California High School Proficiency Exam
The exam acts as the equivalent of a high school diploma; if a student passes, they are no longer legally bound to attend high school as long as their parents approve.
December 13, 2017
PRO: The highway out of high school
High school, while billed by some as the best four years of one’s life, can often feel like just the opposite. Students may feel as if they are wasting time in class when they could be pursuing a passion instead. Thus, it should be no surprise that students occasionally choose to test out of high school. Instead, it should be more shocking that more do not.
The test is open to students who are at least 16 or in the second semester of their sophomore year. While they are not guaranteed admission to college, the exam nonetheless opens up numerous doors for students.
First of all, students can reduce the time they spend in formal education. High school students with enough credits to attend college early, gained through courses at local community colleges or online, can potentially graduate college years in advance and save money.
Students can attend community college for two years immediately after passing the exam, saving two years worth of a college tuition. They would also have more time to gain experience in the job market than their peers, and those that see higher education as a gateway into the professional world would have the chance to find a career as early as possible.
In addition, students would have more time to pursue passions not found in a traditional high school classroom setting. Early graduates have the option of devoting entire years to working toward their dreams instead of being limited to summer internships. They have the chance to work closely with professionals in a field of their interest for longer than a traditional high school student would be able to, and this may land them a job or future research opportunities.
Students could use the remaining two years they would normally spend in high school as gap years. This would allow students to explore potential careers or majors and get a better idea of what field they would like to study than would be available through a traditional high school education.
Other than internships, students can also look for volunteering opportunities abroad in order to learn more about foreign cultures and help communities.
This work can give them an edge in the job market or when applying to colleges, since they will have much more experience than their peers.
Some may argue a gap year is detrimental to students because they would lose guidance and motivation, ultimately falling short of their goals. Yet, students graduating early are likely to be much more motivated than their peers. Their decision to test out of high school would likely be fueled by a desire to learn outside the classroom, and they would have a clear plan in mind to follow.
In the end, the choice to graduate early is a strictly personal choice. While this path out of high school may not be right for everyone, it is not be as detrimental as some believe.
CON: A traditional school experience
Whether it is being on the sports team, playing for the school band, attending prom or even graduating with your friends, high school offers many shared experiences. Those who decide to graduate early will be missing out on all of these.
Although the option of getting out of school earlier is available with the California High School Proficiency Exam, it is not necessarily the best choice. Many students who are geared toward taking the road to graduating early fail to recognize the benefits of staying in high school.
While many students graduate early eager to start working on projects they are passionate about, the reality is that many of the dreams and aspirations they had will start to fade as they begin to realize how hard it is to work without any real deadlines or structure. People start to get lazy due to lack of self motivation, a skill learned through high school with time.
Graduating early also limits a student’s choice of colleges. For example, the UC system requires fifteen college preparatory courses in the “A to G” courses, such as four years of English and three years of mathematics prior to application.
Students who desire to enter such a university would have to attend community college to complete their prerequisites, defeating the purpose of beginning their higher education earlier. Additionally, most universities do not see early graduation as a positive.
Skipping a year of school may not seem like much, but students will enter college socially unprepared. Students will be facing a whole new level of freedom and confronting issues that they have never encountered before. It is not a secret that college is the time where people discover their limits with drinking and try to experience new things. Early graduates could face peer pressure and, due to their immaturity, may fail to make rational decisions in compromising situations. Another factor worth considering is that they could feel out of place due to the age gap between them and other students, which can make them social outcasts.
Also, some students are just not ready for the level of independence needed in college. While teachers in high school have around 40 students per class, college classes can be as large as 200 students, leaving little one-on-one time with teachers. This quick transition can be difficult for students at a young age, as some students require the extra push that high school teachers provide compared to the independent work that college professors expect.
While the state’s early graduation program opens up options to students who want to graduate and take on the college life earlier, there are many drawbacks to consider. Students should take their time to fully mature in high school to avoid making hasty decisions and see what truly benefits them in the long run.