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Teen Wonders Whether to Graduate Early

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I'm thinking about graduating from high school and starting college early, but I can't decide whether I should put my education or my friendships and social life first. If I graduate early, I will probably not be with any of my friends, and I'm worried about feeling left out when I'm at college because everybody would be older than me. What should I do?

A: Dear Chrissy,

When I am confronting a tough decision such as yours, I tend to draw a line down the middle of a lined piece of composition paper. I list the actual and potential pluses of the decision on one side and the minuses on the other side. This tends to more clearly frame the basis of my decision.

I wouldn't worry about being somewhat younger than other kids as a college freshman. Any difference in chronological age at this time is insignificant and no one at the dorm asks you how old you are the first week of college. It only matters how you present yourself to others and how you treat your classmates that counts.

What are the benefits of leaving high school early, other than getting on with your college life a bit sooner? Unless of course you don't like your high school life at this stage (bored, restless, unchallenged) and would like to leave as soon as possible. In my opinion, getting a small head start in college isn't going to make a huge overall difference in your life. All things being equal, I'd say go with what your heart tells you on this one, Chrissy. That decision will be the right one.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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