The early entrance program at Shimer College allows students to enroll in college after their sophomore or junior year of high school, without graduating. It has been in operation since 1950, making it the longest-running such program in the United States. From 1951 to 1956, it was supported by a Ford Foundation grant, and early entrants made up a large majority of the student body. With the end of the grant, early entrant numbers fell, eventually reaching a steady state of approximately 20% of the student body.
Other early early entrance programs
The University of Chicago under Robert Maynard Hutchins began accepting early entrants in 1937, but terminated this practice shortly after Hutchins departed in 1950. While not a formal program, early entrants were accepted until at least the early 60s. A few large universities briefly operated early entrance programs for highly gifted high school students during World War II, but these did not continue.
The same Ford Foundation grant that supported Shimer beginning in 1951 was also received by 11 other schools. At least two of these schools, Goucher and Utah, continue to operate such programs on a small and selective scale, but these are still one year younger than the Shimer College program.
Requirements and application
- Generally, to be considered for early entrance, applicants must be in the top quartile by at least one of the following measures: SAT, ACT, GPA, class rank
- Early entrance program application with requirements
Graduates and former students of Shimer College who enrolled through early entrance include:
- Peter Cooley, 1962, poet
- Steve Heller, 1971, programmer and author
- Warner W. Johnston, 1973 Electrical Engineer
- Robert Keohane, 1961, international relations theorist
- Kenneth Knabb, 1965, writer and translator
- Barbara (Moon) Showalter, 1978, physician
- Bruce Showalter, 1978, computer programmer
- Laurie Spiegel, 1967, electronic composer
- Sydney Spiesel, 1961, pediatrician and clinical professor
- Elizabeth Vandiver, 1976, professor of classics
- Catherine Yronwode, 1965, writer and editor
- Neal W. Johnston, 1956-57, lawyer
- in Shimer College, Diocesan News Service, 1966-09-07:
- Perhaps the most unusual thing about Shimer College is that one-fifth of its nearly 500 students did not graduate from high school. Through its "early entrance" program Shimer admits bright 14, 15 and 16-year-olds who are generally in the upper 15 per cent of their high school class and upper tenth on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
- Peter Cooley (1990). "The Failure of a Shimer Education". In My Beginning Is My End: Commencement Speeches at Shimer College. p. 46.
- "Alumni Profiles: Robert Keohane". Shimer.edu. http://www.shimer.edu/alumninetwork/RobertKeohane.cfm. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- Ken Knabb. "Part 1 (1945-1969)". Confessions of a Mild-Mannered Enemy of the State. http://www.cddc.vt.edu/bps/PS/autobio1.htm#Shimer. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
- "Alumni Profiles: Laurie Spiegel". Shimer.edu. http://www.shimer.edu/alumninetwork/LaurieSpiegel.cfm. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- Catherine Yronwode. "Catherine Yronwode". LuckyMojo.com. http://www.luckymojo.com/cat.html. Retrieved 2010-11-15.