Early Graduation: Summer Matthews Walks as a Junior

Tara Martin | Web Editor-in-Chief

Most students will spend four years in high school, graduate at 18, and move on with their lives from there. For junior Summer Matthews, however, “everybody else is not me.”

In only a week and some change, Matthews will be walking across the stage at graduation a year earlier than her classmates. Matthews said the decision to graduate one year early appealed to her for a number of reasons, one of which being that college would cater better to her preferred style of learning independently.

“College is more you taking charge of your own learning and doing your own investigating and taking control of what’s really going to be your life,” Matthews said. “Nobody’s going to hold your hand in college and make sure you’re doing your homework.”

Before committing to the idea of graduating early, Matthews tried out different paths such as online school before deciding to stick with the Avon teachers she knows and trusts.

“I actually took some online classes in the [Online Learning Center] here, I took some online over the summer, and I had mixed experiences,” Matthews said. “I had a great teacher and I had a really absent teacher. I didn’t really want to take the chances of ‘what am I going to get? What kind of education am I actually going to be coming out with?’”

While Matthews is excited about her future and college, she said that throughout the process of preparing to leave high school early, she had her fair share of doubts.

“It wasn’t a whole lot of ‘actually, I’m not ready for this,” Matthews said. “It was more just being anxious, ‘what if I fail?”

Guidance Department Chair Judy Garcia said that for a junior graduate, the planning process ideally begins in the spring of their sophomore year when scheduling the next year’s classes.

“Many times we’ll have a guidance counselor down in the ALC work with that student, so we would want to make sure that they understand the process for applying colleges,” Garcia said. “They get their financial aid FAFSA form turned in and completed on time, any deadlines related to college applications, scholarship applications, ordering your cap and gown.”

Garcia said that while Avon High School’s class of 2019 will host 13 junior graduates, the most the school has ever had, she still typically recommends a four year graduation path.

“I think colleges still would prefer students stay in school for four years, and take rigorous courses that would continue to prepare them for college,” Garcia said.

After a school year filled with both junior and senior classes, applying to college, and convincing her parents, Matthews said that graduating early was the right decision for her.

“I was the biggest push [to graduate early] because I knew I wanted to do it, so I was going to whether someone told me I could or not,” Matthews said. “There were a lot of people who have just been like, ‘that’s not right, you’re not a real senior, you don’t need to be doing this.’”

As Matthew’s time at Avon comes to a close and college approaches, Matthews said that she is all too ready to begin working towards her psychology degree at IUPUI.

“I ended up being a direct admit to the science program, so I’m going to be living on the STEM floor with all the other honors students, and I’m really excited to get to work with people who have goals and are ready to start working towards those goals,” Matthews said. “…I know what I want to do and I want to get started right now.”

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