Being 17 in college


    Starting college at a young age comes with challenges for some of the 74 TCU students who enrolled as minors this fall.

    Hayley McCurdy, a first-year broadcast journalism major, said she faced several such challenges at the beginning of the semester.

    For example, she had papers that needed to be signed but, at age 17, she couldn’t legally give authorization.

    “I would have to call my parents and get permission to forge their signatures or fax a copy to them for them to sign,” McCurdy said. “It was all just a big hassle.”

    Allison Vidor, a first-year business major, and MacGregor Hall, a first-year biology major, both entered college at the age of 17. Vidor and Hall both agreed with McCurdy, saying getting forms signed was inconvenient because of their age.

    Most traditional college students enroll at 18, but a growing number of students started classes at 17, according to the TCU Fact Book. Over the past ten years, the number of students who have enrolled in classes under the age of 18 has increased over 321 percent.

    This year’s 74 students are an increase from the 23 students who were under the age of 18 enrolled in the university in 2003, according to the 2013 TCU Fact Book.

    Ray Brown, the dean of admission at TCU, said when admitting younger students, admissions looks to see why the students are so young. For example, if they are graduating high school a year early, admissions makes sure the students have exhausted their high school’s curriculum and not just satisfied their high school’s graduation requirements.

    Although Vidor, McCurdy, and Hall all entered college at the same age, they each have different circumstances.

    Vidor said her parents put her in kindergarten a year early, which caused her to always be a year younger than her classmates.

    McCurdy, on the other hand, said she got a year ahead by going straight to first grade instead of kindergarten.

    “When most people find out I’m younger than them, they immediately think I’m a kid genius, and I skipped a grade,” she said. “All I did was not go to kindergarten. It’s not that big of a deal.”

    However, Hall got a year ahead by being the “kid genius” that most people think McCurdy is.

    Hall said he went from the third grade to the fifth grade in elementary school, skipping the fourth grade.

    “People usually find out I’m younger because I have a sister who is also in her first year here,” Hall said. “People ask if we’re twins, and that’s when I tell them I’m younger.”

    Vidor and McCurdy said being a year younger than everyone else has some social disadvantages.

    They both said they hated not being able to go out with their friends to Billy Bob’s at the beginning of the semester.

    “My friends always want to go out, and I can’t even legally get in Billy Bob’s,” Vidor said. “That just sucks.”

    McCurdy said another disadvantage of being younger is finding a job because most employers don’t want to hire someone her age.

    John Thompson, executive director of career services at TCU, said being a year or two younger probably would not cause any disadvantages when it comes to getting a job and starting a career post-graduation.

    “What matters is the degree,” he said.

    McCurdy, Vidor, and Hall all agreed that there are disadvantages to being a year younger than everyone else, but they all said they love being in college and wouldn’t change a thing.