could end up causing a disastrous scene if not planned outright.

However, you should be aware of some advantages and disadvantages of finishing off early. The below-compiled list will help you decide on the best route for you.

Here is a list of graduating early from high school pros and cons:


  • You’ll have an earlier start on life (college, work, internships, …etc.)
  • It’s an impressive accomplishment and will help you in your applications.
  • A chance to take a gap year and explore yourself and the world.
  • You can choose to take time off and evaluate what you want to do next.
  • You can potentially get an early graduation scholarship.


  • If you head off to college before 18, you might feel left out – it’s also argued that young students are not mature enough for college.
  • You will possibly miss out on memories and fun times with your friends in high school.
  • The stress might not be worth it for you.
  • You will have to plan beforehand, and nothing can go wrong with your plan.
  • You’re at a higher risk of facing academic burnout.

Learn everything you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of graduating high school early here.

How to Graduate Early from High School: Organized by State

How to Graduate Early from High School: Organized by State

As we have already established, the very first step you need to follow through to graduate early is to plan your upcoming years. Now, you should go around it to check your state requirements. Those include assessments, examinations, and the minimum credit load you need to fulfill to graduate.

Hence, you’re expected to successfully complete all state-required assessments beforehand. Keep in mind that some states are more flexible about their required credit load. In contrast, it’s near impossible to graduate early in others. You can read all about the different state requirements in our previous articles. Check them out below:

Wrapping Things Up: Key Takeaway from Graduating High School Early

In a gist, early graduation is possible if you bust yourself and put effort and energy into it. Otherwise, if you do not have a structured plan, you’re more inclined to finish high school in the average amount of time. Remember that the guidelines and minimum requirements will vary according to your living state. Hence, your safest choice is to always contact your advisor and set a reasonable plan with them.

Share this page: