By James Mishra
I earned the first half of my University of Minnesota Computer Science degree while in high school. This was only possible with the multitude of high school programs available to high school students in the Minneapolis / St. Paul metropolitan area.
The name of the course was Introduction to Engineering Design, which taught me about the engineering process, how engineers write technical documents, and how engineers bring products to market. During the course, I received a considerable amount of instruction in designing 3D models and producing working drawings with Autodesk Inventor Professional.
I took Introduction to Engineering Design in ninth grade, and I continued on the PLTW track by taking Principles of Engineering in tenth grade, and then Computer Integrated Manufacturing in eleventh grade.
My high school provided a few Advanced Placement courses for me to take. I completed the Advanced Placement courses in US History and World History through my high school. However, the greatest advantage I gained from Advanced Placement was the ability to take tests for classes I had never taken.
In high school, I had taken rigorous courses in physics and biology, but they did not advance me in my University of Minnesota Computer Science degree. I was able to successfully study and pass the AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Biology exams, despite not taking the corresponding courses.
Through advanced placement, I avoided repeating courses in physics and biology at the college level.
My high school did not provide every Advanced Placement course, as it chose to replace some of them with College In the Schools courses. Rather than having to take a standardized test to earn college credit, CIS courses allowed the student to earn credit just by the performance in the course--effectively, the high school course was identical to a college one.
In an effort to accelerate my high school and college education at the same time, I registered for summer courses at the University of Minnesota during the Summer of 2012.
I took introductory microeconomics and introductory public speaking--these were semester-long courses that were shortened into sixteen days of three-hour sessions.
UMTYMP is a heavily accelerated program that most students enter in elementary or middle school. If a very young, very talented mathematics student can pass the entrance exam, then he or she commutes to the University of Minnesota once a week to receive accelerated instructions from the top mathematics talent at the University.
I entered directly into the Calculus I program (equivalent to Calc I and II at a traditional university) in the eleventh grade. I was eligible to continue in the program during my senior year, but I left to do PSEO.
For my final year of high school, I applied to PSEO at the University of Minnesota, which allowed me to take all of my high school courses (and my first college courses) at the University of Minnesota.
In addition to being a full time University of Minnesota student, PSEO helped launch my career in software engineering--I was able to find employment in two research labs and an electronics firm while I was a PSEO student.