Accelerated Graduation and Finishing High School Early

In the past few years, finishing high school in two or three years has become an exciting option for students across our country. However, in the homeschool community students have taken advantage of the flexibility homechooling by graduating early for decades. Even so, what’s the appeal for this acceleration of high school studies? Why would a high school student want to finish early? Currently, there are many reasons and even incentives to encourage high schoolers to accept this motivating challenge.

Why Accelerate Graduation?

1) Often students who graduate early are “noticed” and looked at more closely in competitive college application processes.

2) Some students simply know their career, or have already gotten started on it and just want to focus all their efforts there.

3) Students may have arranged an apprenticeship and want to use the last year or so of high school to get more involved in applying their apprenticeship skills

4) Some students simply want to eliminate a stale Senior year.

5) Students graduating early are often interested in getting a head start on college.

6) Some colleges are offering financial incentives for students graduating early. These incentives often come in the form of a scholarship for an early start. This can often be used either for early admission or dual enrollment purposes.

The number of students taking advantage of these incentives is increasing each year. The public school systems across our country are widely offering accelerated graduation not only for the student’s benefit, but for the school’s financial gain as well. It isn’t difficult to compare these cost savings within homeschooling as well. Students completing their high school education in a shorter period of time will end the additional cost of more homeschooling materials or even online course subscriptions.

In addition, dual enrollment numbers are doubling each year, and high school’s are now offering a more flexible means of education.  For many homeschoolers, using the public school as an intermediate step to homeschooling with dual enrollment may be a wise choice. Although the ways to attain an early graduation are many, the path is not set in stone. Any number of options and methods can work and depends solely on the individual student’s needs. There are many ways to approach an accelerated graduation.

How Can I Graduate Early?

1) Many high schoolers will have accumulated enough credits and have attained a high enough GPA to allow them to skip a year of high school. This is often a method for those homeschoolers using an umbrella or online type of homeschool program in which the student is accountable to another entity.

2) high school students wanting to finish early can easily work through the summer and take summer courses. Many homeschoolers school year round, and in this case are able to complete a four year high school career in much less time.

3) Some high schoolers will use an accelerated homeschool curriculum. This type of curriculum is designed with a faster pace in mind. Students know up front that they will be rigorously working through a typical high school course regiment in a shorter amount of time.

4) An increasing number of high school students are deciding that college is overpriced and overrated. These students usually have a career in mind or have already started one of their own, and will finalize their high school experience with the GED test.

5) Some students find that “testing out” of subjects is a quick and painless way to earn high school credit. The CLEP test and many others could be used for this by earning college and homeschool credit at once.

6) Currently, one of the most popular methods of accelerated graduation is the idea of dual credit. Students typically enroll in courses that count as both college and high school credit. This method accomplishes the requirements they need to meet for high school while gaining some additional college credit.

Are There any Legal Ramifications?

Legally, a homeschool student can study the courses that they need at any time they choose during the course of their high school career. However, as long as the homeschooler is following their state and local guidelines for homeschooling, an accelerated program within these parameters will be perfectly fine. Detailed records should be kept of courses, grades, and extracurricular accomplishments. Moving through high school at an accelerated pace can often become overwhelming and confusing. Keep it simple by keeping it organized. Graduating early is an honorable intention, however, it is vitally important to remember that we should never exchange an accelerated education for a quality education.




Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been an integral part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional schooling and homeschooling became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, remote project manager, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children (ages 11-17) in southern Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience and help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected]

January 23, 2014


  1. Jamie says:
    Posted November 3, 2016 8:14 pm

    As a homeschool student, your child will graduate with you as the "teacher of record." This means that you create the diploma, the transcripts, and the report cards. All records are created by the homeschooling parent. (One of the reasons we have free downloads available for all of those records). As far as finding out what your student needs to take to graduate in NH, please visit our state laws page. There you will find a link to NH Board of Education.

  2. Jennifer Job says:
    Posted October 27, 2016 12:18 pm

    Will my child receive a diploma or GED for high school if we home school him? Also where can I find a list of courses that he needs to take grades 9-12 to graduate with a diploma in NH?
    Thank You!

  3. angela says:
    Posted May 21, 2016 8:15 am

    I see a lot of people talking about getting through highschool faster but my question is how do you get through elementary faster? My state is Pennsylvania. Our time requirements are either 180 days or 990 hours per school year and that evaluation be handed in by June 30th each year. I don't plan on pushing my son this hard but as an examply, if I schooled him 360 days in one year would that be able to count as 2 grades as long as I did desperate evaluations for each "grade"?

  4. Melisa says:
    Posted November 8, 2015 9:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. We use a combination of christian curriculums such as Abekka, Bob Jones, ACE paces, Alpha Omega life pacs, etc. I really feel she is getting a much better education than her public school friends.

  5. Jamie says:
    Posted November 5, 2015 1:17 pm

    Yes Melisa, this is definitely legal. As long as you've checked with your state's requirements and know what they require. WHEN you fulfill their requirements is not so much their concern as HOW those requirements are fulfilled. You definitely want to make sure that you choose a quality curriculum that really teaches those required subjects. She will have to take the ACT/SAT prior to entering college. Colleges often use that to verify that your student has done the work they claim.

  6. Melisa says:
    Posted November 3, 2015 2:17 pm

    Well, does anyone know for sure if this is legal? Getting the required credits, but not actually doing all the grades?

  7. Melisa says:
    Posted November 3, 2015 9:04 am

    My ninth grader wants to finish h.s. early. I was told that as long as she has the course credits required for graduation for my state, that was good. So, in other words, if she takes the 3 math requirements, 4 language arts, 3 science, 3 social studies, and has 7 elective credits she can graduate . We are not accountable to an outsider, I use a combination of curric. Am I correct in this thin? She is planning to go to college but wants to take the first year off and work and maybe take an online college course or study for a CLEP test.

  8. Amanda says:
    Posted March 2, 2015 3:39 pm

    Interested on finishing highschool faster.

  9. Jennifer N. says:
    Posted January 25, 2014 1:54 pm

    These are some great tips! My high school daughter has discovered she'd really like to finish high school early and move on to college. Luckily, she's not the only one who wants to graduate early, and plenty of her friends are planning to take that path too. Advanced Placement courses have also been helpful for us, since a few of them are offered at a homeschool co-op we attend.

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