High School Graduation Requirements: What You Need Before May

Congratulations, you’re a senior in high school and your graduation is on the horizon. While you should use this time to celebrate your achievements (and avoid senioritis), there are a few requirements you’ll need to take care of for high school graduation in May or June to receive your diploma on time. Let’s take a look at these requirements to make sure you are all set to attend college in the fall.

Student who has met high school graduation requirements.

Complete Your General High School Graduation Requirements

To graduate high school, you must complete the right courses. This requirement will vary from state to state and even school to school, so it’s important to understand what your high school needs in order for you to meet your diploma requirements.

General high school graduation requirements typically look something like:

  • 4 Mathematic Credits
    • Algebra 1
    • Geometry
    • 2 electives
    • A computer science course may be substituted for 1 elective math credit

  • 4 English Credits
    • Freshman English
    • Sophomore English
    • Junior English
    • Senior English
    • AP and/or college credit English may be substituted for one of these English credits

  • 3 Science Credits
    • Biology 1
    • 2 elective
    • Two of the classes must have laboratory components
    • A computer science course or industry certification may be substituted for 1 elective science credit
  • 3 Social Studies Credits
    • World History
    • U.S. History
    • .5 Government
    • .5 Economics

  • 1 Arts Credit
  • 1 Physical Education Credit
  • 8 Elective Courses including Language
  • 1 Online Course

Students will also need to meet minimum GPA requirements and pass standardized tests for their state.

Other To-dos for Before Graduation

1. Meet with Your Guidance Counselor to Review High School Graduation Requirements

The last thing you want to do is find out in April that you missed a core class and will have to take the course in science this summer. By speaking with your guidance counselor as soon as possible, you can rectify any scheduling errors that could have occurred over the last four years. High school graduation requirements vary from state to state, so if you moved, you do want to make sure you’re on track for graduation, too.

Your guidance counselor will also work with you to ensure that any paperwork or forms required for graduation or your diploma are completed. Meeting them regularly during your senior year can help you avoid a lot of headaches!

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2. Complete Senior Project and Other Assignments

Some high schools require senior projects or other major assignments in order to graduate. Always check in with your teachers or guidance counselor to see if this is a requirement if you’re not sure. Some common graduation requirements can include volunteer work, community projects, portfolios, and presentations. 

3. Order Your Cap and Gown

Of course, you don’t want to walk to receive your diploma in your shirt and jeans! Almost all high schools will require you to order your cap and gown ahead of time to walk. Be sure to get your paperwork in before the deadline so it arrives in time!

4. Get Senior Photos Completed

Depending on where you go to school, this may be scheduled for you or you will have to submit your own pictures. Some high schools will simply lump senior photos in with photo day in September or October. Be sure you don’t miss this day. It could be difficult to get your picture into the yearbook if you skip it.

For schools that require outside senior photos, students and their families might have to require an independent photographer. If this is the case, students should look for a photographer who has experience shooting for senior and graduation photos and knows what schools and/or yearbooks are looking for. 

5. Attend Graduation Ceremony Rehearsal

While this isn’t a requirement to graduate high school, it is a requirement if you plan on walking for your high school graduation ceremony. Many schools will simply not allow you to attend if you skip the rehearsal. The practice session is also necessary so you know all the moves. High school graduation ceremonies are based on tradition, and if you’re out of step with your peers, it will be noticeable. You’ll know where you need to be when, where you need to sit, and where you need to go when your name is called.

6. Ensure Contact Information is Correct

You might not receive your true diploma during your high school graduation ceremony. If this is the case, you want to be sure that your contact information is correct with the school. Update any addresses or phone numbers so you can be sure your diploma will arrive in the mail in a few weeks.

7. Finish the Year Strong

It can be easy to start to slack on your school work once you’ve sent off your college applications especially after you’ve received an acceptance letter or two. Senioritis is real, but giving into this temptation can have dire consequences!

If you slack too much, you could fail a course and put your high school diploma in jeopardy. Without this diploma, you won’t be able to attend college in the fall. And even if you pass the course, if your grades suddenly drop dramatically, your future college may notice and rescind your acceptance letter. It can and has happened to students. Some universities and colleges will even request a mid-spring semester progress report to ensure your grades are on par with previous years. 

This is an exciting and busy time in your life, and the last thing you want to do is add more stress to your plate! By keeping track of your responsibilities and deadlines in a planner or on your calendar, you can ensure you are ready to graduate from your high school come May or June. It also can help set you up for success when it comes to college.

On top of your senior year responsibilities, you also need to be sure that you’re finding the college that is right for you. College Raptor’s College Match helps you do just that – with less hassle. Find out what it’s all about here.

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