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Family Fights Decision Blocking 13-Year-Old from College

You probably know all about dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses, two strategies used by high school students to get into college-level work sooner and set themselves up for graduating from college early (or even on time). But how early is too early to get started on that college education? Lake-Sumter Community College says 13.

Thirteen-year-old Anastasia Megan and her parents have filed an age-discrimination complaint against the community college with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to fight the school’s decision to reject Anastasia’s application for dual enrollment. According to a recent article in the Orlando Sentinel, Anastasia, a home-schooled student, has already breezed through her high school curriculum, and her parents say they no longer have the means to challenge her academically.

Officials at Lake-Sumter Community College say it would be inappropriate for Anastasia (or anyone of her age, as the college is unable to talk about the case specially) to enroll at the school because it could pose a safety risk. The college attracts a large number of adult students, and unlike a high school where there may be some limits as to who enters the school, Lake-Sumter is open to anyone who wishes to come onto the campus. In the article, the school’s president Charles Mojock says: “And we have many adult students having adult conversations on adult topics and that may or may not be suitable for some young students.” The growth in young applicants, some as young as 8 years old, even led the school to add a minimum-age requirement of 15, according to the article.

Anastasia’s parents, meanwhile, say their daughter is “well-suited” for college, and has experience among adults from a number of international trips she has taken with her parents and siblings. She has completed online college courses successfully, and had above-average scores on the college-placement tests required as part of the admissions process by Lake-Sumter. If the Department of Education rules on the side of the college, Anastasia’s parents said they may need to supplement their daughter’s education in other ways, perhaps by more world travel. Lake-Sumter is the only college in the area that Anastasia could attend that would not mean a move away from home for the family.

What do you think? Should Anastasia be allowed onto a college campus at 13? Should her parents look instead into high schools for gifted students that may allow her to socialize with kids her age? How young is too young for the college experience?

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Discuss

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Jennifer W  on  6/18/2010 2:19:05 AM commented:

Anastasia should be allowed to attend Lake-Sumter Community College! From reading this blog alone, I realize that she is different from an average thirteen year old child. She needs to move forward instead of staying behind with kids her age. If the President of Sumter Community College is so "concerned" about the child being exposed to "adult" conversations then he should also be concerned about the child's potential of growing not being secured in a tiny bubble where she can't grow. It doesn't make sense to not let a child of thirteen years of age attend community college just because of the things they might be exposed to. The child has to face the reality of this word sooner or later. I think there should be no age limit. Everyone has his/her own pace in learning and we shouldn't stop Anastasia's even if it means being in a different environment than her age group. It will ultimately allow Anastasia to have an integrated learning opportunity of communication, learning, and being in the presence of adults.

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