• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products Here!

Terminating High School Career

  • Thread starter dtl42
  • Start date
  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

So, I am a sophomore at a Math/Science Magnet school and I am considering applying to colleges a year early and relinquishing my right to obtain a high school diploma. I scored 2300+ on the SAT I. I also have 800s on the necessary SAT IIs, so the standardized testing crap is out of the way. I would be applying after my next year of high school.
My reasons for wanting to do this are fairly simple. I will effectively run out of math and science courses to take and will thus waste a year (academically) in terms of those subjects. I am currently in Calculus II, and independently studying Multi-variable Calculus through the University of Texas - Austin. I have taken/ am taking Honors Chemistry, Honors Biology, and Honors Physics. Next year (11th grade), my schedule will appear as so:

English III
US History II
Java/3d Modeling
Independent Study math -they give me a free period and tell me to learn on my own
AP Physics C - Mechanics (know most of it already from studying on my own)
AP Physics C - E&M
AP Chemistry

That leaves no rigorous sciences or maths left to take senior year, only classes in Humanities, which many students at my school often call "nap classes".
I also play two sports for a local high school, lacrosse and wrestling, I would like to pursue these at a D3 level in college. I have competed in math contests and physics contests, and will likely (hopefully) make USAMO and be a USAPHO semifinalist in 11th grade.

I plan on applying to Caltech and MIT. Any input would be very appreciated.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Doc Al
Can't you just arrange to graduate a year early? (That's what I did.)
  • #3
Well, my school, being a Magnet school, requires each student to take 4 years of technical education, be it 3D Cad, or Architecture, but doesn't allow students to take extra loads of these per year, or gain credit over the summer. It's a huge pain, but thats life right?
  • #4
Doc Al
Yes, that's unfortunate. (My HS was only too happy to get rid of me--I was a pain in the butt!)

I'm not sure what the implications are for not actually graduating HS. If the schools you are applying to don't care, and they accept you anyway, then I'd say it doesn't matter. Better find that out first!

Perhaps some of the academics here will chime in with some advice.
  • #5
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Highly competitive colleges and universities look at more than grades and classes taken. One of the other facts is, for lack of a better term, maturity.

Deciding at 15 that you have nothing more of utility to learn in high school may be a mature, informed decision, but it's probably not. Usually people at the beginning of a process - educational or otherwise - accept the advice of people who have gone through it on what they need to know.

One of the first things incoming students at places like MIT or Caltech learn is that they are not as smart as they thought they were. This can be quite a shock to people who have always been the best academically and find themselves not only in the bottom half (and fully 50% end up in the bottom half) but struggling to keep their heads above water. In this environment, maturity helps.

They will look very closely at the letters you get from your teachers, particularly your Humanities teacher. You need them to say, "unusually mature for his age", and you need them not to say, "he's already decided he doesn't need to know this", as that is a big red flag.

Yes, MIT and Caltech want smart students. But they want students who are going to succeed more.
  • #6
geez. Do you have eagle scout yet?

Graduating a year early wouldn't be terrible, since it seems there's little left for you to accomplish.
  • #7
To prevent having to take classes you don't want to, is there any possibility you could arrange with the school to have more independent study periods? I'm aware of one very bright physicist who finished everything he felt was interesting in high school by 16 but had to wait until he was 17 as a condition of entry to university. He spent the year in the physics and chemistry labs honing his experimental skills. If you can get all your time table filled with independent study periods then maybe you could do the same?

As another thought, perhaps you could remain registered as a student there whilst also registered at a university? You'd have to find a way to sell that idea to the school but it might be possible.

Apply to Caltech and MIT and see what happens - there's no harm in applying and you can decide later.
  • #8
Several years ago, I recall reading the obituary of a researcher who was apparently very well-known in his field. He had dropped out of high-school to go to college, and then he had dropped out of college to go to grad school. At one point, he was having difficulty with his Ph.D. thesis and was despairing that if he didn't manage to finish, he would have completed no formal education at all!

Of course he did finish eventually, and all was right with his world.

So I suppose that the lesson is that yes, you can skip rungs on the academic ladder, but be very very careful...
Last edited:
  • #9
Well, yea that's one thing I am worried about. But I looked into it and New Jersey grants Diploma's if you show appropriate scores on the HSPA and at least 30 college credits. So it shouldn't be a problem getting that taken care of after a year or so.
  • #10
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
Gold Member
Take more college-level courses... or get involved in research somehow
[possibly for an Intel or Siemens competition: https://www.physicsforums.com/blog/2007/03/15/intel-science-talent-search-2007-winners/ [Broken] ]
You might seek advice from the department at UTAustin.
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #11
Go that extra mile and do more extracurricular activities. If you're school won't allow early graduation, then take that time to build up your non-academic stuff.

There are some things in life that cannot be measured in numbers and letters.
  • #12
Well, my school, being a Magnet school, requires each student to take 4 years of technical education,[...]
Have you formally asked the school or district administration for a waiver of that policy?
  • #13
could you let your administration know that you plan to o on to study math / science. Thus will be exposed to plenty of "technical education" classes. You will need to take classes in comp. programing in college if you do math, physics, or computer science ( I'm not sure if it is required for chem or bio majors)

If you do need to stick it out another year one thin to do is hone your writing skills. Take advanced English and History classes. Try do learn to write very well as that is often a skill people lack after high school, and sadly sometimes even after college. If you go into academia or research for maths / sciences you will need to publish papers and will need good writing skills.

Related Threads for: Terminating High School Career