Ceci and college
“T.F.,” said Lily Chao coming off the videophone, “Jessica just said that Ceci has already finished all her high school requirements for graduation. Including all the Advanced Placement courses offered in math, science, and English, as well as language. And she’s only thirteen!”
“Yes, her Mandarin accent is very good. In fact, better than mine which is tainted by Cantonese,” said T.F. with a chuckle. “It’s a good thing she first picked it up by talking to you as a “Beifangren” instead of me.”
“But Jessica thinks that she is too young to go off to stay at a college,” said Lily.
“Cecilia spoke with Jessica and agrees. Not that Ceci is unprepared to do the academic work. But that she would be at a great disadvantage socially.”
“Ceci is a well-rounded girl,” said Lily. “She is enthusiastic and good at her team sports—robo-soccer and swimming.”
“And sailing,” added T.F. “But I think what you just said captures her dilemma. You said ‘well-rounded girl’ and she is a girl still, physically, socially, and even emotionally.”
“It would be a waste of time for her to twiddle her thumbs just to grow a few years older. So Jessica is planning on enrolling her in on-line programs so that she doesn’t have to actually be on campus. She says that even the science courses now have such good three dimensional laboratory simulations that there’s no disadvantage to not being physically present. And she will continue with her current sports programs so she’ll still interact socially with her age peers.”
“That sounds like a very reasonable plan and yes, college is a lot different now from the time you and I were there.”
“Jessica said that the virtual classrooms apparently give the same chance to interact with the instructors and other students as if you were all there in person.”
“And I understand, sometimes even the instructors are not physically present but represented by holograms,” said T.F.
“Jessica also said Ceci has been already received early acceptance into the programs for Stanford, and Harvard and wait-listed for MIT,” said Lily with pride.
“You know,” said T.F., “Maybe some day all the students will be represented by avatars in virtual class rooms with virtual ivy on the walls, and there will be no physical university.”
“That’s going too far for me,” said Lily.
After some deliberation, Ceci and Jessica decided on Stanford. If at some point, she needed to be physically present for whatever reason, the campus was just a short distance up the Coast from San Diego.
“Even though Harvard has Woods Hole, Stanford has an affiliation with the Sears Institute,” said Ceci. “That’s another point in its favor.”
“Ceci,” said Carlos. “Yes Stanford is affiliated with the Sears Institute. But it’s primarily at the graduate level.”
“I looked into that,” said Ceci, “And there have been exceptions granted to undergraduates in the past.”
“Let’s wait until you are settled at college. If you’re still certain about your interests, you will need to apply for an exception, and then I can sponsor you to develop a program and to do hands-on research with us for credit.”
“And will I be able to go to sea too?”
She’s inherited the Chao’s love of the sea, thought Jessie, worried.
“I’m afraid not, Ceci. Not until you’re older,” said Carlos.
Good, thought Jessie.
“Ceci, I must warn you that because of your age, the regular students and fellows will probably have some doubts about whether you belong at the Institute, but I have no doubt that you’ll hold your own with them and win them over,” said Carlos. “You already know much more than just a very few specialists about giant and gigantic squids even though you haven’t done any hands-on work.”
“If I can’t go to sea, how will I be able to do the experiments on squid intelligence and communication that I’d like to do?” asked Ceci.
Those damn squids again, thought Jessica. She’s so really focused on them.
“At the Institute, all experiments have to be reviewed and approved by a research board. So once you have formulated your line of investigation, you will have to present it to the board and they will decide its merits.”
“Do you think they’ll hold my age against me?” asked Ceci.
“Slow down, Ceci,” answered Carlos. “Again, get settled in college first and your courses lined up. Then you’ll have to ask your college program if they will agree to this, and then I will have to ask the Institute if they will allow the exception.”
Ceci’s advisor at Stanford told her that the college would evaluate her request to also do research at the Sears Institute after she completed her first year.