I always thought you had to have a high school diploma and decent grades to get into college, but apparently not.
We moved to California when my son was 12 years old and in the middle of 9th grade. He had started school early and then skipped 3rd grade. When I took him to the local high school to register him for classes, the vice-principal told me he would need to go down the street to the Middle School and enroll in 7th Grade. She didn’t care that he had finished the first semester of 9th Grade. She wouldn’t look at his transcript or test scores. She simply knew from his age that he would be better off in 7th Grade.
I knew other high school kids were taking classes at community colleges, so we went by our local college to ask about enrolling him in a class until we could find a high school that would accept him. After talking to my son for about 15 minutes, the Community College Registrar told me she would enroll him as a regular full-time student. He didn’t need a high school diploma. What he needed was to be in school, in a level appropriate for his needs, which wasn’t 7th Grade.
By law, he has to take at least 12 units per semester, which is less time in a classroom than going to high school. He is taking classes that interest him and choosing what time he wants to start school. This means getting up at the crack of noon instead of the crack of dawn. Teenagers do not do their best work at 8am! He was hired as a tutor by the college, which pays $11/hour, and he can tutor in any class he earned an A or B in.
My son is now 4 classes away from a 2 year degree and is majoring in Psychology. He has been on the Dean’s List and the State Honor Society, Alpha Gamma Sigma. He has been guaranteed enrollment as a Junior at a University of California campus near where we live as long as his GPA is at least 3.3 and he finishes all of his undergraduate course work at the community college.
He says college is like high school, but with older kids, and this has been another advantage of being in college. He never mingled with adolescents who are notorious for their bad attitudes and bad habits. We’ve never had an ounce of trouble, never a skipped class, never a hidden pack of cigarettes, or gum to hide the smell of alcohol on his breath. Maybe it’s the way he was raised or maybe it was because he has been treated like an adult, but I feel very lucky to have been spared the headaches that a lot of parents are having with their teenagers!
If your kid hates high school and isn’t challenged, is smart but gets poor grades, is depressed over the number of years ahead of him/her in high school, and would do better with fewer classes later in the day, then maybe it’s time to visit your local community college.
I can’t think of a downside to skipping high school, but there is one more advantage to going to community college for the first two years. The transition from High School to University is a lot smoother, and the costs are next to nothing compared to the universities. Remember that with a decent GPA, your student will slide right into Junior year at University with no need to take SATs, ACTs or any other stressful placement test.