Q. How do colleges view students who graduate a year early from high school? Is it a plus or a minus?
A. "It used to be that your best and brightest were finishing quickly," says Sunil Samuel, director of admissions at Hofstra University in Hempstead. But that's not always the case anymore.
A student graduating early should be sure to have taken honors and AP classes, he says. If a student is merely in a hurry to finish the minimum requirements and earns mediocre grades, he will have trouble being admitted to a college, he adds.
"When a university sees students who are not the best and brightest in their high schools, and now they are looking to come to college early, it raises a red flag," he says. "If they're not taking challenging course work in their high schools, will they be able to handle college-level work?" Samuel would want to see strong recommendation letters from a guidance counselor or principal assuring admissions staff an applicant is capable of meeting the challenge.
Also, a student graduating early will be younger than the average 17- or 18-year-old heading to college. "There's a maturity issue also," Samuel says. "We have to consider living in residential halls, the whole social aspect of college."
He advises students to consider the idea of early graduation thoroughly. "Talk extensively with your guidance counselor and also with colleges and universities you're interested in," Samuel advises. "Make it a very carefully thought-out decision. "