Leaving high school early was the best decision I’ve ever made

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Elizabeth Saubestre, Staff Writer

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I never planned to attend college at 16. I was supposed to graduate at the slightly more reasonable age of 17, the age I will be turning in a couple of weeks, but I took a chance when an opportunity arose and haven’t looked back since.

I was always the kid who read books under the table during class. I remember my elementary school years by the novels I would tear through, an escape from the boredom I would face after completing assignments in 20 minutes.

When I finally made my way to ninth grade, school continued to be a largely under-stimulating experience. That isn’t to say all aspects were awful. I joined theater and choir, founded a club and had some truly incredible teachers I feel lucky to have known.

Yet, I still wanted something more out of my schooling.

Instead of the taking the traditional route, dual enrollment offered a solution to the underwhelming high school experience. On the big screen, movies like “16 Candles” and “The Breakfast Club” paint a glamorous picture of the bustling high school life that many students anticipate, but I didn’t personally experience.

I had hesitations about leaving high school when I did. Though I hate to admit it, I have an uncharacteristic love for high school movies. There was a part of me that was worried I was robbing myself of the chance to go to prom, get coffee with my friends before school, or find my soulmate through a series of awkward yet adorable interactions like the movies.

Being in class often felt like a waste of my time, but I’m still a Type-A overachiever who genuinely loves to learn. I wanted to succeed and get into a good school, but I was stifled by teachers said they didn’t give out grades above an A minus as preparation for the so-called “real world.” This led to a lot of unneeded anxiety and, combined with a school that simply wasn’t right for me, forced me to look into different options.

That’s how I found out about dual enrollment. I was able to graduate earlier than expected after  adding on to the heavy course load I was already taking. Instead of being a high school senior, I am in my first year of being a full-time college student.

It didn’t help to have my guidance counselor, relatives, doctors, and seemingly everyone I told about my plans ask the same question.

“How are you going to have friends? How will you socialize?”

My answer to that, “surprisingly easily.”

I’ve managed to spend time with many great people since graduating high school, and much to my relief, prom hasn’t come up once. I have been able to get coffee with friends before school, something I couldn’t do when my classes started at 8 a.m.

My age rarely comes up either, except for the few times that people have looked at me and said “I always forget you’re 16,” before continuing whatever we were doing at the time. I feel less isolated now than I did while in high school, and I’ve regained most of confidence that I lost during that time.

I know that this path isn’t right for everyone. Some people can feel that doing dual enrollment or similar programs made it harder for them to socialize, and that made them feel like the whole thing wasn’t worth it.

It’s been worth it for me.

I’ve been more selective with what I learn, no longer thrown into the same history class as all of the other freshmen. I can use my time more wisely, and I’ve been able to explore different fields.

Drastically lessening my anxiety about college rejections, the application system will be drastically different as it would have been as a senior, and I’ll have guaranteed admission to at least one UC.

I would choose this path again if I had the chance without a doubt. Not everything’ comes easy,  and I’ll never have the chance to have a perfect high school story, but nobody does.

Not even Molly Ringwald.

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