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The Best Ways to Graduate High School Early

by Sara Ipatenco, studioD

High-achieving students might want to get a head start on college or a career by graduating from high school early. Other students graduate early because the course work is too easy and they need the challenges that college courses have to offer. Whatever the reason you're thinking about graduating early, there are ways to to do that so you can get on with achieving your college and career goals.

Speak with your guidance counselor. He'll be able to tell you if graduating early is an option for you, and which specific courses you need to take to accomplish that goal. Your guidance counselor will also help you create a schedule that allows you take each of these courses in a timely manner.

Take advanced classes. Most high schools offer advanced placement or honors classes, and many of them allow you to earn college credits while you're also earning your high school diploma.

Take extra classes. Most high schools give students a break for lunch and study hall. If you really want to graduate early, consider using these free times to take additional classes to meet your requirements.

Learn online. Enroll in an online high school to complete some of your graduation requirements. You can complete these classes in the afternoon and evenings once you're done with your regular school day. Many of the courses are available over the summer months, too. You might also be able to enroll in online college courses, too. Check the enrollment requirements for the colleges you're interested in to see if they offer courses to high school students.

Consider concurrent enrollment at a local community college. These classes are called concurrent or dual enrollment because they allow you take college-level courses that count toward your high school diploma at the same time you're also completing your high school requirements. Many of them are conveniently available online. These college courses are in addition to your regular high school classes, which means you're essentially taking more classes than you're required to at one time so you get done earlier.

Take the GED test or a similar equivalent from the state where you live. Because these tests are a stand-in for a regular high school diploma, a passing score might enable you to graduate early and enroll in college classes.

Go to summer school. If you skip summer break and take classes instead, you'll be ahead of your requirements and might be able to graduate early.


  • Check out scholarships offered to students who graduate from high school early. These might help offset the costs of enrolling in college.


  • Get your parents on board for graduating early before you starting doing all the work. In most states, parental consent is necessary to graduate from high school early.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

  • Jeffrey Hamilton/Photodisc/Getty Images