The Pros and Cons of Graduating Early


Eva Hatfield

Taking classes at Front Range is just one of the options available to Rocky students.

Eva Hatfield and Elea Gasmi

Many students are eager to leave high school as soon as possible. They are ready to leave home and get started on their careers. But is graduating early really the best decision?


“If you have a post-secondary plan, an internship, college courses, entrepreneurship, anything to better prepare you for the world of work it is appropriate to graduate early,” Rocky counselor Brooke Wagner said.


In order to graduate early students have to complete the number of credits needed to finish high school. Students need a minimum of 240 credits to move on from high school. If students plan to go immediately into being employed by a company that does not require a college degree, then graduating early may be a good option. This may be a way to get into the workforce early and make it possible to buy a home or make investments in the stock market early in life.


However, while graduating early can be a good option for some students, for some the cons heavily outweigh the pros.


Ms. Fassnacht, the college and career advisor at Rocky Mountain High School explains, “Being a part of the Rocky community for four years gives you full opportunities to step into leadership roles and service in your activities and in the classroom. This can be helpful in college and scholarship applications, job interviews, developing soft skills needed in the workplace, etc.”


The most common stop for students after high school is attending a university, but for some, a better option, in place of graduating early, is to take part in the concurrent enrollment or campus select programs offered at Rocky Mountain High.


High school select is a program that provides students with the opportunity to earn college credits through Front Range Community College or Colorado University for courses taken in high school. These classes take place at RMHS so students do not need to worry about transportation.


These classes are free of charge to the student’s family and are instead paid for by Poudre School District. This is a great option for kids that do not have college funds available. Examples of some of the classes offered include Catering 2, Personal Finance, American Government, and many more. The credits go towards RMHS graduation credits and they also go towards college credits. Depending on if the class is CU or FRCC the credits will transfer to that specific college and the credits commonly transfer to other universities students may select as well. Students can see all the classes that offer college credits here.


I would not recommend graduating early for every student, school is about relationships and community leadership, academics is a part of the equation but it is not the main part.

— Ms. Wagner


Campus Select is another great option for students planning to attend a university. Campus Select provides students with the opportunity to take free classes at Front Range Community College. Participating in this program enrolls students in the community college and has them attend classes at the Front Range campus.


“If you’re doing college courses at Rocky you’ll save hundreds of dollars,” Wagner said.


If students are interested in taking part in this program they should talk to their counselor and they can discover what classes Campus Select offers at this link.


ASCENT is another program Rocky offers that will help students save money instead of graduating early. If accepted into this program students will stay enrolled at RMHS for a fifth year, but they will exclusively attend FRCC or AIMS. This program only lasts for one year after the senior year and PSD covers the cost of the classes. In order to qualify for this program students must:

  • Be under 21 and not participated in the ASCENT program previously
  • Have a 2.0 or higher grade point average and do not need remedial coursework
  • Meet high school graduation requirements by the end of their senior year
  • Complete at least 9 college credits before the end of their senior year. CSU, Aims, and FRCC classes accepted. AP and IB courses are accepted, but only if the student (not the high school counselor) has the AP or IB credit transcribed on the college transcript.
  • Be accepted into the college and meet prerequisites, including required test scores, for college courses
  • Take the Accuplacer placement tests


Students can take advantage of the opportunities that Rocky provides to assist in getting a higher education without having to pay for all of the college classes required to get a degree on their own.


Of course, early graduation is always an option, but there are others that students can look at that might fit them better whatever academic path they are working towards.