Students who choose early college entrance enter the adult world several years earlier than most of their peers, presenting changes that may be a great challenge for students and their families.
During the 2019 meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Professor Nancy Hertzog of the University of Washington College of Education shared findings from a series of interviews with the parents of children who participated in an early entrance program at the UW. Hertzog’s study explores the reasons and motivations behind families’ decisions for early college entrance, as well as their expectations, concerns and experiences during the transition period and beyond.
On the whole, Hertzog said the interviews revealed that parents gave their children autonomy in making the decision to pursue early entrance and had open conversations regarding the pros and cons of going to college early.
With students facing greater academic demands in an early entrance program, Hertzog said parental support was significant, and parents insisting on breaks from their work, feeding them well, and not expecting children to engage in ordinary activities they once did with the family.
Hertzog, director of the Robinson Center for Young Scholars at the UW, said another key finding was that while parents appreciated the early entrance program’s support for parents, they wanted even more robust opportunities to engage with one another.
“[Parents] feel it’s an isolating thing sometimes for them because they don’t have the camaraderie of other parents like they do in high school events, or being able to see grades and talk about school with other parents, because their children are coming from all over the Puget Sound area,” Hertzog said. “They talked about wanting to get together with other parents and learning more about how to support their children.”
At the end of the program, Hertzog said parents spoke of how their children had grown in confidence and found the transition to college eased after experiencing the rigorous work expected of them in the year before entering college.
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications