Tuesday, August 5, 2008

12 Year Old Boy Fighting College For Admission


This is not the first time a 12 year old could or would be admitted to a college in CT - but the Courant is reporting on this story about a Coventry boy who has the brains, but not the age to be allowed to attend one particular college, simply because of dormitory rules.
He earned his diploma from Stanford University Online High School. His Advanced Placement test scores count as a year's worth of college credits, not counting his course work at the University of Connecticut in the last three years. And his SAT score is 1350 — 150 points higher than UConn's freshman average.

Colin Carlson, who turned 12 Thursday, was set to enter Connecticut College this fall with almost full financial aid for an almost complete college experience — everything but sleeping overnight in a dorm.

That was the deal, until the administrator who promised that arrangement was overruled by other deans who would not commit to giving Colin an affiliation to an academic house, a distinct disadvantage at a liberal arts school, in what Colin calls a "bait and switch."

His age, although not a hurdle to faculty eager to work with him, has challenged administrators required to watch over campus life and control legal risks. Deans at Connecticut College and other private colleges were wary even though his mother offered to waive liability, rent an apartment nearby and even serve as a house parent in a dorm so Colin could live on campus.

"Institutionally we do not have the infrastructure that will guarantee the well-being of a young boy in the residence halls," wrote Connecticut College Dean of Studies Theresa Ammirati in late June, after Colin's deposit had been paid.

Now UConn, where Colin has unofficially completed 11 courses in subjects ranging from organic chemistry to major literary works with a near perfect GPA, will admit him on scholarship this fall in its honors program. The 23,000-student Storrs campus doesn't afford the small liberal arts experience Colin was hoping for, but it was his first college and it will be his next one.

"They've made an incredible difference for me and helped me find who I am academically," he said. "Conn has been very uncertain, and UConn has given me a great deal more certainty. So, I think things will work out." In four years, Colin expects to earn science and arts degrees in environment-related areas.

An environmental advocate from an early age, he wants to be a conservation biologist. The profoundly gifted adolescent has founded a pro-planet nonprofit called the Cool Coventry Club, produced testimony on environmental bills in the state legislature and spent hundreds of hours getting his Coventry community to go green. His efforts recently netted him first place in the International Young Eco-Hero competition run by Action for Nature.
That's Connecticut College's loss. Colin should just go to a college that won't give him a hassle and instead will give him the opportunities that he seeks. UCONN seems to be such a college. Connecticut College's dormitory residency policies are dumb and if they are more interested in covering their butts then giving a kid the opportunities that he seeks then more is the pity. It just goes to show how colleges can be too wrapped up in policy. If the parents and the boy himself think that dorm living would be fine then who's to say it isn't.

Clearly he has the support of professors and mentors who also believe in this incredibly talented and gifted 12 year old.

We ought to be encouraging more young kids to excel in this manner, and we ought to be nurturing this type of intelligence. Instead institutions throw roadblocks in their path. What a shame. But Colin is smart enough to know that if one place doesn't want you there will be others that will. Vote with your feet Colin. Their loss is your not attending their institution.

These college administrators, even as they say they are impressed with Colin's potential, should be less focused on his age. They need to realize that for him it isn't about "rushing through his life" it is about his desire to pursue his own goals. What's the point in spending time wasting away at a Prep school like Exeter or other schools until he is "an appropriate age", especially when Colin's SAT IIs when he was 10 were already 100 points above the average Exeter senior's? Why on earth should a person such as Colin postpone degree work? So he can hang out with other 12 year olds who he has nothing in common with? What's he supposed to do, waste his time watching the Simpson's or Naruto until he can be old enough to live in a dorm? Good grief.

Heaven forbid this 12 year old should be exposed to an adult world in a dormitory ! - as if he hasn't seen most of adult activity on TV or in the media. Those school administrators at Connecticut College are just naive. I would also submit that if they themselves feel that their own dorms are not safe and house some sort of illicit "adult activity" then perhaps they ought to take a better look at how they manage their own dormitories. Big deal - they have co-ed bathrooms. Perhaps the problem is not with age but with sex. As for mental maturity - I will wager Colin has more maturity than lots of people living in those dormitories.

