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High schooler rakes in college credits

Shawn Foucher • May 10, 2014 at 10:40 AM

On the application of mathematics and science in the world of psychology, Thomas Chapman offers an astute observation.

“That’s the challenge. There is such a push to truly quantify those ethereal ideas in psychology. The things where we barely have words, let alone numbers. The big challenge now is to find the equations and numbers we have for every other science and truly create a description for the human mind in psychology”

Sound like the next great thinker in the land of psychology? How about a breakthrough researcher destined to map the human mind?

Chapman is none of those — yet.

For now, he’s an 18-year-old Edison High School student who, as you’re reading this, is preparing to walk in tonight’s commencement ceremony at BGSU Firelands.    

Chapman has earned his associate degree in science from BGSU Firelands, which he’ll have in hand as soon as as he has his high school diploma.

By the time he’s 20, he’ll quite likely have earned a bachelor’s degree at Bowling Green State University.

“Not many high schoolers can accomplish what Thomas Chapman has accomplished,” said Dean Schnurr, spokesman at BGSU Firelands. “It’s difficult to earn that much credit while also balancing high school obligations and their personal life”

Chapman, of Huron Township, is one of 11 high school-age students eligible to receive an associate degree at tonight’s commencement ceremony at BGSU Firelands. Three of those students will walk with their elder classmates to receive a degree.

They’re enrolled in BGSU Firelands’ College Access Programs: the Post Secondary Enrollment Options Program and Tech Prep. Each semester, about 650 high school students participate in the programs.

And each student’s achievement is impressive in its own right, as they’re all sharp-minded high schoolers tackling heaps of post-secondary academic work.

But Chapman’s story is a bit more unique.

Consider this: A high schooler in the Post Secondary Enrollment Options Program needs 62 college credits to earn an associate degree. Chapman has earned 100 credits. When he enrolls at Bowling Green State University’s main campus this fall, he’ll enter as a senior, which requires 92 credit hours.

“In theory, he could have his bachelor’s degree in less than a year” Schnurr said.

Chapman has always been something of a “left-brainer,” with a penchant for analysis, mathematics and hard science. He earns great grades, and he can carry a conversation like nobody’s business, weaving in and out of abstract thoughts and then re-interpreting it in layman’s terms for good measure.

His dad is a bank manager, and his mom is a general manager in the restaurant industry. He has a younger sister.

In his freshman year at Edison High School, he entered the Post Secondary Enrollment Options Program on a sort of introductory basis.

“That first year, I was taking one class each semester in the evening, out at Firelands, for college credit,” Chapman said. “Then the general plan was to go about 50-50, ease into it”

Plans changed. He was too young to drive, and as he grew into the program, it became something of a hassle to spend half the day at high school and half at the BGSU Firelands campus.

So he decided: “I’d be much better off taking the leap and going full-time”

Long story short, at the tender age of 15, he fit right into that sea of college classmates.

“I assumed I would stick out like a sore thumb, so to speak, I was so young,” he said. “But no one even noticed. No one noticed for years, up until this recent publicity”

He never looked back, never missed the high school scene.

“I miss none of it, I can say that fully,” he said. “The experience I’ve had at Firelands has been absolutely incredible. I would’t trade it for anything”

He served in student government and he also worked almost two years as a computer lab operator in one of the campus labs. When he heads to the main campus in a few months, he’ll be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Then, he plans to continue on toward a doctorate, quite likely in psychology.

For good measure, he also works summers at Toft Dairy.

Because no matter how old you are, or how smart you are, you still love ice cream.

“Nothing not to love there” he said.

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