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Articles / Applying to College / Is Early Graduation Mandatory Here?

Aug. 18, 2004

Is Early Graduation Mandatory Here?

Question: I wanted my daughter to graduate a year early. She is in 11th grade but the guidance counselor has put her in senior homeroom. I have since changed my plans, and now I want my daughter to finish four years of high school. However, the guidance counselor says that, because my daughter has already completed the required four English and four math classes, she must be in a senior homeroom and graduate this year (after just three years of high school). Is this true?

We don't know where you live and where you daughter attends school, but--even if we did--we could only speculate on the regulations that govern high school enrollment there. However, with that disclaimer in place, we can tell you that it sounds as if the guidance counselor may be annoyed by your change in plans and/or inconvenienced by the need to switch your daughter's homeroom placement and schedule. It seems as if a student should be entitled to spend four years in high school, if she so chooses.


On the other hand, perhaps your daughter has exhausted the curriculum available to her. If she already has four years of math and English on her transcript (unusual for a rising junior), are there still challenging courses available to her--either in those areas or in others?

Does your school district offer a "Dual Enrollment" option? (That's when students are still officially matriculated in high school--and can participate in school clubs, sports, etc., if they so choose--but take some--or even all--of their classes at a local college.) If so, that may be a good bet for your daughter. If no Dual Enrollment program is formally in place, perhaps you can work with school officials to make that option available to her nonetheless.

In other words, there are really two issues here:

The first is your daughter's right to stay in high school for a fourth year. The second is whether or not it's academically worthwhile for her to do so. It's hard to make a judgment on either of these without knowing a lot more about her and her situation, but it does seem that it's time for you to take a close look at the academic program you have mapped out for her for the next two years and then to consult either the school principal or superintendent right away to be sure you have a plan in place that will best meet your needs.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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