Graduating Early from High School [Your Complete Resource!]

Some students are interested in graduating early from high school because they excel at school and they’re really good at it and they want to move ahead with their education more quickly. This can lead to a year or two head start on college or university, which can be really nice for anyone who plans on going for an advanced degree.

On the other hand, there are also plenty of students who just don’t really click in the high school environment, and can’t wait to finish high school as soon as possible, even if they don’t have huge academic goals down the road.

If you hate school, it stands to reason that you might prefer to work extra hard for a few years if it means spending 1 or 2 less years of your life in high school, by graduating early to get it over with.

Whatever your reason is for wanting to graduate high school at 16 or early from high school, this page has a lot of useful information ranging from the pros and cons of an early graduation, steps you can take to finish high school faster, and how it can impact you.

How to Graduate Highschool Early

How to Graduate Highschool Early

One thing to keep in mind if you, or someone you know, is thinking about trying to graduate high school early is that you’ll need some people on your side.

You’ll want to get the support of your school’s administration, guidance counselor, and parents. If they’re on your side and advocating for you and supportive your goals to graduate early, it’s all much, much easier to accomplish. If you’re school isn’t on board, you’ll have a difficult time and you might need to prove yourself by taking on a slightly higher course load at first. It helps if you start to think about this in your first year of highschool, too.

Early Graduation 101

Early graduation from high school is when you have completed all of the necessary credits. There’s a specific amount of credits that are needed to graduate from highschool, just like college or university.

If you want to graduate early from highschool, you need to get all of the necessary credits sooner than waiting the full 4 years. By taking on extra credits earlier on and taking less spares or breaks in between classes, you’ll build up more high school credits more quickly.

Being Strategic With Your Course Selection

When you’re choosing elective courses, look for ones that cover necessary credits because those will help you get through your high school career sooner.

You’ll need a certain amount of credits to graduate, but you’ll also need a certain amount of credits within specific subjects. If you work towards those subjects, you’ll have an easier time filling out your necessary credits as you progress through high school.

Most students will end up graduating with extra credits. This could be because they took certain elective courses that ended up giving them more credits than they needed. By focusing on the credits you really need, you’ll be able to graduate sooner.

Plan Ahead

If you want to graduate high school early for the purpose of starting college or university early, then it’s really important to have at least a rough idea which classes you’re planning on starting out with in post-secondary because they may have certain per-requisites.

For example, some of the courses you want to take in university might require applied mathematics, so that’s a line you’ll want to follow while you’re in highschool. It’s not just about getting the necessary credits to finish HS, but also getting the ones that will take you where you want to go after you graduate and apply to university or college if that’s your plan.

Make It a Priority

You’re going to have to spend some extra time studying. This means you might not always be able to do all the fun things you want to, but if you are good with scheduling and you stay on top of things, you won’t have to make too many massive sacrifices (other than events like prom and graduation, which you can still attend).

Speak To Your Guidance Counselor

Your school’s guidance counselor will be your guide through the whole process of graduating early. If this is something you want to aim for, you should talk to them as early on in your high school career as you can.

Approach them to ask for additional information, and tell them you want to make an informed decision as to whether or not graduating early is a good goal for you, will fit with your plans, and whether it’s a practical choice.

Not everyone should necessarily aim to finish high school early. For some students, the extra efforts and stresses of this won’t be worth it, and some students may need closer guidance and instruction from their teachers. Even though they perhaps could get through it, some students are better suited to following a more standard trajectory for their courses.

Your guidance counselor can tell you what needs to be done, and you could even ask them how they evaluate which students should attempt to graduate early and which ones shouldn’t. Also, you can ask your guidance counselor if there’s anything you should start considering right now, just to keep the door open, even if you haven’t decided that graduating high school early is something you want to pursuit or not.

The Pros of Graduating High School Early

graduating high school early

Get on with your life sooner

If high school isn’t really your jam, you can get out of there a year (or more) sooner by taking on a bigger course load.

Skip the “senioritis”

At the end of your senior year of high school, there’s a phenomenon that happens called “senioritis” which is when a lot of people are just checked out. Many students have more spares saved up, so you won’t run into your friends as often, and it just feels like you’re wasting a lot more time than in the earlier years.

People are looking ahead of to college and university, or spending more time working, doing half-ways, and it’s just like, “Why am I even here?”

Saving up money

If you finish high school early, you can get a job after high school that helps you save up money if you plan on returning to school the next year. You can put together a good little nest egg by working full time for a year and being smart about saving your money.

Headstart on post-secondary

Once you’re done your high school course load, you can start looking into some advanced placement courses to get a head start on your post-secondary credits.

The really good part about this is that you can do these courses through a high school framework, get some college or university credits when you would normally be in high school, and save money by not having to pay for these credits directly from a college or uni.

Cons of Graduating High School Early

Fear of missing out

While you’re off getting a head start on the rest of your life, you might miss out on some rites of passage or fun memories with your friends.

The last year of high school can be a pretty nostalgic time. Everyone has a lot of emotions, everyone’s in it together as they turn the page to the next chapter of life, and if you’ve graduated early you might feel like

Awkward prom

If you graduated high school a year early, are you going to go to prom where everyone is a year older than you, and not with the kids you’ve been going to school with for years?

Or are you going to come back the next year and go to prom with your classmates, even though you haven’t been attending classes with them for roughly a year? If you want to graduate with all of your friends, that’ll mean staying the course and not graduating high school early – but you can still get an early start on some AP classes!

It could be really difficult

Not everybody is equipped to graduate early. The length of the typical high school career (4 years) is a pretty decent length that works for most people. For some students, the extra challenges and stress of trying to graduate early won’t be worth it, and they would be better suited to spend the full time in high school. Everyone’s different, and graduating highschool early isn’t a great plan for every student.

Final Thoughts on Graduating Early from High School

Graduating early from high school can be a very rewarding pursuit if it fits with your goals and ambitions.

It’s something you will want to plan for ahead of time, you won’t be able to just skate into your senior year and finish early if you haven’t taken some time to plan things out – but don’t worry – a lot of students have done this before you and there’s a lot of help and resources available at most schools for any students who want to graduate highschool early.

Sara Dylan

Author Information

Sara Dylan is passionate about researching and writing interesting articles to help people. Sara is a prolific writer at, and enjoys a nice cup of tea as much as the next person.