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Simon’s Rock Early College This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Great Barrington, MA: When I went to college after tenth grade, many of my former classmates wrongly assumed that I had gone to a boarding school. I've grown accustomed to explaining that it's possible for me to be 17-years-old and a sophomore in college.

Until a couple of years ago I was not aware that there were alternatives to the traditional public school system. As a sophomore in high school, I came across Bard College at Simon's Rock, a liberal arts school in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. This institution offers students the unique opportunity to begin college after their sophomore or junior year of high school. I've wanted to become a writer since I was very young. This ambition brought me to Simon's Rock for the Young Writers Workshop and serendipitously led to my enrollment in its early college. There I learned to organize my thoughts and write essays and stories in many genres.

Simon's Rock has a superb faculty; every class I've taken has been an engaging experience. Professors use a roundtable format that lends itself to lively discussions. Because the classes are small, teachers are very approachable, and collaborating with them is easy and organic.

Those at Simon's Rock have helped me mature as a thinker and opened my mind to new ways of looking at things. This is a small community that brings together students from diverse cultures, nationalities, and backgrounds. We have gotten to know one another very well – one of the advantages of the small class size. The environment allows me to mingle with people of many interests whom I would not have been exposed to otherwise. Two of my housemates, for example, are expert ceramicists, and I've developed a sincere appreciation of their art.

Conversations about issues ranging from politics, to religion, art and literature have been the best part of campus life. Everyone brings a fresh perspective to the table. Over the course of these two years, my class has become my family.

Simon's Rock is not the only school that offers higher education to younger students. Another program is the Bard High School Early College in New York City. Ambitious teenagers may benefit from these options if their high school education isn't helping them reach their potential. High schools put a lot of emphasis on preparing students for standardized tests. This practice leaves much to be desired as students rush to answer multiple-choice questions to beat the ticking clock. And the pressure placed on teachers to ensure their students succeed on these exams limits their ability to hold open discussions, digress from the curriculum, and allow students to explore ideas.

I was fortunate to have stumbled onto Simon's Rock. I've returned to my former high school several times during breaks and found that even some teachers and guidance counselors are unfamiliar with the concept of early college. National Public Radio recently did a segment that described the college and its curriculum in depth. This publicity captured the attention of several students in the class below mine, and ultimately led to their enrollment.

I'd like more students to be aware of the fact that their high school is not the only option out there. If you're a motivated teenager looking to enhance your education, visit Simon's Rock, sit in on a class, and consider whether starting college early is right for you. As Joel and Ethan Coen, two famous Simon's Rock alums, wrote in their Academy award-winning film “No Country for Old Men,” “You stand to win everything.” See more at simons-rock.edu.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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This article has 33 comments. Post your own!

xfracturedsmile said...
Oct. 6, 2010 at 8:33 pm:
I actually received a brochure in the mail about Bard College at Simon's Rock's Early College recently and although I thought it was such a cool idea and an experience that I might be interested in there were some factors that made me decide not to apply.However, I did apply for the Writer's Workshop for this past summer but got wait-listed unfortunately. Your essay is really well written and really got me interested in an alternative education. I actually live near Great Barringt... (more »)
 
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mensa4life said...
Sept. 19, 2010 at 12:19 pm:
I go to an Early College High School Too bt mines in Laredo Texas=) its great to hear other ppls stories of their experience there. Thanks for sharing yours and spreading the word about this great program:)
 
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Bloodfangz said...
Jun. 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm:

You forget to mention the most essential part of the Simon's Rock experience: Dodgeball! Hittem in the face, Bloodfangz!

 

 
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away said...
Jun. 14, 2010 at 10:13 pm:
heartfelt. love drips from your words, and i find that telling of how great a place the rock can be. 
 
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aaron said...
Jun. 14, 2010 at 11:45 am:

this is a great article dan.

Simons Rock is a wonderful home and I can't wait to come back this August.

I have learned so much about myself and about life in general. I have made friends that i love more than anything in the world. And I've had some of the most fun I've ever had.

 
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panda said...
Jun. 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm:
adorable article 
 
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fearnloathinginGB said...
Jun. 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm:
you're the man, yo <3

yup, simon's rock is an amazing place... if you think you need it, you do -- but don't expect to come out of it in your right mind :)
 
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Clairepoetry said...
May 24, 2010 at 10:13 am:
this is so intresting i think i will research this school myself i will be a junior next fall so maybe this would be a good experince for me.
 
Notimelikethepresent This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm :
That's great! Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have.
 
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Rivermad said...
May 3, 2010 at 10:24 am:

My daughter is a current student at Simon's Rock, having entered after her junior year of her nationally acclaimed high school, which was not giving her the intellectual stimulation and guidance she craved. She received her AA last year, and has decided to stay on to earn her BA as well. She is currently studying abroad, but will be back in the fall to begin her senior year thesis.

I just wanted to tell you her story to point out that Simon's Rock is also a regular (well, hardly regula... (more »)

 
tehehe rocker replied...
May 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm :
iris? miss her
 
NoSleep replied...
Jun. 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm :

but of course everyone is insane there... not to give names

 

 

good school but not always worthwile with the amount of stress and crazy people which accompanies the school. not to mention how much money it costs and how little the students see used to their benefit.

 

good article thou, the author willl always be in my heart :P

 
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spontaneous09 said...
Apr. 24, 2010 at 9:44 pm:
Thank you for putting that out there. I actually received letters from this college and I thought the idea was quite brilliant. Though I'm going to wait until after I graduate, I think it's great that your letting people know that there are options out there for people who really want to achieve!
 
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