Grace Whitney on Graduating Early

Katie Wang, News Editor

Why did you choose to graduate early?

 So I’m graduating early because I have already taken a lot of the courses that are offered at Ward Melville, and an extra year would really just consist of history, English, and science, plus whatever electives I managed to take. Ward Melville is fine, but compared to the experiences I could be having during that year, it’s really not worth staying for. Basically, I’m replacing my senior year with a much-cooler gap year. I guess you could say that I have early-onset senioritis, but really I have much less passion for schoolwork than for my other interests. Unsurprisingly, I guess.

What do you plan to do?

 That is a hard question because I haven’t actually figured it out yet. I know vaguely what I want to do – ever since I spent time in Germany learning German I’ve been fascinated by languages, which has steadily increased, especially when I spent four months in France in 9th grade. So, I’m planning on doing some kind of language immersion program, most likely in a new language family. The problem is, there are so many languages to choose from that I can’t decide. I may also return to Germany for a few months, since I’ve sadly forgotten a lot of German and I want to reinforce it. Either way, I have to decide soon, since I have to write about it in my college apps.

How you feel about graduating early?

I’m going to miss all my friends, of course. That’s certainly one of my biggest regrets. But, it was going to happen anyway, it’s only a difference of one year. Due to my planned gap year, we’ll be starting college at the same time anyway, so it’s not an irrevocable gap. Plus, in this day and age, it’s not exactly difficult to stay in touch 🙂 I’m also sad that all my extracurriculars are being cut a year short. I’ve been dancing for 13 years, and it’s going to be really weird not to have that anymore. It’s almost worth staying another year, but not quite. Same for Science Olympiad (SciO); I love it and I want another 2 full years, but it’s not worth staying in WM. There will be plenty of other really cool things for me to do. In terms of school itself, my only regret is missing out on some electives, but college has electives too and they’re probably more interesting. Someday I’ll get to take a ceramics course!

How did you manage to do it?

Actually managing it wasn’t that difficult; I’m already accelerated in math, and in any case you only need 3 years of math and science, so those weren’t a problem. For English, I skipped ahead a year and then I’m taking two semester-long electives to fulfill the credit, which is probably more fun than the normal progression would have been. Social studies is really the only sticking point, since I have to take both APUSH and Comparative this year, but I think I’ll manage. Funnily enough, both classes are in the same room in consecutive periods, so it’s a tad monotonous. Luckily it wasn’t too hard to convince the administration to let me do it. It’s a little weird being in mostly senior classes, but I have friends in both grades, so it’s ok. Unfortunately I don’t exactly get to have a senior schedule – I have 5 APs plus Multivariable calculus, and my only study hall is necessary to alternate with gym – but I guess that was kind of the point.

Do you have any regrets on making this decision?

I do wish I had been able to take at least one art class during my time at WM, but with only 2 years it was really impossible. People have asked me how I could decide to do this in 9th grade, before I was even in WM, but I pretty much knew what it would be like, and I think I made the right choice. It’s not that I think that life is a race, I just want to feel like I’m actually doing something worthwhile with my life, and being in a place with hall monitors doesn’t really qualify. I don’t regret that decision, but there are some definite disadvantages.