Well, here we go: Junior deciding to graduate early

So I somewhat unexpectedly have a junior son who has decided to graduate at the end of this school year. We had already begun the college search but it’s a bit more time-crunched now.

He’s mature, awesome, sunny, friendly, bright, and an athlete. He loves his circle of friends and also likes to meet new people. He had originally thought that maybe he would consider college athletics but now will not. He has a 3.95 unweighted GPA in rigorous classes, hasn’t taken his ACT/PSAT yet (historically has scored very well on standardized testing, always above 90th percentile). Won an important school leadership aware, 3 sport varsity athlete from sophomore year on, co-founder of the feminist student union. Nice upstanding kid, will have strong letters of recommendation.

He has traveled around the world–of note, is half first generation immigrant (mom American, dad from somewhere else) and is not Christian. Open to schools outside the US. Not opposed to historically religiously affiliated schools but does not want to be in a religion-centric place. Does not yet know what he wants to study but does want the option for Arabic classes, some type of design possibly, and is considering maybe going to medical school.

He will apply to UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and UMinn as safeties. He liked Fordham when we visited for his older brother but that was a bit ago. UCincinnati for design/co-op seems like a good possibility. I also feel like Marist, DePaul, UPS, and Georgetown have elements that fit him. Rice would be a long shot but seems like a nice fit. His brother went to Eckerd and he’s not opposed to it but I don’t think it’s the same fit as it was for S19. I think a place with smart, busy, fun, nice kids is kind of the vibe he would like. That’s pretty generic and a category that can be found anywhere, I know, but it’s kind of the ideal atmosphere.

He doesn’t want to be way out in the boonies with no access to good food off campus. Likes cities but not opposed to smaller places as long as there is some access to a city within reasonable distance. Doesn’t feel like he needs huge rah-rah sports but would participate if it’s there. Ok for any distance from home (midwest).

We will not pay an unlimited amount for a college education but have a fairly liberal budget, unless things remain online in which case we are not super interested in a 70,000/year bill.

I could use some brainstorming, please! I’ve kept a running document on schools that may be right for him but he’s less distinct in college needs/preferences than my older son and it’s just a bit harder to power through it quickly. Suggestions much appreciated.

What state are you in? Have you considered doing dual enrollment program for senior year (if they have that option in your state)? My D had all her HS credits by the end of junior year, but instead of graduating early, she is taking college classes through a dual enrollment program for free. She lives at home, but tuition/books are no cost through the program.

We are in Wisconsin. He is just done, wants to move on to the college experience. I think the dual enrollment can be a great option, not what he wants, though. How awesome that your daughter is powering through a year of college, it’s a good move.

Reason for wanting to graduate high school early, particularly if his college needs and preferences are not too clearly defined?

If he wants medical school, be aware of the cost of that, so saving money on undergraduate to use it for expensive medical school may be worth considering.

He’s just ready. He’s on the older side of his grade, has always been mature. He wants to move on. Wants to get started on adult life.

He’s aware of medical school costs–I don’t think it’s a firm preference for him yet, but I’m a professor/nurse practitioner and dad’s a doctor so he will need to reflect on whether that is something he truly wants or just a familiar path.

He’s the kind of kid that will thrive just about anywhere, but I do want to help him find a great match where he can really bloom. Since he is a bit undifferentiated, it will also need to be a place where he can explore before settling on a major.


I would NOT recommend a Canadian university. GPAs are lower (this would be a problem for applications to med school) and majors must be decided on either at the beginning of freshman year or the end of freshman year.

DD16 had similar stats and was also looking for mid-size colleges/universities that were in or near a city. We first discussed geographic preferences and settled on colleges that were close to extended family, so her list was primarily schools in California. We also found that Jesuit schools like Fordham fit well with the nice, smart vibe she was looking for. She applied and was accepted at Santa Clara U, but chose not to go. I still think it would have been a better environment for her than where she ended up.

I would go through a list like this one - https://www.forbes.com/sites/schifrin/2014/08/04/top-100-sat-scores-ranking-which-colleges-have-the-brightest-kids/#286a821d5bad and see which ones have the characteristics he’s looking for.

Thanks, great list! It does seem like the Jesuit schools have that vibe–smart, nice, busy kids. He’s opposed to Marquette but otherwise open to them. As a non-Christian fairly liberal minded individual, I do think we have to look at them a bit more closely.

I think Fordham will remain on the list. Haven’t spent much time at SLU–if anyone has a sense of the feel of the school I’d love to hear it! I will look into Santa Clara as well.

Once he has a PSAT and ACT I can start sorting things a little better, he’ll need a few reaches.

My friends daughter is as soph at SLU and loves it (mechanical engineering and spanish). Very happy with her classes, feels challenged yet supported. Has found a great group of friends as well.

Ohio State? Michigan State? U of Cincinnati? DePaul U? U of Detroit Mercy?

DePaul and U Cincinnati are on the list, seem like strong options for him. I think we’ll stay away from other big 10s since Minn and Madison are in-state tuition for us (woohoo). I will look at U Detroit Mercy, not familiar with that school.

Thanks for the SLU info, seems like another option to look into. Interesting combo of majors!

U Detroit Mercy is Jesuit (since you mentioned Marquette). Sorry for repeating some on the list (but nice to know I wasnt totally off base with suggestions) :slight_smile: . I know a few doctors I work with went there (and I have students who did their undergrads there as well who all seemed to like it).

As for SLU, they have a great aerospace program as well and she wanted to have the option of those classes if she chose to. She wants to be bilingual as she feels it opens job opportunities and her initial plan was to do a semester abroad at SLU Madrid (which has the major she is doing and would not have delayed her graduation) however that got cancelled due to the pandemic.

Good luck to your son!

Does he realize the college experience isn’t normal right now? If ever there was a time NOT to graduate early this would be it.

BTW we liked Fordham a lot. Loyola in Chicago should be on the list if he’s considering DePaul. University of San Diego is Catholic and has a beautiful campus. If I were young and looking at schools again I’d look in Boston. It’s really geared for college students.

“Does he realize the college experience isn’t normal right now? If ever there was a time NOT to graduate early this would be it.”

High school isn’t normal right now either. And there is no telling when (or even if) college will go back to what previously was considered normal. If the kid is done, done, done with high school, then getting on with whatever comes next for him is what makes best sense for his life.

I’m well aware high school isn’t normal. I’m living it with my senior.

Reread the OP’s quote. He wants the “college experience”. Does he fully understand the college experience as it is today? I don’t know, but I do know 17 year-olds don’t always think things through or with enough thought. Has he really thought this out?

The difference between HS and college is college can cost an extra $75k/year and will still probably be online like high school. Not the college experience he probably has in his head.

Yes, he sure does. Brother came home from college in march, and is now doing everything online but does live at college. He just wants to move forward with his life. He is a July birthday, could be a senior this year, and is truly very mature for his age. I’m not at all concerned about his understanding of the situation.

So here we are, looking for suggestions.

Boston! Good call, lots of family there. Brother did like Clark very much, was a close 2nd for him. Will look into that for the currently searching son.

Thanks! Great city.