How to graduate early from High School (if you hate school)

Most articles (and videos) about how to graduate early from high school advise you to take even more classes to finish school. But what if you hate school and the last thing you want to do is adding more to something that you are already dreading?

The most common recommendation to completing your high school course requirements faster is to work closely with your school counselor, to take more courses, to add more advanced courses, to take additional summer courses, and to take tests like the ACT or SAT.

While that course of action is one of the ways to graduate high school early, it is not for everyone.

And it is certainly not the only option that you have!

Why do students hate school?

During the past 20+ years, many students came to our Academy because they utterly hated their former schools. As to why those kids were so fed up with their education so far, there were about as many different reasons as there were students.

Some students said that the reason why they hated school was that their classes had been either too boring or too difficult. Others commented that they did not get along with their teachers, that there were way too many tests, or that they were treated unfairly in school. Most everyone agreed that the school start time was too early and that they were too tired to pay attention to what was going on in the classroom.

Some eye-opening numbers …

A survey conducted by Indiana University showed that 2 out of 3 students are bored in class every day. The survey involved more than 81,000 students from 110 high schools in 26 U.S. states. Being bored in one or the other class is not unusual. However, 13,770 students said in the survey that they were bored in each and every one of their classes.

The Indiana University survey emphasized that schools participating in the study were predominantly in the Midwest. Based on our experience here in California, we are seeing similar results of students hating school because they are bored in class.

We also agree with the survey’s findings that many students are not willing to spend a lot of time doing homework. Even though the majority of students stated in the survey that they consider homework to be of importance, 43 percent of students said that they spend an hour or less doing homework each week.

That is not an hour or less each day. It is per week!

In the survey, 3 out of 4 students said that the only reason for going to school at all was to earn a diploma and go to college.

As to why students wanted to get a diploma and go to college – it was the dream of a job that pays a lot of money.

Unfortunately, reality is different!

Almost 50 percent of all students who enter colleges or universities in the United States never finish their education. According to a Harvard University study, 71 percent of students entering a two-year college program drop out.

The two major reasons for the high dropout rates are the high cost of attending a college and the academic demands on students. Even if you do go to college with the help of a scholarship program, the cost of books alone is out of this world. Colleges need to make sure you meet basic academic requirements, so expect the same Math or English classes that you just had in high school.

Before you begin your own personal journey …

The key to your own personal success lies in knowing what you hate and what you love. You know what you hate and that you want to finish high school as soon as possible.

But do you know where you want to go?

Working on getting an early high school diploma without really knowing what you love to do is like going into a travel agency to buy a plane ticket without any idea of where you want to travel.

What Color is Your Parachute for Teens, unlike the original What Color is your Parachute, is geared to a younger audience.  The book helps teens to discover their passions and unique skills. It also provides insights into how to use those interests to choose a college major or to find a dream job. Our students gave What Color is Your Parachute for Teens a five-star rating because it addresses modern topics like social media and internships.

If you hate school but really love the academics …

If you find school boring but you do like studying, then working with your school counselor to speed up your graduation is worth your time. Here is a plan of action:

1. Make a list of all the specific courses that your high school requires from you in order to graduate.

2. Make a list of all the specific courses that your future college mentions as your college admission requirements. This is important because while your high school might only require you to take 3 years of math, your future college might require 4 years.

3. Once you know what courses you need for your high school graduation and what courses you need for your college admission, you can plan on how to complete those courses. Advanced courses, summer school courses, evening courses offered by your local college for high school students, and taking courses via an online virtual school are all options.

If you hate school and want to get out ….

If you hate school, want to get an early diploma, but do not want to add any additional courses, then you have several options:

1. Find out how many more courses you would need to finish your high school early. If you have just a few courses left, then talk to your counselor if you can complete those courses at your own pace in an independent study program. Independent study programs allow you to work at home and at your own pace.

2. You can enroll in an online virtual school.  Virtual online schools allow you to enroll either full time or part time. You can choose what courses you are actually interested in, when you want to study, and how quickly you want to complete them. In order to get your high school diploma with an online virtual school, make sure that it is accredited and that the diploma will be accepted by any future college or employer.

3. If you are not interested in an independent study program or an online virtual school because you love hands-on activities more than academics, then check out certificate programs offered by your local colleges. Certificate programs can be found in many job fields including electronics, computer, nursing,  the arts, automotive, carpentry, business, healthcare, and even becoming a lifeguard. A certificate can be obtained in as little as 6 weeks.

