The Why Behind Seniors Choosing to Graduate Early or Not

The Why Behind Seniors Choosing to Graduate Early or Not


Halley McGrann, senior, graduated at semester.

Gracie Chavez, Reporter

Every year there are about 15-20 seniors who choose to graduate early at the end of the first semester. Is the reason they graduated early this year because of COVID-19, or is it something they have always wanted to do? Some seniors make their decision of graduating early before they even know if they’re eligible to do so. Whether or not they can graduate early all depends on what credits they do and do not have along with if they participate in any spring sports.

“The main reason why I decided to graduate early was because of COVID-19,” Halley McGrann, senior, said. “I felt like since all events and the ‘fun parts’ of high school were canceled there was no reason for me to stay for any longer than I needed to.” 

Among the class of 2020 and 2021, many high school experiences have been lost. Everything from prom, formal, cheering at basketball games, and many more of the most memorable moments they get to have as a high school student. After last year’s graduating class, many seniors this year hoped for better luck and less chaos for their senior year. However, they started the school year either in hybrid mode learning or fully remote, making it more difficult to experience all that they wish they could.

“I think as a senior it is such an amazing thing to stay the last semester and attend basketball games and actually be able to stand in the front row,” McGrann said. “I think there are so many amazing things that you can do as a senior if you stay the second semester, which unfortunately our class got to experience 0% of.” 

As for the classes that students take, there are many different options for electives. From art classes to more core-based to even classes like psychology or anatomy. The school provides a large number of courses for its students. Seniors who may have chosen to stay strictly because of a spring sport or activity get the opportunity to choose from the wide variety of classes offered. 

“I would have most likely taken some art classes and some classes like sociology, they’re absolutely intriguing,” Kenzie Thompson, senior, said. 

Depending on when COVID-19 slows down and allows schools to fall back into a more normal routine, future seniors might have the chance to experience the activities that the current seniors didn’t. Getting advice from someone who has been through the same situation is always helpful, but what would the advice be when it comes to deciding on graduating early or staying for the second semester? Many seniors are looking back at the last four years of their life as high school students. A majority of them may wish they once got the advice they now give to future seniors. 

“If you’re looking to graduate early, always put in the work… set your goals high and reward yourself along the way as a self-motivator,” Thompson said. 

Multiple seniors said that putting in your work and staying organized is a great way to keep up with your work and get things done efficiently. Along with taking advanced classes within their first couple of years in high school, many AP and honors classes are available to those who are eligible. 

“I truly think that depending on what your plans for after high school are should be a factor in whether or not you graduate early. I made the right decision for sure,” Ehllee Buckholtz, senior, said.

Contrary to students who have chosen to graduate early, others have decided to continue at the high school for their last semester. To graduate high school, certain requirements have to be met. A majority of students get enough credits by junior year. So what is it that keeps the seniors for the second semester? Many upperclassmen students take college classes to fill their schedule and help advance them for their future career path. Depending on each student’s plans after graduation, it’s important to base the decisions that are made on those plans.

“I could have graduated at semester but I took college classes this year so I had to stay second semester to complete them,” Andrew Rantz, senior, said. 

College classes usually last the whole school year. Without finishing both semesters, the credit cannot be given.

While it may be classes for some students, it could be sports for others. Spring sports can also be seen to people as some of the most popular sports and a lot of students participate during this time, from baseball and softball to track and field, along with girls swim and soccer.

“I did have enough credits but I chose to not graduate because I enjoy seeing people at school and I play baseball,” Eden Schimmel, senior, said. 

Some teenagers value their social time and time with friends. High school is the last opportunity they are given to enjoy their time while having little responsibilities, with that being said many students cherish their high school years and positively use their time. No matter the reason for what kept them from graduating, these students get to enjoy the last 18 weeks of their education.

When it comes to making a big decision that will impact their future like graduating early, it’s always good to know the pros and the cons. The second semester can sometimes be more rewarding and fun for someone than the first semester was. 

“I’d recommend it to future seniors but I know some people hate high school and want to get out right away,” Manuel Salamanca, senior, said. “I’ve never been like that because personally I enjoy school and wanna be in it for the full 4 years.” 

Now that the first semester is over and the early graduates are done, do the seniors who stayed wish they chose to graduate with the others? Graduating early definitely is a big decision and can potentially make or break their luck when it comes to education outside of high school. When it comes to making the decision some students may look at it from the present time and what’s currently going on, rather than what is going to happen in the future. 

“Right now, with COVID honestly I might (have made the decision to graduate earlier). School has been tough for me, adding on the e-learning makes it even harder,” Max Orton, senior, said. 

When COVID-19 hit last year, no one expected it to last for any more than 6 months. Throughout the past few months especially, everything has blown up. Case numbers were the highest they have ever been, death numbers were rapidly increasing and not many community members were doing what they necessarily should be doing. COVID-19 has made things difficult for all, it’s something that nobody saw coming and something never expected to last so long. 

As seniors prepare themselves in hope that they get to experience things like prom, graduation, and even spring sports, they are wrapping up the last few months of their childhood.