Most of us could never understand what it would be like to start college earlier than we did, but senior Annika Mote knows that feeling well.
After receiving a “clinically gifted” diagnosis early on in her life, Mote has been on an accelerated track through home school, public education and schools for the gifted. This May, she will be a graduate of UCCS at 17 years old.
Mote’s education timeline differs from the average UCCS student. She not only graduated high school at age 14, but also got her associate degree in the process.
“I did placement tests to see what classes I should be taking and tested into 9th grade, and we really just figured it out as we went from there,” Mote said. “I stayed technically enrolled in high school for two years after I finished all my credits because I got a grant from the state towards my associate’s, so I finished high school at 12 but graduated at 14.”
Entering college so young, there was potential for certain age barriers and differences to separate Mote from her peers. However, she did not allow that potential to stop her from pursuing a bachelor’s degree at UCCS.
“I transferred to UCCS during the pandemic, so my first time on campus was fall 2021. I actually made a lot of friends that semester. The age thing came up naturally, and a lot of questions came, but everyone gets over it eventually. It becomes kind of a joke, which I don’t mind at all,” she said.
Mote has spent more consecutive years in school than most of us would be able to handle at her age, yet her outlook on her academic career trends toward the positive. Entering college at the beginning of her teenage years had its perks, but also its downsides.
“I had a lot of maturing to do when I started college, like any 12 to 13 year old does, but I think I felt a bit more pressure to act older because I wanted to fit in,” she said. “Every 13 year old desperately wants to fit in and seem cool, and I was no different.”
Regarding her time here at UCCS, Mote said her experience has been largely positive. “Of course, life happens, but on campus everyone has only ever been kind to me. I have wonderful friends, professors who know me and really care about my success and I’ve enjoyed all of it.”
Mote’s accelerated track has left her with a lot of questions and uncertainty in post-graduate decisions. She understands this well and plans on taking her time with her future.
“I plan on going to grad school, but I’m taking a year off first. I was working on applications this past December and just had this overwhelming feeling that I was not old enough to do this,” Mote said.
Mote is going to take the time to instead explore her hobbies and interests and enjoy the things that she loves and cares about — outside of the hustle she has in school. “In my free time I mostly weightlift, it’s a good outlet and something I really enjoy,” she said.
“I’m excited to be done with school but also terrified because I don’t know what’s next. I know what to expect in school, but I’ve never done anything outside of that. I’m excited to figure it out,” Mote said.
Mote’s college experience is unusual for a number of reasons beyond her age, but her experiences at UCCS have been impactful. Following her graduation this May, Mote will be concluding the first half of her accelerated educational career.
Picture courtesy of Annika Mote.