Early graduation from high school/ college

I am a high school sophomore taking several college classes. I am set to graduate high school at the end of my junior year with 49 college credit hours. I will be able to graduate from my local private college after one year of attendance ( with summer courses) with a pre-med major and behavioral neuroscience minor. Will doing this hurt my chances of getting into a prestigious graduate school?

If you want to go to med school I wouldn’t graduate early from high school. And I wouldn’t rush through college either.


So this is a pretty complex question. First of all, congrats on your credentials, it is certainly very impressive that you were able to do all this at such a young age.

Basically, the reason most people recommend against early graduation is because of a couple of reasons. First, most likely, students are usually unable to have tangible impact (establish leadership positions, show proven track record in extracurriculars, engage in intense coursework etc…) in less years. However, if you believe you have met that, great, graduate early.
For early HS graduation, if you’re aiming for semi-selective or not that selective schools, early graduation is not that big a deal.
For early college graduation, I would recommend no less that 3 years at whatever campus you chose to attend. You will need that time to do research, gain leadership, shadow, have meaningful relationships with professors for LoRs, engage in clinical experiences etc… But yes, I would consider early graduation for sure.

Main point is, you compress and accelerate your journey, and if you’re aiming to go straight through, it will be tough but certainly doable! Hope this helps :))


So you want to do HS + college in 4 years and go straight into an MD or PhD program? For both you will need high marks and strong LoRs.

If you are applying to med school “prestigious” isn’t really as big a thing, unless you are aiming for a research-focus. You will need all the usual pre-req classes (eg, a full year each of college-level bio, physics, chem & ochem; note that some med schools are particular about whether they are taken at a community college), and depending on the med school there are often other desired classes (eg, psych, sociology). You will also need strong MCAT scores, and substantial medical-environment work experience is pretty much essential. Finally, you will want to look at the AAMC’s list of 15 “competencies” that they expect entering med students to have (Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students | AAMC). AOs will look to your experience, essays, interviews & LoRs for evidence of those competencies.

If you are applying for a PhD, in addition to a relevant UG degree you will need research experience. I know of at least 1 top neuroscience PhD programs says that research experience is not required- but irl vanishingly few students will get in w/o research experience or something really outstanding in their application. You also need a “Statement of Purpose” which outlines your research interests and how they fit with the program(s) you are applying to. IRL it is challenging to write a compelling SoP w/o any research experience.

There are a few students who are ready to do clear these hurdles at 18, but obviously I have no idea if you are one of them.

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The short answer is, Yes, absolutely it will “hurt” your chances for professional and grad school.

US allopathic med schools will discount your grades taken in community college. To strengthen your app, they’ll want to see upper division STEM courses taken at a four-year college in which you receive top grades.

And, as has been pointed out, top PhD programs require research on your CV, and it will be nearly impossible to obtain that research in your one year of college+summer sessions.


Honestly, it can really hurt your chances. When a medical school sees a 19 year old applicant who sprints through a degree in a year, assuming that’s even possible, the first thing that’s going to come to mind is “quick burnout.” Medical school is a marathon, and they want to see medical students who have a track record of going the distance.

Growing-up is something happens over time as you develop. You can’t rush it. The emotional difference between a 15 year old and an 18 year old is HUGE! Also, only a small fraction of “premed” freshmen actually decide medical school. College is a maturation process, and you find hidden passions as you explore different things.

My advice…slow down and enjoy being a teenager. Just don’t blow anything up :slight_smile:

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My boys all finished high school at the end of their senior years with between 50 and 60 AP college credits. They all majored in engineering in college (aerospace, biomedical, and materials). Many engineering majors take 4.5 to 5 years to graduate. With the extra credits, they were all able to also minor in some other interesting non-STEM areas, graduate on time, and have time for some fun. All three went on to grad school at top universities.

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