This statistic says a lot as to why kids in this country are not achieving:
About 1.5 million U.S. students, or half of all gifted students, are underachieving because they are not appropriately challenged in school, according to the "Handbook of Gifted Education" by leaders in the field.

Jill Adrian is director of family services at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a Reno, Nev., nonprofit that provides counseling and locates resources for highly gifted youth across the country. She has known Colin since 2003 and says he is ready for full-time college. Interrupting a gifted student's progress could have a negative effect, she said.

"If they have a break or delay in academic challenge, underachievement or depression can come into play," Adrian said. "They have a need for constant mental stimulation and Colin is no exception to that."

Although many bright children are allowed to skip elementary and secondary grades, a practice called radical acceleration, they often hit a wall after high school, Carlson, who has a doctorate in psychology, says. "They're all ready for college, all dressed up and no place to go, because the colleges aren't prepared to accept them," she said.
I know many homeschoolers who attend college early - my own kids included. I will also say that younger kids attending college do not want any special consideration given to them because of "their age". Kids can achieve much if you give them the opportunities and don't keep them stunted.

This country has a penchant for keeping it's population in an infantile stage mentally (physically they like to dress up their young to look much older, and in fact the trashier the better) Adolescence is extended and kids are kept dependent well into their mid 20's.

Consider how kids achieved much more much younger in the earlier days of our country. John Taylor Gatto wrote about this in his book "The Underground History of American Education" - and it is worthwhile to read the stories of accomplished youth such as Admiral David Farragut:
Farragut got his first command when he was picked to head a prize crew. I was in fifth grade when I read about that. Had Farragut gone to my school he would have been in seventh. You might remember that as a rough index how far our maturity had been retarded even fifty years ago. Once at sea, the deposed British captain rebelled at being ordered about by a boy and announced he was going below for his pistols (which as a token of respect he had been allowed to keep). Farragut sent word down that if the captain appeared on deck armed he would be summarily shot and dumped overboard. He stayed below.

So ended David Farragut’s first great test of sound judgment. At fifteen, this unschooled young man went hunting pirates in the Mediterranean. Anchored off Naples, he witnessed an eruption of Vesuvius and studied the mechanics of volcanic action. On a long layover in Tunis, the American consul, troubled by Farragut’s ignorance, tutored him in French, Italian, mathematics, and literature. Consider our admiral in embryo. I’d be surprised if you thought his education was deficient in anything a man needs to be reckoned with.
Colin - follow your dreams and don't let the roadblocks of grownups who say you can't do something get in your way. Go around them and do what you must. Praise goes to his parents who support him and know precisely what he needs, as well as what he can handle. You Go boy!

As for him "not having a childhood" - he's had one and is still having one - it's just not like yours.

3 comments:

troyt said...

I this paragraph from your post sums up the plight of our nation best:

"This country has a penchant for keeping it's population in an infantile stage mentally (physically they like to dress up their young to look much older, and in fact the trashier the better) Adolescence is extended and kids are kept dependent well into their mid 20's."

It's no wonder that our prisons are overcrowded and children are preyed upon daily.

Our colleges need to take a look at themselves and assess just how prepared they are to educate our young people to be good global citizens.

Angelina K said...

Americans are positively bipolar in their "valuing" of education. They seem to claim - with vague words, anyway - that education is a priority, that education is important, that education is the way to success...but only one specific flavor of education. One size fits all, and if you have the audacity to need anything else (and who doesn't?) then you're the problem. To my mind the thing that exemplifies this and burns me up every single time I see it is the bumper sticker that claims "My [insert hooligan type here] beat up your honors student." Apparently it's funny and perfectly acceptable to deride the brightest. Heaven forbid we celebrate them. I frequently have very bleak flashes of our future...

Jane said...

12 year olds do not belong in college dorms. Plain and simple.