A head start

Three students offer their perspectives on graduating early


Kylie Goodrich (right) and Onikah Parton (left), whom Goodrich is attending the 2020 internship with, in Haiti last year.

Kaleigh Newton and Jane Jeong

Graduation always seems to be bittersweet. While it means the end to the four years that so many restless youth seek, graduation also feels like a leap into the dark abyss of the “real world”. However, despite the uncertainty that graduation brings, some students choose to cut their high school years short with an early graduation plan. Some use the semester or even full year for career opportunities, self exploration, or time to figure things out. While not everyone can afford the time or money such plans require, an unconventional graduation plan can be productive or just plain fun, even if it does feel like a quicker leap into the abyss.

Seeing the World

Emily Higgins, a former NHS student who graduated a semester early, has swam at the beaches of Fort Lauderdale, ridden roller coasters in Orlando, marched in Washington D.C., and is now relaxing in the Bahamas.

“We took our yacht through the Exuma Islands and swam with pigs, rode jet skis to different islands, visited a lizard beach and fed them grapes, and snorkeled a crashed airplane. Now we’re back in Atlantis visiting the water park and shopping at the local straw markets,” Higgins said. “These are just some of my favorite things I’ve done since I graduated.”

Higgins has done all of this since January 8, 2019, and she says the time that she has been using to travel is thanks to her decision to graduate a semester early.

“I decided to graduate early because I’m lucky enough to have amazing opportunities to travel the world,” Higgins said. “And I knew this would be a perfect time to learn more about myself and discover what I want to do with my life.”

While Higgins knew before she graduated that she wanted to travel, she acknowledges that deciding whether or not to graduate early can be a daunting task.

“I think some people are hesitant to graduate early because they don’t know what they would do with the free time,” Higgins said. “Also some people just aren’t ready to move on from high school.”

Nevertheless, Higgins values the time that graduating early has given her.

“Graduating early has given me the chance to see how big the world is and how there’s so much to explore and aspire to do. It gives students the chance to figure out their place in a world outside of NHS and forces them to figure out what they want their life to look like,” Higgins said. “NHS taught me many things, but the world is so much bigger than Noblesville, Indiana.”

Taking Time Off

Junior Nick Serauskis has a seemingly “normal” graduation plan despite it being early.

“I’m planning on going to Purdue in the long term, but for now I’m going to exercise, work and just enjoy myself for a semester after working hard enough to graduate early,” Serauskis said.

Though Serauskis now has a plan to graduate a semester early and is confident in his decision, he still has many fears and worries about what early graduation will mean for him.

“Personally, I feel that some people are afraid to graduate early because they’ve been in school for so long, it’s the only thing we’ve known for the longest time,” Serauskis said. “I was scared at first, that I was just going to be thrown out into the real world, but after talking with my mom, she explained how it’s like that after high school too, so if I could get acclimated earlier, I’d be in better shape.”

Planning for the future in general has been a different experience for Serauskis than his peers, but not necessarily in a negative way.

“People are planning to be in school for another year and are revolving their lives around it, whereas I’m planning for after school in December,” Serauskis said. “I’m more or less setting myself up for a life that I’ve wanted for years, where I’ll have much more time to work with. ‘What’s next?’ has always been on my mind, and come next year, I feel like I can finally put that all into effect.”

While some students might feel lost with all the time graduating early provides, Serauskis says he feels a stronger sense of direction.

“I feel that I’m less scared of the future than my peers. Many feel as if as soon as school is done then they’re lost, and they’ll be confused on where to go, what to do, but I’ll be much more prepared as I’ll have nearly 5-6 months of experience in the ‘real world,’” Serauskis said. “Simply becoming an adult much sooner will make me happier.”

Interning Abroad

While some can barely stand the idea of going off for college, others are eager to get a head start on leaving the nest. Junior Kylie Goodrich is one of the few ready to journey halfway around the world for an internship to start her career.

“I plan to go on a medical trip,” Goodrich said. “Right now it’s Haiti.”

While numerous internships are possible for students, Goodrich doesn’t want to spend the beginning of 2020 anywhere but Haiti.

“I went to Haiti last year and loved it,” Goodrich said. “I know how much help they need down there, especially when it comes to medical help.”

Although Goodrich factored Haiti’s need into her decision, this isn’t just a mission trip. It’s the beginning of her career.

“I want to go some where in the medical field, whether that be a nurse, anesthetist, or a pediatrician,” Goodrich said.

However, like the majority of students, Goodrich didn’t always have such a clear plan. In fact, she only decided all this last semester, but as she said, “It’s never too late.”

“I think getting that experience [interning in Haiti] before I decided to spend my whole life [working in the medical field] is really important,” Goodrich said. “I don’t want to ever regret decisions like what career I want.”

Although there will always be some level of uncertainty, Goodrich has found a sense of security in the path she’s taking, and she says she can’t think of a better first step than the trip.

“When I learned about the internship I knew I had to do it,” Goodrich said. “It was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I couldn’t let it pass me by.”

NHS Counselor Amy Meyers’s Perspective on Early Graduation

When is graduating early useful?

I think graduating early is useful if you plan to start work or if you want to spend the semester working before you go to college. Graduating early so you can sit at home is not helpful so making sure you are doing something productive after graduation is when it is best.

Could graduating early pose any issues with applying to college?

Graduating early would not pose any problems when applying to colleges. I think colleges will want to see that you are doing something useful with your time after you graduated.

Advice for students who are hesitant to graduate early?

I would say that you should have something lined up for what to do after you graduate. I would also think about the social aspect of high school. If you enjoy going to school to hang out and see friends, then you would probably miss out on some things if you graduate early.