Last Updated on June 30, 2022 by David Shaw
So you’re a high school student or parent wondering if you or your children can enter college below the age of 18, then you’re not alone. If you’re worried about whether will your children or yourself be denied admission for being a minor, this article is here to help you.
So what’s the minimum eligible age to attend college?
Generally, there is no age limit for admission into colleges according to the US Educational Code. Although 17 years old is commonly known as the minimum age, even children of ages 15 or 16 can enroll in colleges. However, certain states might have exceptions to limit admissions based on age or grade level.
Although a minor’s age might not be the barrier to entering college, there can be several other challenges a young college student will face. Let’s further address them and discuss several other related questions.
Trends of Younger Teens Entering College Is Getting More Common
According to the data below from the year 1970 to 2019, the highest age group of people in the US enrolled in higher education are among 18 to 21 year-olds. With over 50% of the young teenagers’ age group increasing in enrollment over the years, this trend clearly shows that the norm of young teenagers pursuing college is trending.
With the growing demand and trend of minors pursuing college at a young age, expect universities to be equipped with the expertise and departments to accommodate young teens. With departments across most campuses offering counseling and mental health services, it helps them navigate through classes while also curate a better learning environment for young individuals in college.
With that said, if you’re a young teenager around the age of 16 worrying about making friends in college, you’ll likely be fine as there will definitely be a like-minded social circle just for you. As an easy start, look out for campus clubs of your interests and join clubs where you can work with students of similar interests in interest projects. There, you will definitely find like-minded friends who have no prejudice against befriending younger peers.
Being Too Young in College Has Its Challenges
Starting out college at a young age does have its perks as well as drawbacks. Looking on the bright side, the younger an individual graduates from college or university, the earlier they can have exposure to practical, real-life experiences in the workforce.
However, not all minors are mentally prepared to navigate through college easily when it comes to communicating with older peers or adults due to the difference in their level of maturity unless they’re the young Sheldon Cooper.
Minors in College Won’t Get Special Treatment Just Because of Their Slight Age Difference
When it comes to how classes are conducted, minors in college will not be subjected to special treatments, just like every other student. Unlike the disabled, if minors ever need special accommodation like extra time for assignments or tests, they most likely wouldn’t be granted similar privileges.
As a friendly advice, it will likely be more accommodating for minors to attend private academic institutions compared to public ones due to better exposure of resources and compassionate faculty board which you can mostly find in private colleges.
Young Age Won’t Slow Down Your Progress
Despite the social or communication hindrances, it is a process every minor has to go through in college. However, these challenges don’t academically contribute to slowing down their college progress.
If a minor qualifies to enter a good college, it simply implies they’re deeply interested or talented in certain fields of study. When a minor shows great interest in an academic program from a particular university interesting, chances are the faculty will think highly of these candidates to offer admission. If they set their focus on the right things, some can even graduate earlier than expected from the typical timeline.
Here are some great examples of minors who started out college at really young ages:
1. Kathleen Holtz
Age during graduation: 15
Kathleen Holtz was a young prodigy who started college at young age 10 and entered law school at 15. Holtz later went on with her higher learning career and graduated from UCLA’s School of Law in 2007.
2. Moshe Kai Cavalin
Age during graduation: 15
Cavalin was already taking math classes at East Los Angeles College at the age of 10 way ahead of his peers. By the age of 15, he’d already earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from UCLA.
3. Sho Yano
Age during graduation: 12
Yano obtained his first Bachelor’s Degree from Loyola University in three years when he was a freshly admitted 9-year-old. In 2012, at the age of 21, Yano even became the youngest student in the University of Chicago‘s history to receive a Master’s Degree.
Sources: Insider, Chicago Tribune, University of Chicago, Los Angeles Times
These figures are just a few of the prime examples of minors who excelled well in college at a young age. Although their accomplishments are far superior in reality compared to most cases, but they serve as a great example to show young peers that it can be possible. With all their grand accomplishments, it just goes to show how one should bravely excel academically in a subject that interests them regardless of their age.
What To Expect Before and After Admission
When it comes to the admission process for minors, there should be extra steps needed for clearance usually in the case of special admissions. Before a minor is eligible to attend college, there would be certain examinations like GED or SAT required to be met in order to qualify.
- Be prepared to do some paperwork
When it comes to legal documentation, expect a little paperwork from the admission process as minors usually need to sign documents with the help of their parents or legal guardians. Other than that, documentation for banking accounts, dormitory, and insurance similarly might require endorsements by their parents or legal guardians.
- Age consent For Signing Documents
Age consent is an issue when it comes to the agreement of certain contracts. Be it your dormitory, school documents, or bank accounts, minors under the age of 18 are subjected to consent from parents to sign to be the legal guarantor or supporter for the responsibility of your liabilities. Unless you fake the signature, parent’s or legal guardian’s signatures are usually required for signing documents or contracts as a minor.
- Social life
Social life can be hectic and tough, especially when students 3-5 years above your age are engaging in activities not relevant to minors. Activities like drinking and relationships which revolves greatly among college students are either not legal or appropriate for minors, so make sure to get educated well on social skills and usage of substance in college. However, your story could be a great conservation starter, leverage this opportunity to make as many friends and learn from them as they are more mature and experienced in the college experience.
Help Is Readily Available Across the Campus
Students across campus are generally very laidback and helpful especially if you’re a minor. Be respectful, and there is no reason for anyone to turn down your request for help whenever needed.
Campuses are also usually filled with great faculty and resources that are ready to assist you both academically and mentally anytime. If you’re a minor, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Know it is completely normal to ask questions if you ever need more help. There are many people in college willing to help out anyone in need, and the next thing you know, there are many people on campus who cares about you as long speak up or ask for help.
Is a high school diploma required for college? – In the United States, most colleges have exceptions that do not require a high school diploma or attendance to be considered for admission.
Can minors take entrance exams like SAT, ACT, AP, or GED? – Standardized college entrance exams in the US do not have age limits, there is no upper or lower age limit for candidates who wish to take these exams.