With our semester system, students in D214 can typically graduate after eight semesters, however there is the option to graduate a semester early. This means that after the first semester of their senior year, as long as a student has filled out the proper paperwork and completed all the requirements, they can graduate after seven semesters.
According to counselor Brian Linhart only two out of his 102 current students on his case load graduated early, which isn’t uncommon. Linhart has noticed in his six years at BG that only a handful of seniors graduate early and the main reason is to start early at Harper college. However, this is not always the main motivating factor.
“I graduated early because I wanted to focus more on my athletics while having the flexibility of school as an option,” graduate Tyler Larsen said. “I plan on training for higher level hockey along with working part-time.”
Another reason for graduating in December could be to apply for financial aid in college. If students begin college the January after they graduate, they can be eligible for that school year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Also, certain colleges are more likely to accept transfer students, so that’s another motivation for students to graduate early. However, if a student does not have a clear plan and goals, graduating early may not be beneficial.
“I think the danger is when that last bell rings and you get your diploma from the registrar here, and then life starts,” Linhart said. “And if you don’t have a game plan in terms of ‘hey I have a job lined up’ or ‘I’m going to continue my education,’ that’s just not having obligations anymore. If you don’t have a good idea of what you’re planning on doing, graduating early is not a good idea.”
According to Linhart, he makes sure that his students have a plan after early graduation. Whether there are extenuating circumstances or a students simply wants to attend college earlier, they still have to complete the same amount of requirements as any other student. However, when graduating early, students should be prepared to gain independence sooner.
“Although I could have more free time, I wouldn’t know what to do with it,” senior Cat Carli said. “I don’t have anything planned until this summer when I go back to my job.”
Since D214 is already seven weeks into the second semester, it’s too late for current seniors to graduate. However, if juniors or lowerclassmen are interested in graduating after seven semesters, they can talk with their counselor and discuss the best options. Early graduation request forms are also located in students services and are due by the student’s senior year.
“To graduate early, I had to go into my counselors office to discuss proper classes in order to meet requirements that allowed me to graduate early,” Larsen said. “I had to discuss the idea with my parents for the school to approve my decision.”
The request form also requires the assistant principal and the assistant superintendent for student services to approve early graduation. According to Linhart, students considering graduating early should start making plans at least a year before their senior year, because they need to have all the requirements. Although only three years of math, social science and science credits are needed, students need four English credits to graduate.
“Students have to take two English classes their only semester of senior year,” Linhart said. “The biggest hurdle is probably trying to get those two English classes in and still staying true to all their other classes and electives they want to take.”
Students who are graduating early also have the option to participate in the graduation ceremony in May, which is when the diplomas themselves are issued. Contrary to popular belief, graduating early doesn’t mean students have to miss out on senior festivities. They’re still allowed to participate in senior days and attend the junior/senior prom.
“Graduating early is a big step, I considered it for a while before deciding that I wanted to stay all four years,” senior Cat Carli said. “I think it depends on if it’s right for the person.”