High schooler rakes in college credits

Thomas Chapman earns associate degree, could earn bachelor’s in a year
Shawn Foucher
May 10, 2014


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.



This opportunity has been available to area high school students for over twenty years. Some schools discourage this option. Reason... the money supplied by the state follows the student to the new school.

For those students with a desire to push themselves it's a fantastic option. It can be comparable to a $50,000 free scholarship.

Student and parents........wake up!



AJ Oliver

Way to go Thomas !! Isn't learning fun?
But I am going to predict that you find behavioralism to be a dead end. Here is a good article on the subject . .

A Young Adult's...

I think high school is a necessity for at least the majority of it. You learn social skills there that cannot be learned afterward.

That being said, congratulations.

William Jeffers...

Their are a bunch of kids in this similar situation and they all socialize with each other and the older students, some only a year out or two ahead of them...plus they can still participate in school sports, etc.

William Jeffers...

Oops...meant "there". Obviously I'm not one of the kids who participated in this program.

Dr. Information

Congrats young man. Its nice to see a young man pushing himself and doing what he needs to do to better himself down the road instead of reading on here all the time about this younger generation wanting everything without putting the work in.

Here is a prime example that EVERYONE has a shot at bettering themselves for free. No excuses, no I wasn't born rich or I didn't have the last name.

A Young Adult's...

Oh chill with the "younger generation" garbage. This younger generation is no more entitled than any of the baby boomers.

Dr. Information

Most baby boomers worked and paid into the system. Most had families they could support. Most were not on some type of government assistance.

The truth strikes a nerve again.


Your the one who bought race into this, your stating that because he is helping community college students, and community college students are majority black - then this means his motivation is based on race. Blacks make up 15% of community college students, your logic is based in ignorance and hence you have made a bigoted statement, pre-judging the situation, prejudice, not cool.

Regards, my blog