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    JonA Offline OP
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    Hi,
    I was wondering if anyone here has had experience with early college entrance and radical acceleration? Out son is entering full time high school next year and is 3-4 years ahead of his chronological age in his courses. While he will just have turned 12, most of his classes as a freshman will be with juniors and seniors. At his current pace, he'll probably graduate by age 14. While his grades and SAT scores (and even extracurriculars) would easily qualify him to be Ivy bound, I have heard that most top selective schools don't like to admit younger students. Quite frankly that is just fine by us, since we're not sure socially it would be the right fit (probably 16 would be OK, but not 14) to live in a dorm with "adults". There are a number of top 25-50 schools in our area accessible by public transportation (since he's too young to drive) that would probably be academically OK as a day student. The problem is that I sort of feel as though we would be depriving our son of the experience of a really top school by forcing him to be a commuter as a lesser school than he would be able to attend as a regular 18 year old. If we took the commuter student options,we are assuming that he could wait and attend a very selective school as an 18 year old grad student. I'd really appreciate it if anyone else in a similar situation could share their experiences. Thanks!

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    My daughter took an English Comp. class last semester as a 13 year old. She was testing the waters for doing more college courses. She did fine with the class in terms of grades etc. She felt awkward during some discussions because she did not have the life experience that some of the students had. There was a discussion regarding poverty and some of the people in the class were single moms and had used food stamps etc. She felt her opinions could not stand up to the "life experience" she was hearing about. I think she was a bit turned off by that. Maybe classes that do not have that kind of discussion would have been better. My daughter can pass as a college student as she is tall etc. Before you make a decision maybe you could do a trial run in a class at the school you might use and see how he likes it?

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    I took college courses starting at 16, and my boyfriend was a grad student at 19. Honestly, he was sort of maladjusted, and I think he still is some 30 years later. I don't know how much of that was the academic experience and how much was him, though. I didn't have a problem, and I went to MIT for undergrad and grad school.

    What does your son think about this? Maybe he would be better off writing video games for a couple of years between high school and college, or traveling, or something? I do think that the very selective schools would be just as hesitant to accept an 18-year-old grad student as a 14-year-old freshman.

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    JonA -
    Welcome, glad that you asked. My son is 2E so we haven't had to face this in our family, but we know many people who have -
    1) If you want to keep the door open to being a Freshman at a super-selective school at 16, the key is to 'homeschool' that last little bit of Highschool, so that he doesn't officially graduate at 14, but can be a 'dual enrolled' high school student. That way he can take local day classes to his heart's content without having to try and enter a super-select school as a transfer student, which is much harder and less financial aid.
    2) There are amazing schools that he could attend and live on campus at a very young age and get a lot out of because they are so structured
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._John's_College_(United_States)
    comes to mind. Particularly if he is more interested in the Humanities Path.
    3) If he is more interested in STEM, then getting involved with local research is a way to go.
    4) Log on to College Confidential and take a look at the schools that you think might be a good social-emotional match and see what good candidates are looking like. That might give you an idea of some activities you child would find rewarding. I'm NOT saying you should try and shape him into what you think the college might like, more that, since it is a good social/emotional fit, you may find great ideas to pick from.
    5) Summer programs are a great way to get with real peers. Advertised age isn't always the same a real age. I was just reading see question #13
    http://www.hcssim.org/faq.html
    If you child hasn't done THINK summer program, a wonderful one.
    6) It's still so early. You child will probably develop at least one major new interest in the next 2 years. Perhaps it will be in an extracurricular area. You will get to see if his 'organizational skills' and 'physical stamina' are up to doing work with kids at plus 4 chronological age. Or maybe he'll still be so underplaced that you won't really get a chance to know, but it's a start.
    7) Look for a mentor at one of the commuting distance schools so he'll have some intellectual companionship along the way.
    8) Join DYS and get on their listserve for early college - there are very kind parents there who can answer specific programs about specific places.

    Hope that helps,
    Keep us posted
    Grinity


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    Originally Posted by JonA
    If we took the commuter student options,we are assuming that he could wait and attend a very selective school as an 18 year old grad student.

    The undergrad and grad school experiences are very different. Grad students usually don't live in dorms, interact mostly with people in their department, and rarely participate in undergrad extracurriculars such as sports, clubs, student newspapers etc.
    I'm not saying your plan is bad, just that going to grad school at an Ivy is not the same as going there as an undergrad.


    "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell
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    Originally Posted by JonA
    Hi,
    i was wondering if anyone here has had experience with early college entrance and radical acceleration?

    There is a book "Early Entrance to College" (2007) by Michelle Muratori http://www.amazon.com/Early-Entranc..._1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331305955&sr=1-1 . I have not completed it, but it is good so far and has quotes from lots of early college students and their parents. Her article "Tips for Parents: Making Decisions about Early Entrance to College" is at http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10531.aspx .


