By Laura Bock,
For most Davis High students, high school is a three-year, six-semester commitment. However, what some students may not realize is that there is an option to graduate early, which some decide to utilize.
Senior James Locker graduated early on March 22, 2014, which allowed him to work at his job at ACE Hardware without needing a work permit. He was also able to get a jump-start on college by taking classes at Sacramento City College.
Locker accomplished this by taking the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE), which, if passed, provides a Certificate of Proficiency that is the legal equivalent to a high school diploma in the state of California.
“I am glad that I graduated early,” Locker said. “I took some interesting classes that were not available at the high school, and the experience gained by navigating through all the paperwork and counseling will be very helpful when I attend a four-year college.”
Although he’s happy that he graduated early, Locker did return to DHS.
“College without friends or athletics is not a great experience,” Locker explained. “Another thing is that our educational system is built so that the transition from high school to college is best done after completing senior year.”
About graduating early, Locker added that “if you would like to take this route […] I would only recommend it if you need to get into a career early or if high school is just not challenging enough.”
For DHS alumnus Mark Unger, graduating early was a different experience. Unger graduated on Jan. 17, 2014, but was able to walk with the rest of his class during graduation in June.
“High school wasn’t exactly the right fit for me, and I felt I was wasting my time a little bit. But mostly, I really, really wanted to go traveling so my whole purpose behind graduating early was to go travel for four months,” Unger said.
Unger accomplished this by taking two semesters worth of English his first semester of senior year, as well as taking both government and economics at the same time.
“The biggest thing was talking to counselors and advisers and figuring out how to do it,” Unger said. Unger began speaking to his counselor about his decision toward the end of his junior year.
After he graduated, Unger went on a four-month backpacking trip in Europe with a friend who had also graduated early.
“We visited 28 countries, I believe,” Unger said. They trekked through Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Turkey and Morocco.
“I’m absolutely, 100 percent happy that I graduated early,” Unger added. “The time I spent traveling I learned far more important life skills and had much more fulfilling experiences than I believe I would have if I had stayed for my final semester senior year.”
Unger recommends the experience of graduating early.
“It depends on what you do when you graduate early, of course, but if you feel you’re done with high school, why not just move on?”
“Go out there and see something before you go to college. It’ll really change your outlook on the world,” he added.