I think graduate indicates only a university graduate in British English, but in American English can it perhaps also suggest a high-school graduate as well?

Could anyone tell me something about that?

  • 6
    We simply say “high school graduate”.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 10:58
  • 1
    @Dan Bron is it an American way of calling that or British way?
    – Angyang
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 11:02
  • 3
    In UK we don't have "high school" as a general type of school, although some have that in their name, for example "Stamford High School". So "high school graduate" is an AmE term. In UK students who are at secondary school "leave school". For example "Pete left school at age 18 with three A-levels". But "Peter graduated from Cambridge University with a First". Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 11:13
  • 1
    Just to reiterate what @WeatherVane said, there is no "graduation" ceremony for (secondary) school leavers in the UK. In fact, in Scotland, final exam results don't usually arrive until August, but school finishes in June/July, so you don't even know what you've achieved/passed until AFTER you've left school.
    – Pam
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 11:24
  • 4
    FYI, In the USA (AmE), "leave school" would suggest that the person dropped out, i.e. left school without graduating/completing the course of study.
    – Damila
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 14:06

2 Answers 2


I speak AmE, but I have encountered the term school-leaver or school leaver in BrE and AuE writings.

Collins Dictionary defines school leaver:

School leavers are young people who have just left school, because they have completed their time there.

Cambridge Dictionary defines school-leaver:

a young person who is about to leave or has just left secondary school

  • So every day at 3:30 the school-leavers get on the bus for their trip home??
    – Jim
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 0:59
  • To avoid ambiguity, see the "ha, ha" comment above, perhaps you could add that "leaving school" is someone who finishes studying or abandons school to enter employment.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 6:47

We (UK) don't "graduate" from secondary (high) school as there is no simple pass or fail result.

However, the trend of "graduation" at all states of education is spreading in the UK.

Little Ladybirds nursery in Stockton-on-Tees in the North East of England has offered graduations since 2011. ... Kindergarten graduation has been an event in the US since at least the 1960s,


Do four-year-olds need a graduation ceremony? Justin Parkinson, BBC News Magazine, 23 July 2014

Scottish schools do, however, award a dux to one pupil (and maybe a semi-dux to a second) but this is not usually solely based on exam results.

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