Tuesday, May 01, 2012
High school, only shorter
A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a feature ("High school, only shorter") on the handful of states that now give scholarships to students who complete high school early. If it takes you three years instead of four, the state is saving cash. So why not split that bounty, and give a small scholarship to be used to start college? Indiana, Minnesota, Utah, South Dakota and Idaho all have programs that create an incentive for kids to start college early. I love this idea, and it may be working. According to stats from the WSJ article, some 2.9% of students who were sophomores in 2002 graduated from high school in three years or less, vs. 1.5% in the 1990s. The availability of online classes is helping this (since that's how many students earn the additional credits -- or through summer school). The "pros" are obvious: if you've finished high school, why stick around? It's time to move on to more challenging work, or to start your working life earlier. What was most fascinating to me, though, were the "cons" the journal listed, which show how entrenched the idea is that high school is just part of American life. What about prom? What about senior class trips? Perhaps students will be "socially or emotionally unprepared for college" and, of course, graduating early "requires more work." I get the hesitation. We live in an increasingly fractured society. Experiences like prom or homecoming and the supposed glory of senior year are some of the few universals we still have. From the vantage point of dull jobs, bills, and the responsibilities of raising families, people like to look back and view ages 17-18 as the best years of their lives. But prom is a relatively recent tradition. And as Nicholas Myers of Indiana, now enrolled in Ball State, told the WSJ, "Nowadays we have CEOS in their 20s... If I get out a year early, that's a year extra of pay... That's a whole year of my time that I can do whatever I want -- make some money, invest some money or just relax." Exactly. For all the worry about "hurried" childhoods, I see no reason to prolong it if the child is ready to grow up. But I'm curious what other people think. Do you have fond memories of your senior year of high school? Do you think your children will?