Posted by ICON School on Jan 12, 2021 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.

How to Plan for an Early Graduation

There are specific steps you have to take to graduate early, and it’s important to understand what those are to help you concoct a plan.

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.

2. Identify Which Courses and the Number of Credits You Will Need to Take

Meet with a school guidance counselor to determine which courses you will need to take to graduate early. If there is a specific school you want to earn your diploma from, there may be courses or a certain number of credits that are required for graduation 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. Get Your Hands on Your Current Transcripts and Recommendation Letters

To get into an accelerated program, you will likely need to provide your current academic transcripts and recommendations. Ask your current school to provide you with 3-5 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.

4. 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. 

Common Reasons to Graduate Early from High School

There are a plethora of reasons that high school students choose to graduate early, and most of them boil down to the desire to get a jumpstart on life after high school. Here are a few reasons that others (and maybe you) choose to graduate early:

1. “High school isn’t enough of a challenge, but college (or a trade school) would be, and that’s the direction I’m headed.”

We hear this one a lot from students who have enrolled in ICON’s programs. A lot of high school students find themselves unchallenged and many times even bored by the level of education their local high schools offer. They are just counting down the days until they can thrive in an elevated academic environment like college or to get a hands-on practical experience from a trade school.

2. “I’m ready to start my career as a [doctor, zoologist, engineer, etc.], but I still have years left before I can start college courses to get my life on that track.”

Many high school students know what they want to do with the rest of their lives before they can even make the decision official. They also know that what they’ve decided on could take many years of study and training, and they want to get ahead.

Advanced Opportunities pave the way for students that face this dilemma! Through Idaho’s Fast Forward program, Idaho students can work at the pace that makes the most sense for their life and career goals.

3. “I want a little extra time to explore career options before I choose my field of study”

Choosing a college major is a big decision. Some young people want try on education or career paths by taking a semester or two to pursue opportunities, such as:

  • Internships
  • Volunteering
  • Job Shadowing
  • Class Auditing

It can take a little time to discover which direction you want to go with your life and career. Better to take that time before you start paying tuition to ensure you are on a path you'll want to stick with long-term.

Whatever the reason that drives you to finish high school early, it’s important that you have a plan in place to do so.


To graduate early, you need to have a plan in place as soon as possible. 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.

There are a multitude of reasons why a student may decide to finish high school early, but all of those reasons meet on a similar path. Use your ambition to make the most of your time in high school. 

ICON offers excellent flexibility for your unique needs and can provide you with the resources you need to make it happen (including a computer!). So, if you’re looking to finish high school early to get a jumpstart on college or trade school, or join the workforce, we can help you do just that! Contact us today to receive more information and to request an enrollment packet to get started on your journey to early graduation.

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