Many community colleges will admit you even if you do not have a high school diploma. Instead of enrolling as a full-time student, however, you just want to enroll in a certificate program. The difference is that full-time students would have to pass placement tests in Math and English. Many certificate programs do not require those.

There is no need to drop out of high school in order to go to college. More and more colleges are accepting high school students who want to pursue interests not available in high school. And most high schools will give you credit for any certificate programs or classes that you take at a college. More than  70% of high schools in the United States have now dual enrollment programs. Some students attending middle school/high school and college are as young as 14 years old.

If you hate school, get your diploma with a test …

In order to get your high school diploma, you can take the GED. The GED (General Equivalency Development or General Equivalency Diploma) has to be taken at an official test center but you can prepare for it online. If you want to see example test questions and get study materials, you can visit the official GED test site. You can also check out free GED practice tests , available in English or Spanish.

According to the GED Testing Service policy, some states allow you to take the GED at the age of 16 while others require you to be 17 or 18 years old. To find out the GED age requirement in your state, you can search online for “GED age requirement in [insert your state].”


In California, you have to be 18 years old to take the GED and you cannot be enrolled in a school or already have your high school diploma. As such, none of our students took the GED but the CHSPE.

The CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Exam) can be taken if you are 16 years old or are enrolled in the second semester of 10th Grade. The “or” is very important. For example, if you are 12 years old and in the second semester of 10th Grade (as some homeschoolers are), you can take the CHSPE.

In contrast to the GED, the CHSPE only consists of a Math, English and Writing section. If you do not pass a section of the test, you can retake again. The CHSPE is easier than the GED but regarded higher by employers and colleges.

In 2018, the CHSPE will be given on the following three dates:

  • Mar 17, 2018
  • Jun 16, 2018
  • Oct 20, 2018

The regular registration deadline for the upcoming March 17, 2018, CHSPE test is February 16. If you miss the registration date, the late registration deadline is March 2, 2018. The latest date to register for the CHSPE is March 13. After March 13, you can no longer register for the March 17 test. The cost for the regular registration is $130. The cost for the late registration is $155. The cost for the emergency registration is $180. You can retake all or just portions of the CHSPE test if you do not pass the first time.

Read more: CHSPE test details: How to pass the CHSPE exam

If you hate school, you can take the HiSET …

After the GED made some major changes in 2014, more and more states adopted the HiSET, another test to allow students to get a high school equivalency. The test is called HiSET and is provided by the Educational Testing Services (ETS). The general age requirement for the HiSET is 18. However, you can take the test at the age of 16 depending on your state’s requirement.

According to ETS, the following states are offering the HiSET. You can check out the specific requirements for each state and testing center here.

  • California  (Chula Vista Adult School, Long Beach School for Adults, Los Angeles Unified School District Test Center)
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wyoming

When reviewing the HiSET as an option to graduate early from High School, our students said that they still preferred the CHSPE because the HiSET included a Science and Social Studies test section.

Graduate early by taking the TASC test …

If you are 16 years old or older, you can also take the TASC test to get your high school diplomaTASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) is currently offered in  the following states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • West Virginia

In order to take the TASC test, you have to be 16 years old or older and cannot be enrolled in a high school. Like the GED and HiSET, the requirements for TASC change by state. To find out your state’s TASC requirements, you can click on your state’s name on TASC’s official website.

The TASC is also available in Spanish.

Staying in high school versus graduating early

As the above survey by Indiana University has shown, many students stay in high school even though they are utterly bored and oftentimes even hate it. So why do they stay?

After interviewing our new incoming students, we discovered that while many students know what they hate, they have no idea what they really enjoy doing.

All of our students had the choice to graduate early from high school. However, many decided to complete all high school years with us because our individualized learning environment in a rural area with animals was enjoyable to them. Most importantly, everyone learned what it was that they actually loved doing.

Our review conclusion …

Several states are taking action because more and more students hate school and want to graduate early from high school. However, too many schools keep the states’ actions for early graduation alternatives a secret. After reviewing numerous choices, our students recommended a high school/college certificate/online courses combination as the most efficient way to finishing high school early (if you do not hate school and enjoy the social aspect of school). If you do hate school and do not care about the social environment, then taking the CHSPE, HiSET, or TASC are worth checking into. Our Academy gave the states’ new alternatives a five star review because — as our students commented — without those actions, they had felt trapped.

However, before you work on leaving high school as early as possible, ask yourself how you want to spend your future. As such, our most important answer to the question on how to graduate early from High School is finding out what you love to do.

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