WASHINGTON – While community colleges report seeing younger and younger students, as home schoolers flock to local campuses to get a head-start on their college educations, few are seeing students as young as Sarah Keely.
The 13-year-old is already finishing her first year at Hagerstown Community College.
“She’s ready for it, she really enjoys doing it,” said Sarah’s mother, Jeannie, who still home schools her daughter in the classes she is not taking on campus.
Mrs. Keely, like many parents who home school their children, says the open-access policy at community colleges allows Sarah to be continually challenged at an early age.
Sarah already has six credits under her belt and is taking another six this semester. She started out last year taking trigonometry and information technologies and is now taking geography and English 100.
“She’s a very enthusiastic student,” said Suzannah Moran, who teaches Sarah’s geography class, in which many of the students are older adults. “She seems to really enjoy being in class . . . she does very well.”
“I really like all my classes,” she said. “And not too many notice my age, they treat me just like a normal college student.”
The only time her age came up was when a fellow classmate asked Sarah to study with him. Sarah had to turn him down because her mother was not able to drive her to meet him and she still has three years until she’s old enough to drive herself.
“The person who wanted me to be a study partner was really surprised when he found out how old I was,” Sarah said, giggling. “It was really funny.”
Sarah said she especially enjoys being home schooled and attending college classes at the same time because it still leaves her enough time to spend with her family. She only spends about three hours a day on school work and spends her other hours reading, taking tennis lessons from her uncle and playing piano.
“I’m enjoying each year as it comes,” she said.
Sarah has already scored an 1,160 of a possible 1,600 on her practice Scholastic Aptitude Test. She plans to take the SAT for real this summer and said she hopes to complete her associate’s degree by the time she’s 17, she said.
And then Sarah’s father Bill, says he will “grudgingly let her go to college.”
“We’ll have to check her maturity first,” he said.