When you see a tall woman sporting Nikes and texting as she exits a classroom in a stream of students, you may not know that Sheridon Bolden, a sophomore general studies major from Troy, is 17 years old and about to graduate from Troy before she even graduates from high school.
“I get to tell people: ‘I already graduated college. Why am I still in high school? I should be done with high school,’ ” Bolden said, smiling. She expects to get her associate degree from Troy in the beginning of May and graduate from high school at the end of the same month.
After her college class at 9 a.m., Bolden heads down to Barnes & Noble for her favorite fix — a grande double chocolate chip mocha — before she leaves for her high school classes at the Troy-Pike Center for Technology, also known as Vo-Tech.
When she was 15 years old, Bolden started the dual enrollment program with Troy and left her high school.
“I don’t go back to my high school,” she said about Pike County High School in Brundidge. “I go to Vo-Tech (online), and I drive to my college classes.”
Bolden said she started taking online Vo-Tech classes after her freshman year in high school.
After Vo-Tech, Bolden picks up her shift as a plate-setter at Hook’s BBQ, where she works from 4 to 8:30 p.m.
“Then I go home, study for tests and it’s the same thing next day,” she said. “And on Sundays I don’t go to work, ’cause I go to church on Sundays.”
Bolden is one of over 1.5 million American high schoolers enrolled in dual enrollment courses, and numbers are expected to grow, according to 2016 Department of Education data. Financial benefits of shedding two years’ worth of post-secondary expenditures attract more and more students to start their college careers early.
Bolden said her parents stress the benefits for her and her 15-year-old brother, who just started the dual enrollment program with Troy.
“They think it’s a good opportunity; they stress it more than I do,” she said. “(My brother’s) not really struggling as much as I did when I started college classes, but he has different college classes.
“He’s taking leadership and visual arts.”
Twelve-hour days, Bolden said, do make her tired “pretty much all the time.”
“I’m tired right now … but that’s because I went to the movies last night,” she said. Still, Bolden said she gets to sleep more now than she did her one year of high school.
“I had to wake up early in the morning for school — for high school — so it’s really not much different,” she said. “5-5:30 (a.m.) to get on the school bus.
“But I drive now every day.”
After she graduates, Bolden said, she plans to come back to Troy to get her Bachelor of Psychology and Master of Counseling before she is 22 years old.
“I’m thinking of being a marriage counselor,” she said. “I don’t know.
“I just think people need more of that.”
To master time-management and achieve her goals, Bolden said, she conquered the biggest adversary of college students — procrastination. She suggested other students do the same.