Regarding Young Students on Campus

Regarding Young Students on  Campus
Because her son is still a minor, this guest author is writing under a pen name. If you have specific comments or questions for her, please post to the Gifted Education message board or send an email to the site editor.

Issue #1: Can it be safe for a young student to be on campus alone, living there or even merely attending classes?

According to a column published in USA Today:
“From 2001 through 2005, just 76 homicides were reported on college campuses in the USA, based on a database of incidents assembled from the FBI, the Department of Education and various news sources. Leaving aside cases involving faculty, staff or other non-students as victims, the count of undergrads and grad students murdered at school numbered 43. That's fewer than 10 per year, on average. When compared with virtually any metropolitan area, a student's chances of dying by homicide actually decreases once he or she steps on campus. And of the homicides reported on campuses, the majority were acquaintance killings or drug deals gone bad.”

My own sense of things is that children walking to public school, biking around the neighborhood, and playing at a local playground are more at risk of harm than anyone of any age walking around on a college campus.

Issue #2: Won’t a younger student feel isolated being in a college dorm with people aged 18 and up? And who would want to room with someone so much younger?

This will depend on both the student’s social skills and general outlook on life. My son started living in graduate housing at age 14 and has always had suitemates in the 20’s. He has been very active socially and politically at his dorm (won an officer award his first year there, won an award for having been one of three students who gave the most to the dorm community the first time he was eligible in year two, was voted by the dorm community to be an officer in the dorm government, etc.). He’s played beach soccer and gone swimming during retreats and day trips with graduate students. With one suitemate he’s had for the past two years, he’s: played squash, played keyboards till 5 AM, gone out to eat and to movies, cooked dinner in their apartment, etc. He moved to another graduate dorm this summer and his suitemates could have opted to room with other students, but both wanted to be his suitemates again, as did other graduate students (including at least one female). In addition to going to parties, dances, BBQs, a harbor cruise, an amusement park, and more with graduate students, he’s also been very active in the undergraduate community and attended parties and other functions at undergraduate dorms, fraternity houses, and at least one living community. He’s also done things socially with faculty (off campus dinners and parties, for example). Finally, he’s always had friends his chronological age for whom he takes a train about ninety minutes off campus to visit fairly often and does things like go sledding, play Apples to Apples, attend various functions (high school dances, birthday slumber parties, cocoa houses, movie potluck dinners, etc.) and many of his friends have come from cities in three states to go out and do things with him (formal dinner dance, lunches and dinners, swan boat
ride, walking around downtown, etc.). He and his faculty advisor also have for the past year and a half invited any of his teen friends who are interested to come to the lab’s weekly group meetings to take part as much as they wish in lab projects, and at least one friend had attended almost every week since the start.

Issue #3: Can a student really get much out of living in a dorm, as aren’t their vast social and emotional gaps between someone who is in their late teens to twenties and someone years younger?

There is a vast social and emotional gap between *average* children who are say 12 to 16 and *average* 18 to 22-year-olds. It's easy for people to say young but clearly academically advanced people are less socially and emotionally mature because unlike an academic level, it's usually based on subjectivity and their own ever so small sample size of anecdotes rather than any kind of research. Never do I see any *research* posted to back up the notion that a young kid can't have emotional and social levels to match the intellectual/academic level, likely because there isn't. Indeed, what research I’ve read has all concluded that high IQ and/or academically accelerated students have equal to *higher* social and emotional levels of maturity. For example, the Defining Issues Test is a test of moral reasoning (one sign of
social and emotional maturity) and for a group of children all below the mean age of American junior high students but with high IQs, all of them scored above the mean for American junior high students and 50% scored above the mean for American high school students, and two (aged 12 years 1 month and 12 years 3 months) scored above the mean for college students (reference: Exceptionally Gifted Children by Miraca Gross).
Our son was not part of that study, but was given this test at age 8 by a different psychologist and even at 8, already scored college level. My son is pretty smart, but his comments from people have always been more about his being incredibly adept socially and emotionally than his being intelligent, likely because there is a myth about how children can’t have all three be advanced and so they are more surprised to see a child be socially and emotionally advanced than solely intellectual advanced. People need to understand that just as there are people who are top athletes and also very intelligent, there are also young people who are wise beyond their chronological age and not merely academically advanced.

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