How I Graduated in January of my Senior Year
by Samantha Bruno-Tello, a high school student
Who am I?
My name is Samantha Bruno-Tello and I go to Bayside High School in Queens, NY. Well, for now. Depending on when you're reading this, I'm probably already attending the Spring Semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. Confused? Yeah, a lot of people usually are.
Long story short, it's all in the title: I, Samantha Bruno-Tello, am receiving my high school diploma by the end of January 2018, nearly five months earlier than the rest of my graduating class. I also am starting college at FIT three days after ending classes at high school. Hectic, I know. Usually, most people from my school who choose to graduate in January instead of June decide to use the extra six months on top of summer break to relax, travel, or get a job. They're smart. I, however, impulsively decided to start college. Right out of high school- literally.
What did you have to do?
So from the jump, my school generally assumes that you're going to want to graduate early. You don't necessarily HAVE to, but they're always making sure you know that option is available.
This means that they adjust your schedules accordingly, for the most part, to make sure you complete all the requirements for your High School Regents diploma in three years instead of four. One example for me was having to take double periods of global history in freshmen year; usually, everyone takes one period of global in freshmen year, and one in sophomore year. I also took at least one AP class every year. So basically, my schedule from freshmen through junior year was super packed.
Plus, Bayside is a school where they offer "get-ahead" classes during the summer, meaning you could take your electives over the span of one and a half months instead of during the entire normal school year. So I took Government & Economics the summer of my sophomore into junior year, and it was one of the easiest credits I could've earned. At Bayside, summer school wasn't just if you failed.
I talked to my guidance counselor around the end of my junior year and he informed me that I had enough credits to graduate in January if I wanted to. Bayside also allows us to graduate a whole year earlier than our normal graduating class, but I kind of decided too late. It was a very last minute decision, but it worked.
He said that he wasn't graduating me to my couch, which was reasonable. “Get a job, go travel, take some classes at a community college, do something.” Then, he said, “You know, you could also start college.” Like college college? Real college? “Yup, you could definitely start your spring semester.”
That meant potentially finishing college earlier, too, and getting a head start. Plus, if I used these six months as a break, I’d definitely lose all and every possible part of my work ethic. I didn’t need that happening.
So why not?
Then, I started the whole college application process much earlier than my peers- in May. I started contacting my teachers trying to look for recommendations, and I made my CommonApp account before summer break started. I was constantly emailing my teachers PLUS my guidance counselor throughout the summer, keeping tabs with those recommendations and also making sure that things were in line. I met up with my guidance before senior year started to talk about this year’s schedule- it wasn’t going to be too long.
One, I was graduating early and had already fulfilled my diploma requirements. Two, I had an internship for the fall semester so that counted as work study. I ended up only having to take a College Now English class, Precalculus and gym. An incredibly light schedule let me focus on college apps.
How did applying go?
There were some colleges that didn’t allow freshmen spring semester applicants, so I ended up having to get rid of them. My guidance counselor did explain that some colleges would allow me to defer my acceptance until the fall semester if I really wanted to. Like, if I got accepted into a college for the spring but I changed my mind and decided to start in the fall, some colleges would let me do that. Others, however, wouldn’t. I decided not to overcomplicate things. I was set on starting college in the spring.
A lot of people were telling me not to do it, that I’d be way too stressed out and busy and caught up with being both a senior and a freshman at the same time. It sounds really difficult, but it’s definitely manageable. I’m trying my hardest to achieve a lot of things, and I’m hoping that this choice will open a lot of doors and opportunities for me.