A College Graduate at Age 14
Amber Bennett earns Associate of Arts degree before finishing her freshman year of high school
Patience framed Amber Bennett’s pursuit of an Associate of Arts degree from Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®). She slowly picked away at graduation requirements over three years while taking classes fall, spring and summer.
“I took my time,” Bennett said of her nine-semester journey. “I really didn’t want to rush things.”
Few would share that belief.
Bennett is set to become a college graduate at age 14, a few weeks before finishing her freshman year of high school with Ohio Connections Academy. She expects to earn a second degree from Tri-C — an Associate of Science — this summer.
The Richmond Heights teen followed the same path as her older sister, Angel, who earned a degree from Tri-C in 2018 at age 16. (In true sibling rivalry fashion, Amber makes it a point to mention she graduated sooner.)
Both attended Tri-C through College Credit Plus, a dual enrollment system allowing students to take college courses to meet high school graduation requirements. The program is open to students in grades seven through 12 who are academically ready for more rigorous coursework.
Few students begin at the earliest allowed age, though. State reports show that Bennett was one of only 74 Ohio seventh-graders in College Credit Plus when she walked onto Tri-C’s Eastern Campus in 2017.
Her mother said she had no worries about the 12-year-old beginning college.
“Amber was always watching her sister,” said Angelita Bennett, also a Tri-C graduate. “She knew what was coming. She was excited to start.”
Bennett said professors and older students watched out for her and made her feel welcome. She thrived in the campus environment, with grades that earned her an invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Like her mother and sister, Bennett will graduate with academic honors.
Her next goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree before her high school diploma. She is set to begin classes at Notre Dame College in South Euclid this fall to study psychology. A Tri-C course convinced her to pursue that major.
Bennett said Tri-C and College Credit Plus offered her a head start on life without building debt. The dual enrollment program covers tuition, books and fees at public colleges.
“If you’re a kid thinking about this, don’t be scared,” she said. “Just go for it.”
Bennett can expect at least one person to take her advice. Her sister Anita, who is 11, plans to enroll at Tri-C this summer to begin working toward her degree. She intends to graduate earlier than either one of her older sisters.
Cuyahoga Community College will celebrate the academic achievements of approximately 2,500 graduates on May 14 during a virtual ceremony. Check our News and Events page in the days leading up to the online event as we highlight members of the Class of 2020.
May 03, 2020
John Horton, 216-987-4281 firstname.lastname@example.org