Early graduation is a dream for many high school students. The earlier your teen graduates high school, the sooner they can move onto ideal college programs and/or kick-start their career.
However, while early graduation is touted as a common benefit of homeschooling a high schooler, it is hard work.
It’s important to understand the benefits and reality of finishing high school early. The flexibility of homeschooling does provide wiggle-room for adding extra courses while homeschooling the high school years, but keep in mind: it is double the work. Completing high school early is an incredible opportunity for many students, but it can also feel very draining.
Be sure you know what you’re getting into.
Still, it is an exciting idea and we are here to celebrate the possibility! This article will give you “the why, the how, and the what” for graduating early. You’ll learn:
- The benefits of accelerated graduation
- How to graduate early as a homeschooler
- Graduate early according to homeschool high school requirements
The Benefits of Graduating From High School Early
Accelerated graduation is a popular choice for students who would prefer getting an early start on their college education, especially if they plan on pursuing careers that require extended years of education.
For example, if your teen knows he or she is interested in a medical or law career, jump-starting their college education could be very valuable.
With accelerated programs, students often earn enough homeschooling high school credits for graduating at least one year early, if not two. It’s common to hear about 16-year-old homeschool graduates, as shocking as that sounds.
One of the most common options for accelerated graduation is dual enrollment.
This opportunity offers high school students the chance to earn college credits and homeschooling high school credits simultaneously. These programs are usually hosted by community colleges. The colleges could be flexible and let you select the courses, while others require participation in a preset program.
However, the goal is the same: build both college credit and high school credit during the high school years.
These credits look pretty great on a high school transcript for future competitive college applications. Your teen could even earn their associate’s before they graduate high school! Dual enrollment is not for everyone, nor is it available everywhere, but it is an option meriting consideration if you have the chance.
Here are the main benefits of accelerated graduation:
- Stand out in the competitive college application process.
- Build a focused foundation for their career.
- Use the last year of homeschooling the high school years for internships.
- Utilize the opportunity of already having enough credits to graduate.
- Get a head start on college.
- Possibly qualify for early graduation college scholarships.
How to Graduate Early as a Homeschooler
There are a few options to help your teen graduate high school earlier than usual. Again, you’ll first need to ensure a fast-tracked education will work well for them with the heavy course load and rigorous pace.
Common high school paths for graduating early include year-round homeschooling, taking more credits than usual, using an online accelerated homeschool curriculum program, taking the four GED tests, CLEP-ing out of courses (testing-for-credit), or pursuing dual enrollment!
For those who are unfamiliar with CLEP testing, it is a service by the College Board for students to earn equivalent credit for a college course by passing an exam at a testing center. CLEP stands for: College Level Examination Program. For example, if a student would like to skip English 101, he or she could pass the College Composition I CLEP test to earn credit in at least half the time.
Further, GED testing is a great way to skip a year or two of high school work. Instead, your student will have to pass a battery of four tests: Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science. If they use official GED preparation materials, they can make sure they know all the content and feel confident taking the exams. This could also be a good option for homeschoolers who did not use an accredited curriculum, particularly if they are looking at private or Ivy League universities. Find out more about College Admission Requirements for Homeschoolers.
Here are the 7 Ways to Graduate from High School Early:
- Year-round homeschooling (Work through the summer)
- Take several credits in middle school + beginning of high school
- Online programs may offer an accelerated pace
- Use an accelerated, rigorous curriculum
- Study for the GED test (Pass the 4 exams to get your accredited diploma)
- CLEP out of classes (Earn both high school and college credits)
- Dual enrollment
Graduate Early According to Homeschool High School Requirements
As always, you will need to check with your state laws for any legal requirements that would affect homeschoolers graduating early. Even if your teen earns equivalent homeschooling high school credits for the school board graduation standards in your state, the laws may have slightly different stipulations for homeschoolers. For example, it may be a grey area if the compulsory age for school is 18 and yet, your teen has earned enough credits to graduate at 16. Contacting an organization like HSLDA (the Home School Legal Defense Association) can also be quite helpful. They are the experts in the field!
All that to say, it’s important to double-check your state guidelines!
Here are a few things to keep in mind with homeschool high school requirements.
- Attendance regulations
- Standardized testing laws
- Annual assessments
- Compulsory attendance age
- Regulations for early graduation
- Required documentation