Posted by ICON School on Jan 1, 2022 9:51:00 AM

high school students trying to graduate early

Many students only dream of finishing high school early not realizing that it’s very possible to do, especially in Idaho. It can be an exciting and challenging process, but if you have the drive to do so and are in a program that supports you, you can do it! The key to success is to understand why you want to graduate early and create a solid plan to make it happen.


There are plenty of reasons high school students decide to graduate early, and most of them boil down to getting a jumpstart on life after high school. Here are some reasons you might be considering early graduation:

“High school isn’t enough of a challenge.”

We hear this a lot from students enrolled in ICON’s programs. Many high school students don’t feel challenged by their high school’s curriculum. These are usually students who are eager to get hands-on practical experience from a trade school or who thrive in an elevated academic environment like college.

“I’m ready to start my career.”

Sometimes high school students already have a plan for their career and are anxious to get started. Some people know their career path could take many years of study and training (medicine, law, etc.). Others might already have an internship or job opportunity lined up.

Through Idaho’s Fast Forward program, Idaho students can work at the pace that makes the most sense for their life and career goals. Advanced Opportunities are also perfect for these types of students.

“I want extra time to explore career options.”

Determining what’s next after high school is a big decision. There are so many career paths out there and many high schoolers need more time to decide. That’s why taking a “gap year” is becoming more and more popular among high school students. During a gap year, young people can take their time to figure out what’s next. 

You can experiment with different education or career paths. Common opportunities people might pursue include: 

  • Internships
  • Volunteering
  • Job Shadowing
  • Class Auditing
  • Traveling

Or maybe you just need some time to reflect on what you want next in life. Whatever the reason that drives you to finish high school early, it’s important that you have a plan in place to do so.


There are specific steps to graduating early, and it’s important to understand what those are so you can make a plan. It’s best to work backward, starting with when you want to graduate. 

1. Set a Graduation Date

How much time do you need for your plans after high school? A semester? A year? Two years? Discuss this with your parents and a guidance counselor to determine which timeline and program is right for you. If you are in middle school, you can start taking advanced classes to cut down your time in high school. Once you settle on a timeline, you can pick your official graduation date. 

2. Identify Courses, Number of Credits, and Other Requirements 

Meet with a school guidance counselor about the number of credits you need and courses you’ll need to take. Beyond the courses and number of credits, some schools may have additional requirements such as exams or projects. 

If there is a specific school you want to earn your diploma from, there may be certain requirements in order to graduate from that school. ICON, as well as other online public education providers, colleges, and universities, offer technical competency credits, dual credit, or advanced placement courses that can get you on track and help you get ahead.  

3. Determine Any Specific College Requirements

If you’re looking at certain college programs, be sure to research any specific admissions requirements they might have. Many colleges have required courses and credits above and beyond basic high school graduation requirements. This is especially true for more competitive colleges. For example, your dream university might require 3 years of English instead of two. 

4. Pull Together Current Transcripts and Recommendation Letters

For an accelerated program, you’ll likely need to provide current academic transcripts and recommendations. Ask your current school to provide you with three to five official transcripts so you have them on hand when submitting applications. Also, be thinking about who to ask for recommendations. You can ask teachers, mentors, and coaches who know you well and will vouch for your character and aptitude.

5. Scope Out Your Options and Apply for Programs

There are many great programs out there to help you achieve your goal of graduating early from high school. ICON is one of those, as we offer options for all Idaho students looking to graduate early. Free online schools like ICON also offer advanced opportunities, including dual credits, technical competency credits, IB programs, and more.

This allows ambitious students to get ahead on college credits before they even start college. Whether you want to finish college quickly or know that you have a long program ahead of you, starting your higher education with credits already under your belt makes a world of difference. 

6. Make a Schedule and Stick to It

Once you’ve decided on a program and overall plan for early graduation, it’s time to make a schedule and stick to it. Ideally, the program you’ve chosen involves a flexible schedule. Because of this, it’s important to stay motivated and hold yourself accountable to your timeline. Take advantage of all the time you have, even if that means summer school. It will all be worth it once you get that diploma!


There are many different reasons why a student decided to finish high school early, but all those reasons meet on a similar path. What matters most is knowing what your motivation is and having a plan in place to make it happen. Familiarize yourself with graduation requirements, accelerated programs, advanced opportunities, and application processes. Make sure to manage your time well and ask for help when you need it.

Looking for a flexible program that will help you graduate early? ICON offers excellent flexibility for your unique needs and can provide you with the resources you need to graduate early (including a computer!). Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you on your journey to early graduation.

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