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Maturity Level a Key to College Degree

August 31, 2003|From Associated Press

How young is too young when it comes to students entering college? Experts say each case needs to be evaluated individually.

Gary Kiger, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Utah State University, has had at least two young prodigies enrolled during his tenure -- including a political science major who recently graduated as valedictorian at age 15. Kiger says that case worked out well because the young man has "a certain amount of social poise" and attended college with his father, also a student.

But Kiger says it's important to ask: "Who's pushing? Is it the parents? Does the child really want this?"

Michelle Bartol, dean of enrollment at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., says determining maturity level is also key. And, she says, even younger students who are admitted should be carefully monitored by resident assistants in their dorms.

The number of preteen college students is small. But college administrators say they're getting more applications from teens who finish high school a year or two early.

Grant Beems, 17, a sophomore at the Florida Institute of Technology, is one of them. He enrolled at age 16 after teaching himself calculus and scoring 1,550 on the SAT.

Beems says it helps that he looks old for his age. But he encourages anyone thinking of going to college early to "go for it. You'll probably feel uncomfortable. But that's OK. Even if you're the traditional age, you will still feel some butterflies in your stomach when you start."

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