Sunday, March 24, 2013

Skip high school. Go straight to college. Here’s how!

By Rylie VanOrsdol

In my fourteen years of life, I have been public schooled, online schooled, charter schooled, private schooled, Montessori schooled, and homeschooled. I’ve skipped a grade and completed a grade in three months online. After all the learning options I  have experienced, what I have found is that the traditional path was unable to meet my needs.


A recent adventure was collegiate middle school. This school seemed like a perfect fit for me! I was interested in the idea of a college-focused middle school as I love learning and a challenge. The school was a vastly different environment than the traditional-style schools I had previously attended. It was a comfortable and competitive environment which I enjoyed. About half way through the year there was a change in the head of school and staff. Following the change of staff was my change of heart. By the time I hit eighth grade I started disliking the school. This was an unusual feeling for me because I have always loved learning. I didn’t let it affect my grades but I knew something had to change.

My parents and I spoke. I’m lucky. They have always been supportive and willing to think outside the box to help me achieve my goals. We researched and explored a variety of ideas. The end result was a decision for me to skip high school and become a full-time college student at fourteen.

Now that I’m doing it, I can tell you this: I couldn’t be happier!
I love the freedom and opportunity that college life affords me and I am doing well. I have a 4.0 and am taking all of my required classes first before choosing a final path.

Here is how I did it.

I signed up for my local college’s (State College of Florida) placement exam, the PERT test. I also took the SAT and ACT. I enrolled in the college as a dual enrolled homeschool high school student. My test scores allowed me to enroll in all college level classes. By being dual enrolled, Manatee County pays for two classes per semester, including Summer sessions. My parents pay for the additional three classes which puts me at 15 credit hours per semester.

I don’t actually homeschool or attend high school. I only attend SCF.

I create my own schedule, choose my classes, and review and choose my professors. I don’t have to wear uniforms or conform to rules that were created for a few bad seeds in public schools. I am a mature, responsible teen that does not require micromanagement. I have much more free time than I did before and am treated like an adult. I believe this is why college feels so fantastic!

You may be wondering, something.

“Does she miss her peers?”

I’m lucky that my home has always been a place where teens are welcome in mass numbers and they enjoy being here. I do normal teen things like go to the skating rink and other public events where teens gather. My parents have taught me that if you work hard, you deserve to play hard as well!

I’m not missing out on football games, homecoming dances, or proms. I have friends at many local schools who invite me. In fact, I went to two homecoming dances at two different high schools last Fall.

I will be joining the Honor Society at the college at the end of this semester. It requires time tutoring other students. I enjoy helping others and it can’t hurt my resumé. Most students and almost all of my professors have no idea how old I am. Being 5’7” probably contributes to my looking “age-appropriate.”

When I have been asked outright by other students and admitted my age, most are very welcoming. They think what I’m doing is cool. A few that I have encountered seem uncomfortable and won’t speak to me, but hey, that just feels like high school, and I have no interest in wasting my time with that, you know?

This is not just for geniuses!

Many of my friends are also frustrated with school. I want them to know there is an alternative! I am not some kind of prodigy. My friends have the ability to do exactly what I am doing. Unfortunately, for most, there is one thing holding them back.  Their parents. They aren’t willing to listen and learn about alternate paths to high school.

This decision has been great for me and my personal plans for success right now. Next, I plan on transferring to a University at 15 when I have my AA. What’s nice is that I have all my core classes at an affordable state college and about half of my tuition will have been free since the state pays for that. When I’m ready to dive more deeply into a particular area of study, I will move up the ladder to a university that meets my needs, but, for now, I’m not unnecessarily spending much money as I’m taking the core general ed curriculum.  

If you think skipping high school to go to college might be something you are interested in, you should know that there are plenty of teens exploring what it is like to live a life without traditional school. You can connect with us at School Free Teens on Facebook.  There you can contact me and many others. It’s a great place to share experience, consider questions, and get advice...like how to convince your parents to consider other options.  
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