Graduating Early

Hi everyone, so recently my daughter found out she could graduate early by a year and she is 16. She recently applied to Uark and got in for fall of 2020, by the time fall semester starts she will barley be 17. We are debating on letting her attend fall of 2020 due to her age, and also uark being “out of state” for us since we live in Texas. Besides that she seems very ready for college and would be able to handle herself, academically speaking. She already has 30college credits from a local community college, so she would technically start off as a sophomore. I do agree with her though that staying another full year when she has more than enough credits required to graduate is unnecessary. I would like her to just complete another year of community college before going to a 4 year university. She has reached her maximum dual credit classes she can take with the school, and she is telling me that if she were to do another year of community college she wouldn’t know what to take since they don’t offer engineering classes which are required for her degree. What are your thoughts? Should we let her start fall of 2020 or make her wait till fall of 2021 and graduate with her actual class?

What’s the appeal of Arkansas? Couldn’t she spend an additional year taking general education classes at a CC in Texas and then apply to a Texas university where articulation agreements were in place with her CC with respect to course credit?

I assume this is part of the appeal:

OP, my ds was grade skipped and had a mid-summer birthday, so he was effectively in the same place as your dd age-wise. He was 17 years old his entire freshman year of college and attended a college 1,800+ miles away. It was fine.

If your dd is ready to go and doesn’t have a concern about missing her senior year and all that brings, I’d let her do it. Hopefully, she knows herself well enough that she can assess whether or not she will have regrets later on.

Depends on each kid’s maturity. I lived in New Jersey and started as a Freshman at Carnegie-Mellon a few months after turning 17 and was fine. I did meet a couple others in the same situation who weren’t.

@RichInPitt I agree. Each kid is different.

@rubyphillipsss You know your daughter best and you know her level of maturity best. I’d say do what YOU think is best for your daughter and your family!

Definitely depends on yours and your kid’s comfort level. How far away from home will she be? My daughter will be sixteen next year and though she has college acceptances she has decided to choose one and take a gap year. She is in no rush to get to the adult goal line. She plans to work, dance, and relax next year and go away to college at 17 refreshed and ready to move ahead with her life. Does your daughter have an extra curricular or job that she could pursue next year if she took a gap year?

I graduated a year early and was already young because of an early start --and I also attended a college out of state. I was age 16 when I started college, age 20 when I graduated. I did not have any academic problems, and although I still had a lot of growing up to do – so did the 18 and 19 year olds who were there. If anything, I was somewhat more mature and level-headed than average.

My youth was somewhat of a disadvantage when it came to job seeking. I did NOT encourage my daughter to take a similar route, and I think she was better off being 18 when she started college – but I did encourage and allow my daughter to spend a semester abroad as a high school junior, at age 16 – which was far more challenging than anything I had done.

I’d think a student who is focused on engineering would probably do fine — simply because engineering students tend to be kept very busy with their studies.

Just keep in mind that “make her wait” can lead to a very rocky year – it’s not easy to live under the same roof with a 17-year-old who feels frustrated or resentful at being there. (And probably a lot worse for the parent-child relationship than having the child at a distance. The kid who is physically away will generally be happy to have parental contact and advice; the kid who is physically present will often be looking for ways to avoid parental intrusion as much as possible.)

So, given what your daughter has informed you about the community college course options – in what ways beyond merely getting a year older would it benefit your daughter to stay home for another year?

I, too graduated HS early and began college at just 17.
Looking back, I still feel as if I gave myself a gift. I was ready emotionally and it allowed for me to be independent in ways that remaining in HS another year could not have.

So, as the others before me have said - it depends on your daughter.

My son graduated HS a year early. Had he gone to a state school, he would have entered as a junior. Where he went, he was a freshman. The 3 colleges he was most interested in all said they looked at juniors who had exhausted the courses (Stem). My son turned 18 in first semester, so he really wasn’t young for his college class.

Still, I’d only recommend this route if the student was emotionally and academically prepared. ( I don’t think my son was academically ready, but taking all his classes at the local U wouldn’t have been much help.)

Do you have any particular concerns?

You still have time to go over most of the life skills stuff if you missed anything along the way.

Is she ready to handle college parties and older men on her own?

Academically she may do fine…but will she do fine socially? She won’t even be 18 when she goes to school.

I had a friend whose daughter was in a similar situation and she did an exchange year (living with a family) and then went to college the next year.

I think you and your daughter are really in the best position to determine if she’s ready to go away or not. There are some good personal experiences being shared above.

But I’m chiming in to caution you that taking CC classes (or any college classes) before HS graduation and taking them AFTER HS graduation is an important distinction for colleges. The first makes you a new student with credit and the second can make you a transfer student, which has FA implications. So be sure you talk with the college before having her graduate and then take another year of CC classes.

