Q:

Our talented eighth-grader scored a 1,200 on the math and verbal section of the SAT. Last summer, he went to a university's talent-identification program and loved it, both for the companionship of other gifted kids and the accelerated learning. A local college has its own high-school program in which the students take college classes and earn a high-school diploma plus three years of college credit. Our son thinks this program would be great. However, the college is small and he would miss high-school experiences, from football games to clubs to the prom. The other high-school students would be scattered in various classes around the college campus.

Our son has his post-high-school sights set on a prestigious university or state-university honors program. Recently, we were surprised to hear (possibly misinformation) that colleges frown on admitting students with a load of hours from another institution and little of the broadening experience of high school. What do you think of this? -- Decision-Making Time

A:

Don't depend on hearsay when deciding whether to enroll your son in this program. Call the admissions offices of schools that he might like to attend and get their official admissions policy. Schools have very different policies. Some colleges, including well-known state universities, might require him to apply as a transfer student. This would mean that he would enter college as a junior or senior and graduate at a very young age. This could work out fine if he will have the maturity to enter college as an upperclassman or plans to go on and study for advanced degrees.

However, there are many other colleges, especially very selective schools, that would expect your son to apply as a freshman because he was technically enrolled in high school while attending the local college. Once he was admitted, he could then petition for transfer credit. However, he might not receive any credits for the college courses taken to satisfy high-school-graduation requirements.

After you have done your research on college-admissions policies, your son might find it very helpful to talk to several current students in this program to learn about their experiences before making his decision. Another possibility is remaining at the local high school and taking a few courses at the college or advanced online courses.