Early graduation is just around the corner for some students

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Some New Trier students choose to graduate early, to have more time to pursue interests after high school or to attend college early.
Junior Danny Kaler will be graduating at the end of this school year to attend college. Kaler will pursue music.
“I did not want to let high school get in the way of progress,” he said.
Kaler said his mom had been his inspiration for pursuing the three year track.
“She pointed it out to me as a way to both save a year and not spend time gaining unnecessary credits,” he said.
Kaler said that one of the challenges for him has been fitting the extra year of English into his busy schedule.
Though it is more work, he said, “Now that I have gotten much more used to it, I feel I can say that it actually seems much easier and almost like a completely normal school year, aside from the fact that deep down I know it’s my third and final one.”
He has found that taking things a week at a time helps him to control his stress, because he finds it less overwhelming to just focus on the moment.
Symphony Orchestra has also been an instrumental part in helping him keep a cool head during his final year.
“I really enjoy the class because I get to make music with my best friends, and especially since music is something which I intend to major in while in college, ” said Kaler.
In addition, New Trier allows Symphony Orchestra to count for major credit, which helps to buffer his GPA.
Kaler believes that the three year track is a good idea for anyone with one specific interest for college.
He did warn that it’s been a very rigorous track and that in order to succeed, one must be organized and stay in the moment, because “to try to think of doing everything at once would be, simply put, overwhelming.”
Tom Shorrock, a post-high school counselor, agrees that students with a particular interest are the ones who tend to succeed with early graduation.
“The ones who tend to follow through with it are the ones who have a particular interest. Like someone who wants to do an apprenticeship at the Joffrey Ballet or have more time to meet with agents for acting and attend open calls and auditions,” said Shorrock.
One senior leaving after first semester is Kevin Quinn, who is travelling to LA to audition and hopefully further his acting career.
Quinn said, “A lot of people kind of throw second semester away, but not in a bad way. They just relax and hang out, because most already know where they’re going for college.”
Quinn explained he’d rather make use of his time and go to Los Angeles.
According to Quinn, his first semester has not been affected too much by the change, despite him being in two English classes.
Quinn said it’s the same amount of work that he’s had in other years, “So, it’s not easy, but it’s manageable.”
“Honestly, I’m surprised more people don’t do it. If you have all the right credits, you might as well do it and try something new,” said Quinn
According to Quinn the one thing that he feels he will miss out on is the second semester senior experience.
“We’ve all been together for four years so we’re kind of like a family by now. So I will miss having some final chances to spend time with them,” explained Quinn.
Not many students choose to graduate early. Shorrock oversees approximately 150 students, and this year he only has two who are graduating early.
According to Shorrock there are implications to having less time in high school that some students don’t like.
Many seniors, such as Quinn and Kaler, do not love the idea of missing out on the second semester atmosphere.
For those graduating after junior year, the stakes are higher, because the colleges really evaluate them on freshman and sophomore year grades and extracurriculars.
“They miss the opportunity of having junior year be something that is considered in their application process,” said Shorrock.
Despite the obstacles and setbacks, Kaler has been optimistic about his choice in the three year track, declaring, “I feel it will be very much worth it in the end.”
In order to graduate early, students must have fulfilled all of their graduation requirements. For juniors this is especially difficult, because at New Trier four years of English are required.
The student must then find time to fit extra semesters of English into their schedule.
Shorrock advises, “Summer school and Early Bird courses help a lot when it comes to fitting in all your classes.”
There are a variety of reasons that students choose to pursue early graduation. If a student wants to enter college with the rest of their class, yet still have a year to work, apprentice, travel, or focus on other interests, then they must graduate at the end of their junior year.
Some students may just be tired of high school after three years, and choose to enter college a year early. This involves handling junior year courses, additional graduation requirements, and college applications all at once.
The process is much easier for seniors who choose to graduate after their first semester, because the student has an extra semester of graduation requirements fulfilled, and college applications are out of the way.
They can spend that extra semester either getting a head start on a gap year, or just spend the extra months before college in an internship or traveling.

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