Getting a headstart

SHS is seeing an increase in students wishing to graduate early


Photo by Grace Elder

Junior La’Quera Williams had to make the choice between staying with her friends or pursuing her education. She made the decision to graduate early and will continue her education by taking classes at Indiana University. Though she has seen the benefits, it hasn’t all turned out how she would have imagined it.

“This year just made me realize that I’m gonna miss all my friends,” Williams said. 

Junior Aga Zaragoza is also graduating early alongside Williams. They both decided to graduate early because they plan to work in the medical field as surgeons. 

There has been an increase in juniors graduating this year than in previous years. Williams and Zaragoza are just two out of many. 

While both Zaragoza and Williams are graduating early, they have differing opinions on whether other students should do so also.  

Williams thinks that there are both pros and cons for graduating early. She said that one of the main benefits is that students are able to get an early start at life. One of the disadvantages of graduating early is for student athletes missing out on sports and other senior activities. Williams says if she had the chance to redecide, she would not choose to graduate early.

However, in contrast, if Zaragoza had the opportunity, she says she would have recommended that other juniors also graduate early. She believes that the option of graduating early isn’t promoted enough at SHS and thinks that many students would benefit from it. She believes that the counselors should offer it as an option more to students who are struggling with school. 

“I know there are a lot more people who would like to do it, but they don’t know the steps to take or what to do,” Zaragoza said. 

To be able to graduate early, students have to meet with their counselor first. They must have at least 40 credits to graduate, and to complete these credits, students can take Plato classes or take senior classes during their junior year. 

Each grade currently has a different set of graduation requirements that they have to meet. This can cause issues if a student wants to graduate early. 

“It is getting a lot more difficult to complete everything that you need to graduate early,” counselor Tricia Bender said. 

She says that students that want to graduate early should decide in either their 8th grade or freshman year to be able to meet the graduation requirements. However, Zaragoza doesn’t think that would work very well. 

“I feel like freshman year, deciding that you want to graduate early is unrealistic because it is your freshman year,” Zaragoza said. “I’ve changed so much since my freshman year, and I know that I am not thinking the same way I was my freshman year.” 

Though the cause for more students choosing to graduate early isn’t clear, Bender thinks it is likely because of the pandemic.

“They haven’t been here for two years and they are just done (with school),” Bender said. “I think the pandemic definitely has made an impact on a lot of students emotionally and mentally.”

For students who choose to graduate early, there are resources to help.

The Mitch Daniels Early Graduation Scholarship is open to students to apply for if they have graduated at least one year early. It is a one-time $4,000 scholarship. Students can apply from July and through August. This scholarship can be used for tuition and remaining funds go to the student. 

Bender thinks that this scholarship is a benefit to graduating early and that not enough students know about it. 

“A lot of students don’t realize it until they have already made that decision to graduate a year early,” Bender said.