Bribing students out of high school

It’s often said that money can’t buy happiness. But can it buy back high school memories for students in Idaho?

Recently, lawmakers in Idaho have proposed giving scholarships to high school students who enroll in college early, according to the Associated Press.

Eight other states have similar programs that allow sophomores to pass several tests in order to graduate early. Utah even proposed a law allowing students to skip their senior year of high school.

Idaho’s plan however, goes even further. Under its projected plan, students could graduate up to three years early and receive $1,600 for every year to go toward tuition costs at a community college or state university.

While the money is enticing, it seems as though Idaho is pressuring its students to rush through education.

“No one’s really tried this,” Mike Griffith, a policy analyst at the Education Commission on the States, said in a CBS News article. “If (students are) ready to go to college in the 11th grade they should be allowed to go to college, states need to start thinking about that.”

But what happened to getting involved in high school?

There will always be a few prodigy students who are out of college by the time they’re 10 (remember “Doogie Howser, MD?”), but the rest should be enjoying the high school years they’ll never get back.

Under Idaho’s plan, students wouldn’t have time to try out for sports teams, join clubs, run for student council or even go to prom.

Then there’s the issue of universities trying to juggle the influx of minors enrolling at their schools. Many state universities, like ASU for example, are already expanding to accommodate for the increase in student population every year.

Now imagine tacking on the youngsters who hurried their way through high school. What if they want to live on campus? Will there be room to house them? Are universities (and students) ready to have 15-year-olds living among 20-year-olds?

“If the point is to challenge the student then we need to be offering more rigorous classes for even our most advanced students,” said Larry Rother, principal at Higley High School in Gilbert.

Most high schools are incorporating dual enrollment courses, classes which can be taken in high school but count as college credit from a local community college. With this system, students get the best of both worlds. They can engage themselves in high school activities, but are also being academically challenged while getting ahead for college.

First-time enrolling freshmen are likely to be considered for merit-based scholarships upon entering the university. They can still be enticed by money savings like the early graduating plan promises, but they would also lose some precious high school memories.

Not only that, but attending high school through senior year gives students the opportunity to hold part-time jobs and start saving some money to help pay for their college educations.

Idaho’s proposal has already passed through the State House and now awaits approval from the Senate. Hopefully the Gem State will realize the bribery it’s offering is just going to deprive its high school students from having those years to look back upon and reminisce about.

Reach Monique at monique.zatcoff@asu.edu


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.