Early graduation opportunities knock

Sarah Fifield, Managing Editor

As the last bubble is shaded in on the Scantron sheet, the clock ticks on, signaling the approaching end of the last final the seniors will take during their high school career. As soon as the final bell rings, students will flood the halls in anticipation to get in their cars and not look back for two months of summer vacation.

Yet, for junior Morgan Nolte, leaving the halls of Blue Valley Southwest High School next year on May 17 holds more meaning. As of the final bell that afternoon, it will all become real. She will no longer be a high school student.

“When I was younger,” Nolte said. “I took an extra year of pre-school. I’ve always been older than my grade, so I thought I might as well catch up.”

Since freshman year, Nolte has had a plan formulated to graduate high school in only three years, making her part of the class of 2012. Although Nolte is considered to be a junior this school year, she has been enrolled in many senior classes to fulfill her 24-credit requirement.

“Mentally and maturity wise, I am supposed to be a senior,” Nolte said. “I just wanted to get on track with where I was supposed to be and I could tell that, as I was getting older, I was more ready for it.”

In order to meet all of the credit requirements, Nolte has taken extra classes outside of school to catch up. Unlike most who graduate early, Nolte is getting ahead a year rather than only a semester, meaning she has less available credit opportunities during school hours.

“The trickiest part [about graduating early] is getting your english credits done,” guidance counselor Kevin Halfmann said. “You have to double up.”

Although the process is stressful, Nolte is making the best of her situation.

“The senior class has been really accepting of me coming in and messing everything up,” Nolte said. “I’ve been able to do a lot of the fun senior stuff and I take advantage of what I am given. I don’t ask for too much.”

Since graduating early leaves students a semester or an entire year shy of the four-year high school experience, feeling as though one is part of their class can be difficult.

“It’s hard to keep the feeling of ‘Hey, I’m a member of the class of 2012 or 2014,’ or whatever it is,” Halfmann said. “Because you’re not with your classmates and you miss some of that feeling. It’s a pretty cool feeling to have.”

Early graduation also takes away vital time which students use in order to prepare themselves for college and the future. More selective colleges may reject a student who chose to graduate early, feeling as though the student will be lacking complete and potential preparation as well as the completion of more rigorous classes.

“You will never impress a college because you graduated a semester early. Most colleges don’t look down their noses at you, either, and say ‘Well, there is something wrong with you because you graduated early’,” Halfmann said.

Graduating early is an option not many students choose to take, yet, if students do pursue the fast-track, Nolte is all for it.

“I think if they think they are ready, I am all for it. I would be there rooting for then the whole way,” Nolte said. “But I think it’s a personal thing. You have to be your motivation and be that person that’s going to be like ‘I’m going to do this.’ It’s not anyone else’s work that I have to do, it’s my own. It’s my thing, it’s my choice.”

With only a semester left to take in the high school experience, Nolte plans on staying dedicated.

“It’s a lot of work and a lot of time and it’s stressful, but it’s going to be worth it,” Nolte said. “You know, that’s pretty much it. It’s going to be worth it.”