You stand, holding your breath, along with all of the others. Clad in cap and gown, they announce the graduating class of 2010, and you walk out into the cavernous auditorium. Some juniors will be joining senionr for the big day: graduation.
A few juniors have considered classes, requirements and futures to get to this moment, and will be walking out into that auditorium to graduate early.
Nathan Wright is one such junior.
"I have decided to graduate early because I want to pursue my dream of becoming an English teacher in Holland, and graduating early will allow me to adapt to the culture and language of Holland," Wright said.
Students may decide to graduate for a variety of reasons, whether it's due to programs, such as cosmetology, schools such as the Center of Technical Education, or family reasons.
However, it may be harder to get into college if you choose the early-grad path.
"Ultimately colleges want to see that you've finished your four years of high school, and unless you have some extenuating circumstances, you have to consider what will be beneficial to you in the end," said counselor Jennifer Johnson, who also works in the College and Careers Center.
For some the decision to graduate early comes easy and those students go on to college and jobs as usual; the only difference is that they are younger, and they are achieving what they set out to do.
This was the case for Wright. "I was a freshman at the time so it seemed so cliche to graduate in four years, when it can really be done in three," Wright said.
For those who graduate early, there is no doubt that they will miss out on all of the fun of senior year.
"[Those who graduate early] miss out on the social aspect of senior year, because everything fun happens second sememster," Johnson said.
According to Johnson, students may also struggle later when they enter college; they may struggle with a college-level math course, because they missed that year of math in high school. Students, depending on how early they plan, may also miss out on a college due to requirements that they didn't get before they left high school.
Students have to consider the social, academic and personal aspects, as well as if they are prepared to live on their own and ready to accept all of the responsibilities of the real world. If you are considering early graduation, first ask yourself this: are you ready for college and all of the responsibility that comes with being on your own, a whole year earlier?
You should also talk to parents, counselors, teachers and the College and Careers Center for advice. Before you made any decisions about early graduation, get advice and make a plan for the future you want to see yourself in; whether you want to work, go into the military, or go to college, options are out there.
"After graduation, I plan to get my teaching degree in English as well as my masters... and move to Zwijnrecht, South Holland," Wright said.
Basically, when you think about that cap, gown and auditorium in your distant, or near, future, it all comes down to one question: are you ready for life after high school?