I graduated from high school at 16 and took a gap year living with a French family and learning French fluently. It turned out that it really turned on some switch in my brain because I’d been just terrible at French, but I had no problem with German in college. I ended up being able to get a grant to do research for a senior thesis on low cost housing in London and Berlin thanks to the fact that I spoke two foreign languages. I turned 18 the first week of college so I was still on the young side. I felt like graduating early gave me the freedom to have a year (or two) I could play with. I ended up taking another gap year before grad school thanks to another grant for a different project.

I think I would have been fine going straight to college. My roommate was 17 and never had any issues about being too young except for the fact that at the time the drinking age was 18.

My husband’s roommate was 15 when he started college. I only found out how young he was long after he graduated. He was a classic computer nerd, so any social issues with him I attributed to stereotypes not youth. I did spend an amusing afternoon advising him on improving his wardrobe. (He’d asked for advice.) He found a nice girlfriend his junior year.

Anecdotes of course aren’t date, but people aren’t data either. You know your daughter best, but from what you’ve said, I think she’ll be fine starting an engineering program now.

Our gifted son was an early entry kindergartener (fall birthday) with elementary grade acceleration. He was with the same cohort 5th thru senior year of HS, started at a big flagship while still 16. The gifted are different- they don’t fit in until they (finally) find their academic peer group in college.

It sounds like your D has exhausted her HS options since she already has community college credits. Definitely ready for the rigors of a top four year college. Socially she is who she is- not typical given her background and waiting a year will not improve her ability to be typical. I would hope she goes for honors classes at her chosen U. Flagship U’s have two populations- the better students and the best who could do well at elite schools but for various reasons (including finances and there not being enough spaces for all) are at the state school.

For STEM fields I do not see any good gap year options. Why postpone the continuation of learning just because of age? Before legally being an adult there are issues because of age that don’t cause any problems for college students. btw- son was NOT the youngest in his honors physics class- there was a 14 year old local girl doing “Youth Options” in his class. The guys in son’s dorm and college profs didn’t care about his age- it is a totally different scene than HS. Oh, those age 21 liquor laws helped- ALL of the freshmen were underage regardless of their habits.

Go for it. Let her take classes with her (honors) peers instead of the community college crowd. Her classes are likely to be more rigorous and cover more material regardless of the credits that transfer. Do not hold her back! Her social life will not be helped- I recall having so many out of class intellectual experiences (late night talking et al) with my college honors level peers.

Engineering is a BS with foundational courses and a sequential curriculum, and fewer gen eds than a BA, so more courses at community college may not make sense.

It seems the current choices are some sort of gap year, away from home or not, or going to college (if the cost of UArkansas isn’t a problem. ) I think that depends on what she wants. Is she burned out, or does she need a break from the school environment? Is she anxious to get into engineering asap?

I know kids who did the National Outdoor Leadership School in this situation or WOOF I did Frontier Nursing (drove a jeep) way back when There are many ideas. But some of the gap year ideas require more maturity than college!

College doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Is there a Texas school, closer to home, that she could start at, either matriculated as part-time or non-matriculated? Many schools, including state universities, allow for part-time study through continuing education or non-matriculated registration. She could also take classes online.

With engineering I would think it can be good (but don’t know for sure) to do the engineering curriculum as much as possible at one school-?

If your daughter can benefit from living at home, or being close to home, that can guide you. On the other hand if she is anxious to fly and mature enough, that might not be a factor.

Academic talent and giftedness can propel kids ahead of schedule but obviously social and emotional health is a priority. Lots of options!!!

ps has she considered Olin, my favorite engineering school? :slight_smile:

I would recommend being a full time college student with the full freshman experience. I also would expect her to carry as many credits as she can- even with lab hours. Being young does not mean less capable of dealing with college- in fact the gifted students need more to keep from being bored. I did worry about my son who couldn’t hear the extra loud alarm clock we heard from down the hall would have trouble with managing this aspect of independence but he did just fine. Motivation makes a difference. He found his intellectual peers.

I don’t see any problem with graduating early under the circumstances.

If you have concerns about the social environment, there are gap year options. A kid who has whizzed through high school as she has might welcome the opportunity to stretch another part of her in a relatively risk-free way.

In any case, this is a personal decision. I have known kids who went to college as 16 year olds and were team captains in varsity sports their sophomore year. I have also known kids who had just turned 18 who struggled to find friends, were immature, and who were socially misaligned with their peers. In any case, the academic part doesn’t sound like it’ll be an issue.

If she’s planning on an engineering degree, she will need to follow the usual engineering course sequence at UArk, so another year of CC would likely just accumulate a lot of credits she doesn’t need and can’t use, and will not save any time or money. I graduated at 16 and started college a month after my 17th birthday and I was fine. I would have been really frustrated and unhappy if I’d had to spend an extra year at home spinning my wheels when I was more than ready to get on with my life.

I am not certain, but I believe some structured gap year programs require that a student be 18 to participate.

I agree with caution on taking even one class after high school graduation. before matriculating at a 4 year school It can make a big difference esp with merit scholarships. My daughter started college with over 60 credits. However she was only a junior in terms of credits for when it came to picking classes. Otherwise she was a freshman in freshman housing, had to take a freshman advisory type class etc.