Graduating Early is Beneficial to Ambitious Students, But Mandatory Senior Year Credits Hold Them Back

Christi Larson, Staff Writer

Often students feel that they have all of the credits they need to graduate by the time they reach their senior year, and most of the time they do in fact have all the required credits. English is the only exception to that, as it is required for all four years, and more recently, math has been added to that requirement.
A student could take an English class during the summer. Then after this in some special cases they will have no real reason to be in school senior year, and should have to opportunity to graduate a year early.
According to the Washington Post, “Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wants to reward public high school students who graduate early by giving them college scholarships, a move he said would make higher education more accessible even as it saves the state some money.”
Students in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) were required to have four math credits to graduate, up until last year when the county added students must have a senior math credit, preventing students from having the opportunity to graduate early. In some cases all of these credits were met by the time a student entered high school, given they took Algebra in their first year of middle school. Although most students only have one or two credits coming out of middle school, that is one or two less than what they have to take in high school, right?
Wrong. Starting in the 2015-16 school year, MCPS added to their course bulletin website that a student must take a senior math credit if they graduate in 2018 or later. Sorry graduating class of 2018. This should not be a requirement because it is only forcing a student to have to stay in high school longer than what is really necessary to get all their credits. RHS has made these changes even sooner than most of the county, making the class of 2017 follow these course guidelines as well.
“If students have fulfilled all their obligations for a high school diploma, then they should be allowed to graduate early,” Athletic Director Michael Hayes, who is also in charge of internships said.
Yet, because MCPS decided to add more unnecessary math credits, students are forced to stay. These extra math credits are not helpful to those who are not pursuing math-related studies in higher education, or those who plan to work after graduation. Students who are interested in getting ahead and starting college are prevented from doing so because they have to have this senior math credit that is holding them back.
“They should’ve kept math to the old version but highly recommend four years of math [in high school]. For people who already completed four years of math, they should not be required to take another year of math but highly recommended,” senior Minche Lee said.
There are many RHS students who are taking almost all elective classes or opting for a half day schedule, and working or taking an internship for the second half of the school day. Students who are mostly seniors and even some in their junior year may be taking classes just because they have to have a class, while most classes are not needed and are used as just filler classes.
Counselor Wendy Kiang-Spray said, “Why not stay here, get a free education, take AP classes, and pay a smaller amount and do well on an AP test that may give you college credit for a class that would otherwise cost maybe 1,000?”
Well, not all students do well in AP classes because they are nothing like an actual college class. Also why stay here when you can get ahead and get a better education else where as well as work towards getting a degree ahead of your peers? Having to stay in high school extra time is just wrong.
By the time senior year comes around, most students are done with all mandatory credits. When they are done with these mandatory credits, they feel they have no reason to go to school and take all elective classes. There is just no point. So, what options do they have? That is where internships come into play as well as possibly getting a job.
Lee opted to take an internship his senior year.
“It depends on the person and what they want to do in life. Some see graduating early as a way to get ahead while others see internship as a learning about the work life,” Lee said.
Alumnus Justin Travis opted to get a job while still taking classes rather than waste his time taking pointless extra classes that were not at all necessary. This job made it possible for Travis to have more time to himself with such a busy lifestyle. Travis had to wake up and walk to school everyday, as well as go to soccer, then he worked until 10 p.m. nearly five days a week. This barely left time for homework.
“If students have finished everything on what they needed to do in order to graduate, they should be able to, but they don’t have to. Plus some students play sports and have jobs, so it’s very difficult to do everything in one day,” Travis said.