Daniel Mullen, 16, is one of the top students in his class — and he is dropping out of high school.
Well, sort of.
Mullen, a sophomore at Federal Way Public Academy, is actually leaving high school next year to enter college as a freshman at the University of Washington as part of the Academy for Young Scholars program. He will also be admitted into the UW’s honors program and will receive a scholarship for his first year’s tuition. He is one of 30 high school sophomores throughout the state to be selected for the program.
Once Mullen earns a bachelor’s degree or higher, it won’t matter that he didn’t earn a high school diploma, he said. Until then, if any potential employers ask, Mullen will explain the program and why he doesn’t have a diploma. He doesn’t anticipate having any problems.
Mullen learned about the early college entrance program in January while exploring options for where to attend school his junior and senior year of high school. The Federal Way Public Academy only teaches students through tenth grade.
“I unfortunately had to find options to go elsewhere…I love this school,” Mullen said.
To apply, he had to submit high school transcripts, two essays, letters of recommendation and his ACT scores. Mullen scored 34 on his ACT with writing test.
“Apparently, that’s insanely high,” he said.
The highest possible score on the ACT test is 36.
“I really don’t like to brag but I guess I am smart and I did work really hard,” Mullen said, noting that he completed three to four hours of homework on most nights.
For his first year at the UW, Mullen plans to continue living with his parents and to ride the Metro bus to school.
His second year, Mullen will be 18 and he hopes to move to the dorms on campus. He doesn’t plan on attending college parties.
“I’m honestly very much a nerd, so I’m not really much interested in college parties,” he said.
Mullen smiled though, when asked if he was interested in the college girls. He said he anticipates meeting girls his own age in the Academy for Young Scholars program.
He is considering studying biochemistry and a possible career in the medical field.
“It’s a degree that there’s a lot of opportunities out there for. Especially if you want to go to medical school,” Mullen said.
With the two years he gains by going to college early, Mullen said he will consider earning a dual major and spending a year traveling the world.
Kurt Lauer, Mullen’s principal at the Public Academy, said he has no doubts Mullen will do well at the university.
“He’ll have A’s. I’m not to worried about it,” Lauer said. “Where he’s at intellectually and emotionally right now, I think he’s ready to go to college now.”
At Public Academy, Lauer said the goal is to have no ceilings for students.
“Our whole goal is helping the kids here get something that is their dreams,” he said.
Contact Margo Hoffman: firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 925-5565.