    "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell
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    JonA Offline OP
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    Thanks for all of the replies! Part of our concern on "missing out" on the elite college experience has to do with the experience that my wife and I both had. We attended decent public high schools (that offered plenty of AP classes) but neither of us were ever really challenged in HS. Both of us then went on to attend an Ivy league school and discovered an environment where significant numbers of people with similar levels of intellectual curiosity were the norm rather than the exception. It is that social environment that I would like my son to experience, though at age 18 rather than at 14. I guess that I figured being a commuter student at a decent 2nd tier school would keep him academically challenged, and we would treat it sort of like high school (just with more responsibility and freedom). Perhaps grad school isn't the ideal way for an 18 year old with a bachelors degree to have a traditional "Freshman" experience, but we are truly struggling finding alternatives.

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    If his trajectory is STEM, then finding a mentor in a local college who will take him on is something to consider. He can then get his undergrad out of the way and then go to any grad school he wants.


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    If his trajectory is STEM, then finding a mentor in a local college who will take him on is something to consider. He can then get his undergrad out of the way and then go to any grad school he wants. A published paper or two at the age of 16 or 18 goes a lot further than another 4 years of HS.




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    Originally Posted by master of none
    Grinity, I thought the early college list was for people in early college. Is it worthwhile for those a few years away to join too?
    The parents there are very kind. I joined a while back when I was thinking about local community college classes to round things out for DS. I've also picked up some great tips for having a child away at boarding school. The list isn't very active, except in spurts. But I recommend to join and ask away. Another wonderful list is the DYS Alumni list, which you can join at anytime, don't have to wait to be an Alum. That's a great place to ask those 'so how did it turn out?' questions.

    Smiles,
    Grinity


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    Originally Posted by CFK
    What I would not do is hold my son back from starting college just so that he can apply to a more elite school (that he may or may not get into since it's a crapshoot for everyone who applies at those selectivity levels) in order to get a specific kind of "college experience". A student that is ready to start college at 14 or younger is going to be miserable waiting for several years just to pass time until he is chronologically old enough to fit into societal norms.
    Very wise words. Things have changed so much since 'we' were students. The competition is very strong in their preparation, but that is a different thing than 'Level of Giftedness.' It may be that the only time your DS would actually enjoy being a college student would be age 14,15 or 16. You'll know better as it gets closer.

    In the mean time look into those summer camp experiences - a great way to 'simulate' that experience of being normal. My son describes CTY this way: "I teaches you all the things that regular kids learn and experience in High School about getting along with other kids and doing traditions and making memories." Does that help me smile as I write the check? You bet.

    Smiles,
    Grinity


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    JonA Offline OP
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    Thanks again for the continued suggestions! It occurred to me after my first post that one other question that has been concerning us is the challenge level of the coursework of a state university (when not at a flagship campus). There are tons of posts here from people who sent their children to a local community college or state university. I have to wonder though how rigorous those courses really are when compared to AP classes at a top high school. We have a local state university that my son could attend (dual enrollment is free for the first course and pretty affordable after that), but I have been warned by a friend who is a professor there that we probably won't be too pleased with the classmates my son would have as we would be with him staying put in HS (though our professor friend did say the other professors are pretty good). Have others here had a similar experience? The price is certainly right, and the school is within a 30 minute walk or 10 minute bike ride (assuming the weather is good), so it is an attractive option for us. We have several other younger children, so we really need an option that my son can get to on his own.

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    Originally Posted by JonA
    There are a number of top 25-50 schools in our area accessible by public transportation (since he's too young to drive) that would probably be academically OK as a day student. The problem is that I sort of feel as though we would be depriving our son of the experience of a really top school by forcing him to be a commuter as a lesser school than he would be able to attend as a regular 18 year old.

    Hi Jon,
    May I ask you to clarify something please? It sounds like you are saying that there are many accessible top 25-50 schools in your area. But, then in your later posts it sounds like you were saying the schools accessible to him weren't very good. Top 25-50 schools are very good so that didn't really make sense. Do you have good schools he could commute to?

    I agree with the other person who said that admissions to an Ivy is to not predictable at traditional age. While your son may fit with the academic profile, so do most of the 90% of students who are rejected. There really are no guarantees.

    Wanting your son to have a traditional experience is certainly a consideration. Is that what he wants? If that is a priority for all involved it may make sense to look at slowing down his rate of progress through high school and then possibly following up with boarding school or a combination of dual enrollment and homeschooling in order to try to stretch out the time.

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    Where we live our colleges are not so great. However prior to my kiddo taking the english class, we researched the teacher, met with the teacher, got feedback from other students and thought wow this is going to be great. We set up her whole schedule to do this and were bound. The Friday before classes were to start they changed the teacher. The new teacher had a child similar age as my kiddo. I find those teachers the hardest to work with. So I do still think checking out the teacher is a good idea but by no means fool proof.

