Special Reports

What's It Like To Start College Early? A New York College Student Shares Her Experiences


It's hard enough starting college at 18, imagine what it's like to be a freshman at an early age. 12-year-olds Jeremy Shuler and Cendikiawan (Diki) Suryaatmadja will be college freshmen this year at Cornell University and at the University of Waterloo, respectively.

Stories of child prodigies such as Michael Kearney, Alia Sabur, Adragon De Mello, Colin Carlson, Sho Yano and Tathagat Avatar Tulsi have provided a glimpse of how they were able to succeed in college even before they became voters. Most of these young geniuses earned their bachelor's degrees before they turned 18.

Speaking to USA Today College, Petra Zarah Jarrar, a college student at The New School in New York City, shared her experience when she started university at 16 years old. Jarrar revealed how she tried to look and act older than she truly was in order to fit in with her classmates.

Jarrar admitted that she enjoyed higher education since her professors never treated her differently from her classmates. "My professors treated me like any other student in the classroom, which I feel extraordinarily grateful for," she said.

Before starting college, though, she logged on to Facebook and hid her birthday information from her profile. "I have no idea what made me so ashamed of letting people know who I truly was," she wrote in an article for The New School Free Press.

She advised students who want to start college at an early age to not be afraid of being who they are. Moreover, younger students should not have to pretend to be someone that they're not just to become popular. She also urged students to not be afraid to talk about their age and to remember that education is a privilege.

"Wherever you go in life, there will always be people who would admire and adore the person they see standing in front of them," she said. "One might be scared to be open about who they are, yet what people fail to see is that people will always like you for who you actually are than the person you are pretending to be."

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