Saturday, November 22, 2014

College for Young Teens

For the start of the ideas series, go here.  (I'll admit up front that I'm coming at this one from a place of ignorance.  I tried searching to see if this was being done and I couldn't find anything.  If I'm wrong, please let me know in the comments.)

Sometimes there are special children who don't fit well in our school system.  I'm talking about the geniuses that skip through school and wind up in college as young teens.  In fiction, this is well represented by Sheldon Cooper but they exist in real life as well.
It's my understanding that we don't really have a good set up for these prodigies.  I'm thinking of people like Ted Kaczynski and James Dallas Egbert III here.  Each of them started college very early and their lives became very messed up.  One of the obvious issues here is that college is set up for people aged 18-22.  That's a tough place for a 14 year old, especially if they have some socialization issues (again, think of Sheldon Cooper). 
I don't know what number of geniuses qualify for what I'm speaking of, but we should make an effort with them.  What I'm proposing is a set of colleges specifically for them.  Even if we just spoke of the top 10,000 teenagers in the US, that would be large enough to work with.  There could be a set of campuses in various spots around the country.  These would either specialize in various areas (engineering, math, psychology) or they could piggy-back upon existing colleges.  For instance, a campus in Boston could work with both Harvard and MIT.
Each campus would be staffed with people that would be specially trained to work with special children.  There would be extra support for the very young being away from their families.  Perhaps extra counselors would be provided.  The goal would be to have a top level education available, while protecting kids that have more needs than the average college student. 
This would require special focus, but it would be completely worth it.

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