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    JonA Offline OP
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    Originally Posted by passthepotatoes
    Hi Jon,
    May I ask you to clarify something please? It sounds like you are saying that there are many accessible top 25-50 schools in your area. But, then in your later posts it sounds like you were saying the schools accessible to him weren't very good. Top 25-50 schools are very good so that didn't really make sense. Do you have good schools he could commute to?
    Sorry for the confusion. I didn't explain myself. We have an OK suburban state university within 30 min/10 min walk/bike distance from our home that my son could dual enroll at where there would be minimal to no cost to us. In addition, there are several second tier (top 25-50) schools about a 45 minute to 1 hour train ride into the city. In both cases, my son could get himself there on his own. The dual enrollment option would be very close to home but I don't think that he would get peers at his level of aptitude (and also there would be many fewer course offerings). The city schools offer everything (coursewise), but as a practical matter, he would really have to apply/enroll full time for both time and cost reasons and leave HS early. Even in the case of the second tier city schools, where his classmates would be far better than those in the local university, they would still be academically well below the elite selective schools. I know that Ivy admissions are not a sure thing, but by the time he is 18 (under any set of circumstances other than sitting out school for several years), he will likely have completed the equivalent of a math major and probably a physical or computer science major too. I find it hard to imagine that at age 18 there would be so much uncertainty over his acceptance to a top 10 school at that point.

    We're trying to figure out what to do with him right now, and probably we'll try the nearby/free university first. If it's too easy, we'll go back to the drawing board.

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    No really..things have change a lot since we went to school. Read the book, 'what High Schools Don't Tell You' although do bring the grain of salt. MIT admissions blog is very good too.
    Bottom line is that you are trying to grow an attractive person who loves life which includes learning. I think that this is hard to do when the local raw materials doesnt match the child's raw material but it sounds like so far you've done a great job. Just keep trying to balance the needs of the moment with the future dreams. You may also want to visit attractive Ivys and see what your current impressions of the students are.


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    Originally Posted by Grinity
    No really..things have change a lot since we went to school. Read the book, 'what High Schools Don't Tell You' although do bring the grain of salt. MIT admissions blog is very good too.

    The strategy I generally recommend is go to the free school (State U, generally), get a 4.0 (or whatever high GPA you desire), and then you are fine for grad school.

    I can only speak in terms of dental school and law school though.

    College = High School now, so Grad School = College.

    And College should be free for the high achiever. This advice does not apply to underachievers.

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    There was a kid at Hunter who did dual enrollment at Columbia and finished a dual physics and math at Columbia, before he graduated high school. Then he decided on Harvard, the last I heard. I think alot of options are available to those types of kids and you described your son similarly.


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    Originally Posted by kcab
    When I think fondly of college, I'm most often thinking of something that happened during grad school.

    And when I think fondly of college, I'm most often thinking of some activity at which grad students were welcome (and more than just theoretically welcome - they were actually present). We undergrads thought some of the grad students were weird for hanging around with us, but that was really a factor of age.

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    JonA, I thought I would relate my experience since our sons entered High School at the same age. My son was classified as home schooled but actually entered Florida Virtual School for high school at age 12 and we had planned on doing the dual enrollment at the local community college. Unfortunately a lawsuit here in Florida in 2010 resulted in most (including our local) community colleges to put age restrictions on dual enrollment students (must be 15 or 16 yrs old). This forced us to look at the early admissions option (part of the dual enrollment program) at the local state university (which said they had a 16 year age limit but didn't actually have one published).

    Most universities don't require a High School diploma but they do require a minimum list of classes to have been completed even for early admissions. For a University that is part of the Florida State University system it was the following (and is the same for most Universities that I reviewed)

    Specific high school course units are required for admission as a first-year student (an academic unit is a non-remedial, year-long course):
    �4 units of English (at least three with substantial writing requirements)
    �4 units of mathematics (Algebra I and above)
    �3 units of natural science (at least two with laboratory)
    �3 units of social studies
    �2 sequential units of the same foreign language
    �2 elective units, preferably from English, mathematics, natural science, social studies, or foreign language areas

    So we altered our plan and my son finished those courses (All honors and API except for his 2 years of Chinese, and all A's) applied for early admissions with a letter from his Virtual Counselor and started the University in August 2011 full-time with the state picking up the tab. He has now been accepted as a First Time in College (FTIC)student this fall (Age 14), with a year and a half of credits, and will be a junior at the end of the Fall semester and hopefully a senior by the time he's 16. The state will still be picking up most of the tab, because in Florida we have a state sponsored scholarship call "Bright Futures" which contributes to a students education if they stay in the Florida University system.

    The plus side of all this is that he has been fully accepted socially by his peers (most of who don't know his age) and is extremely active in campus activities. He's already making a name for himself in his classes as the "guy to go to for help". He is planning on getting a Master Degree in Computer Engineering with the University's 4+1 program combining the BS + MS degree, and then applying for a top tier school. We didn't do the top tier school application right now because: 1. Felt he was too young for living on campus 2. Looking at MIT, they wouldn't have transferred most of his credits so he would have been an actual entering Freshman. 3. Cost (almost free versus a small fortune). Hopefully he can get into a top Graduate school for a PhD at 18, with the school picking up most of the tab.

    So if your son is mature enough, I would say go for the local state university and leave the top tier schools for grad school.


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