College at age 14 is the most common topic of conversation for me. It’s the first question that anyone asks– I think I’ve discussed this at least 5,000 times in my life, which makes it easy for me to write a blogpost on the topic!
How did I start college at age 14? I took a high school proficiency exam called the CHSPE after finishing 10th grade. The CHSPE is unique to California. Other high school proficiency exams include the GED and Kahsee. You can also take classes for free at community college as a high school student, which helps you accumulate credits, save money, and graduate faster. It was hard to balance studying for the CHSPE with maintaining my grades, but I did it. After class, I stayed behind to ask my math teacher to teach me certain concepts from the exam that we didn’t cover yet.
Why did I start college at age 14? That’s the more interesting question, isn’t it? No one really cares about logistics unless they’re trying to do the same thing as I did. First, I wanted to kick-start my career. I always knew that I wanted to go into clinical psychology. I am deeply fascinated by the brain and human cognition, so it seemed like a “no-brainer”. Pun intended. I recommend going to college early if you have an idea of which field you’d like to study.
Next, I chose college because I wanted to accelerate the speed that I grew up. College caused me to grow up fast. My siblings say that I was born an adult, but the last time I remember actually acting like a kid was when I was 13. Aka, before college. I was always self-motivated, but I had one semester in college when I “rebelled” a bit by staying out late every night with my friends. I got straight-B’s as a result. It scared me. My dream was to transfer to UCLA, and the semester after that, I took 28 units (9 classes) to fix my GPA. At the same time, I was on the debate team, president of an honors club, volunteering as a moderator for a website, and writing for the newspaper. The stress was overwhelming, but hey, it worked. I got in.
Where am I now? UCLA tested me in many ways. For the first time, I considered psychiatry instead of psychology, which required taking many pre-med classes.
I thought that once I got into a prestigious university, my life would be amazing. UCLA is a great place, but during my first few quarters, I was deeply miserable. All I did was study. I had no social life. I woke up at 5 am to commute. Eventually, though, I found my footing. I became more active in the Jewish programs, got a job, and wrote for one of the college magazines. The good thing about attending a challenging university is that you spend all your time studying, so you realize quickly which types of subjects you enjoy spending so much time on. After taking 2 neuroscience classes in my last quarter, I realized that I like the brain, but I don’t necessarily want to see the inside of one. I’m squeamish and I love psychology way more than medicine. That’s why I chose neuropsychology. It combines my love for the brain with my love of human interaction. My goal is to open a private practice and conduct assessments for people with concussions and epilepsy, as well as psychological disorders, like Autism.
The takeaway: I believe that starting college at age 14 was the best decision I made in my life. Even so, the age that you start college is a unique decision for each person. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do at each stage of your life.