Some January graduates say they need to earn money for college; others are 'so done' with high school and ready to step into university life.
South Milwaukee High School is among those in metro Milwaukee that allow January graduations, and it has seen the numbers grow since changing its credit requirements and class scheduling a few years ago.
All we spoke with, Rachel Rosploch, Serena Hinojosa, Lois Applegate, Susan Yang, Amberae Northrop, Nicholas Hofmann and Olivia Oddis, plan to attend college, and most say they need to save money beforehand because of the expense of higher ed.
Their concerns include missing friends and final semester activities - such as spirit week, though a few say high school traditions never meant much to them.
Guidance Counselor George Cleveland says January graduates who are mature and have a well-constructed plan for themselves can succeed - even if college begins just a day or two after high school ends. However, he says others return for the ceremony in June and tell him they wish they had remained in high school until then. Some are not ready for the unstructured life college abruptly delivers.
For those who want to graduate a semester early, Cleveland says there's no slumping. They must stay on top of their academics. Some seniors say high schools that allow early graduation should inform freshmen, so they can plan accordingly and not 'slide', their first few semesters.
In permitting early graduation, South Milwaukee requires parents to sign a form - unless the student is 18 years old. A counselor must verify adequate credits while an administrator talks to each student about reasons for wanting to finish early. This year, nearly three-dozen filed the necessary paperwork. Many districts do not allow January graduation.