College Wary of 12-Year-Old Whiz Kid

Colin Carlson's summer has been very different from those of other kids his age.

Instead of video games, sleepovers and summer camp, the 12-year-old has spent the last couple of months wondering where he'll attend college this fall.

Colin, who earned his high school diploma from Stanford University Online High School in June, had planned to go to Connecticut College, where he intended to double major in eco-biology and environmental studies.

But his dreams of the quintessential college experience on the liberal arts campus were ruined, his mother told, when school administrators told him he wouldn't be allowed to set foot in a campus dormitory.

According to his family, the college went back on an agreement that would have permitted Colin to be affiliated with a dormitory even though he would live off campus with his mother -- an aspect of campus life the family says is imperative to the college experience.

"They said no to giving him a dorm affiliation, which is a problem because all school events rely on that," said Jessica Carlson, Colin's mother. "Colin would have been completely left out of the community [without an affiliation]."

Carlson said she got the distinct impression from conversations with the administration that having Colin at school was "too much trouble."

So the family turned its sights to the state university down the road. Colin will begin as a sophomore honors student at the University of Connecticut in a few weeks. He's skipping freshman year because he has already earned several college credits from the University of Connecticut as a part-time student, as well as advanced placement course work while he was home-schooled.

But he says he was still disappointed with Connecticut College's decision.

"I just wanted to be a part of the liberal arts community -- and that wouldn't have been possible without dorm affiliation," said Colin.

Concerns About Drugs, Alcohol?

Jessica Carlson said she believes her son's possible exposure to drug and alcohol use in the dorm was the reason the school denied the dorm affiliation, though she added that school administrators never explicitly told her that was the reason.

"The deans at the school told me in a phone conversation that they were concerned about the adult activities that took place in the dorms," said Carlson, who added that she never intended for her son to be permitted to live in a dormitory. She said she had already found an apartment in which she had planned to live with Colin while he was attending the college.

Connecticut College declined to confirm that Colin had been admitted to the school, but one of the college deans told in a statement that the school had problems with a 12-year-old entering a campus residence hall.

"As a matter of policy, Connecticut College does not condone the presence of 12-year-old children in residence halls after hours," Aramando Bengochea, the dean of the college community, said in a statement. "Residence halls are considered to be adult residences, and all programming and supervision of students in residence is predicated on an assumption that students can be treated as adults."

His mother pointed out that any concerns about Colin's age could have been offset by his abstention from some of the activities known to entice college freshman.

"The point is that he's no trouble at all," said Carlson. "My son doesn't vandalize, cheat, have sex, do drugs or drink."

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