More high school students across North Carolina are considering graduating early every year, according to guidance counselor Michelle Wagaman. She is in charge of early graduation at Roberson and oversees which students are graduating early and their reasons as to why.
The average number of early graduates per year has previously been around 10 to 15, but this year,the number of students graduating early has reached around 35.
“Right now, we have a much larger list than we have had in the past four or five years, and I guess it has become a trend since there has been a little bit of an increase. It really depends on the student and their reason why they would want to do this. I have kids that are in situations where they have to get a job to support their family or to help pay for college, going to play a sport for a college or a university in the spring, or maybe because they are just done with high school,” Wagaman said.
To graduate early, students must reach all the requirements that are traditionally required to graduate at the end of the year. The counselors at TC Roberson ensure that students who are graduating early are aware of their available opportunities after graduation, which includes attending post-secondary education.
Colleges typically look for students who have reached their full potential before accepting them, so they pay special attention to the early graduates to make sure they have pushed themselves even though their high school career will end earlier than usual.
Seniors Emma Binns and Evan Lewis are graduating early this year because they both have committed to universities to play a sport. When Emma was only a junior, she committed to play volleyball at the University of Tennessee, and Evan Lewis, in his senior year, accepted a soccer scholarship to UNC Asheville. College coaches often view committed students who plan on graduating early as showing further commitment to the university and their individual sport.
“I wanted to graduate early so that I could start college at Tennessee in January and also to begin spring training with their volleyball team. I’m very happy about graduating early because I get to step into the next chapter of my life sooner,” Binns said.
Cat Jennings, who graduated from Roberson in 2014, also decided to graduate early. While others made the decision to graduate early because they committed to a collegiate sport or were responsible for supporting their families, Jennings decided to travel before beginning her college experience.
“I decided to graduate early because I had the opportunity to combine classes and put them into one semester instead of spreading them out over the whole year. After I graduated, I went to Haiti for a little while to work at an orphanage. I did plan to go to college, and I made sure that I had been accepted and made my decisions before leaving the country. Graduating early was an awesome option for me, and it gave me time to get out in the real world and experience life outside of TC before going straight to college,” Jennings said.