Ready to Move on: Student, counselor discuss pros, cons of early graduation

Rachel Lock, Web Editor

Senior year.
We’ve all thought about it at one time or another. Saying goodbye to high school, going off to college. Senior picnic, senior prom. Being the oldest at the school.
And finally, graduation.
This is the normal route students at Blue Valley take, but this semester, a few students will be leaving early, including senior Jenny Burge.
Burge said she wants to graduate early so she can start college.
“I want to go for cosmetology,” she said. “I’m looking at a few schools, but I’m not set on one yet.”
Counselor Sandy Fryer said graduating early is just a matter of getting all your requirements in by completing seven credits each year until your senior year as well as taking virtual or summer courses.
“If a student has the mindset that they want to leave early or they’ve taken all they want to do here, and they are ready to move on, then they can do that,” she said. “They do have to have a meeting with us, and parents have to be involved. We have to document what their plans are.”
While this seems simple, Fryer said there are a few details that need to be worked out in the student’s schedule.
“One thing we have to work through is how to get a full year of English in one semester,” she said. “But we do have three different senior English classes, so typically they take two [for one semester]. It’s just planning ahead and making sure you have all your requirements met and your overall credits met.”
Burge said she is concurrently enrolled in two English Language Arts classes and took two summer classes.
“I didn’t have enough credits to just graduate by a semester, so I had to do two summer classes, and that was kind of difficult to be around friends and everything,” Burge said. “Some classes you have to do the five-month course but in two months, so it is just a lot of extra work.”
Another problem Burge said she had with this process is her schedule.
“I have to take a full schedule, and, if I wasn’t graduating early, I could have done two shortened schedules,” she said. “Since I was home-schooled before [this year], I’m not used to coming for seven hours, so I’m exhausted. But it’s not too bad.”
Burge said there are definitely benefits of graduating early.
“The best [aspect] is that there are so many things I don’t have to do because I’m graduating early,” Burge said. “Like in my full English classes, I don’t have to do the second semester stuff, so I get to miss out on all of that, which is really nice.”
Fryer said she doesn’t recommend graduating early unless there are special circumstances.
“In general, I would encourage students to stay for their entire senior year just because they might have regrets if they don’t,” she said. “And there are a lot of fun activities — meaningful activities — but [students] are always welcome back even if they graduate in December. They are always welcome to come back and go to Prom [and attend] the senior picnic. They can always come back to do those things.”
Burge said she will be starting college this January or February.
“The fact that I could start college early [motivated me] because [cosmetology] is really what l have a passion for,” she said.
Fryer said there are sometimes special circumstances that require students to graduate early.
“For some, it is a good plan because they are ready to move on — maybe their family is moving,” she said. “I’ve had that happen, and so they want to be able to move with their family and then wrap up here. Sometimes they are ready to go on to college, so it’s a good option for some.”
Fryer also said though students might not know they want to do this as a freshmen, four-year planning can help a student see where they can fit all their credits.
“You would have to make sure you have gotten all your requirements in — any electives, classes that might get you closer to a career — you just have to plan ahead,” she said. “I would recommend you see your counselor as soon as you have this thought [to graduate early] to map it out.”
Burge said she decided to graduate early at the end of last year.
“I know of some people who graduated early, and I already knew what I wanted to do for college,” she said. “I always hang out with older people, so they are all graduated. So, I feel like I’m behind almost.”
Fryer said this process works very well if the student is motivated.
However, she said she still has her doubts about how this might affect the student.
“Well, you shortcut a little bit on that fourth math or maybe that extra science, so you would want to be sure you are not just rushing through everything because then you are not going to be ready for college,” Fryer said. “But, at the same time, if your heart isn’t in being here to take more electives and you are ready to move on to college, then you are going to be more motivated. So, it’s a case-by-case [situation] — our fear is that someone is just rushing through, doesn’t like high school, isn’t engaging and then it would affect your [college] readiness.”
Burge said she feels very ready for college and is only worried about her preparation for her career.
“My cosmetology school is not even for a year, depending on how fast I go through it,” she said. “I’m going to be really young, and I’ll be ready to go to my career field at 18. I’ll just be pretty young when starting everything, but I’m kind of an old soul.”
Burge said her family, friends and teachers were very impressed by her decision and fully support her.
Fryer said she believes having this option at BV is beneficial to the students.
“I think one of the nice things about Blue Valley is that there always is options,” she said. “We try to be flexible and consider each student and what is best for them. We don’t have this cookie-cutter formula that everybody has to do. The benefit is that we are listening to you. We are trying to help you be successful here — whatever that might take.”