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How Old Were You When You Graduated from High School?

RT Cunningham | August 3, 2020 (UTC) | Education

high schoolIf you actually graduated from high school (and didn’t get an equivalency diploma of some kind), how old were you when you graduated?

I’m curious because, in the Philippines, the average age used to be 16 - six years of elementary school and four years of high school. When I was working at a military recruiting station (18 to 22 years ago), we were constantly sending transcripts to headquarters to be approved for conversion to American standards.

That changed several years ago, as I’ll explain shortly.

High School Graduation Ages in the United States

American students graduate from high school at various ages, depending on what age they started school. That itself depends on the rules of specific school districts. It varies by state, county and city. I graduated at the age of 17 (and joined the military while I was still 17) because I started Kindergarten at the age of four.

The rule for my school was that if you turned five by a certain date, you could start that year. Otherwise, you had to wait a year. That same school later changed that rule. No one graduates at 17 from that school district anymore.

I don’t know if Kindergarten is required for all students, but I know all students are required to attend eight years of elementary school and four years of high school. Some elementary years may be called “middle school” or “junior high school”. In some places, a graduation ceremony takes place upon completion of the eighth grade, but not everywhere.

I lived in Hawaii when I completed the eighth grade in 1974 and there was no graduation ceremony. My siblings lived in Arizona when they completed the eighth grade, and they all had graduation ceremonies.

My late father only completed six years of elementary school. I don’t know how far education went back then as it was in the 1930s. My late mother, however, completed eight years of school and that was in the 1940s. At some point, high school started as secondary education much like college is secondary education today. I doubt that it was mandatory like it is now.

Since a high school education wasn’t required for most occupations until after World War II (and only for certain age brackets), I often wonder what purpose it serves to go to high school. Why not complete elementary school and then go straight to college, if you can afford it? Half the classes in high school seem to be electives and the other half seem to be repeating and reinforcing elementary subjects.

High School Graduation Ages in the Philippines

Filipino students graduate high school at various ages, but more than the age at first school enrollment is a reason. Since parents used to have to pay for all education in the Philippines, it’s not unusual to find people who graduated from high school after they were in their twenties. Years at a time got skipped.

What is the lowest age a Filipino can graduate from high school? It used to be 15, with an average age of 16. If you think that’s odd, there were college graduates with four-year degrees who were only 19. The average age is now 18, like it is in the United States.

Several years ago (I don’t remember dates very well), the Philippines added two more years to the education cycle, both to high school (which makes sense to them but not to me) as part of a new K-12 program. The 11th and 12th years are called “moving up”. I’m guessing grades 7 to 10 are the freshman to senior years.

Graduation Ages in Other Countries

I have to admit that I know next to nothing about education in countries other than the Philippines and the United States. I’ve read articles here and there, such as how Japanese education is more intense than the education in the United States, but that’s about it.

The Korean students coming to the Philippines for ESL (English as a second language) training look exceptionally young, but that could be just an appearance thing. In fact, most Asian students look younger than their non-Asian counterparts.

That’s it. That’s all I know. I’d be interested to hear how it works in other areas of the world.

Image Attribution: Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
Originally published at one of my other websites in October 2014.

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