UNC mathematical decision science major Tammy Lee thought she was the only upperclassman in her Math 383 course.
But three others joined her in signing up for the course. The twist: the students are upperclassmen in high school, and they are earning college credit.
“They said that they were juniors and seniors in high school, and everyone was shocked because they didn’t know that was allowed,” Lee said.
But Ashwin Bhargava, a senior at Chapel Hill High School, knew it was allowed and decided to take full advantage.
“I already took the highest level math offered at my school, and I thought it would be better to take the next level course,” Bhargava said.
Bhargava decided to take college level math after completing Advanced Placement Calculus. He is taking Math 383 this semester, and he took Math 233 during fall 2013.
According to the University's academic policies , high school students can take courses at UNC during both the regular academic year and summer school sessions, as long as they meet the specific requirements set forth by UNC's Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
High school students may only be admitted if they are on the honor roll and have completed their junior year of high school. Summer School Dean Jan Yopp said an average of 50 to 60 high school students enroll in courses at UNC during the summer. They are expected to perform at the same academic level as their college classmates.
“Because we have so few high school students, we make sure that high school students have the qualifications to be in a college-level class,” Yopp said.
Yopp said high school students attend classes at UNC in order to experience the rigor of college courses and most are looking for a way to strengthen their admissions application.
“These students are building a college transcript before they go to college,” she said.
Assistant Admissions Director Ashley Memory said in an email that high school students taking college courses do not necessarily have an advantage in admissions over those that do not.
“Our applicants spend their time outside their high school classrooms in a variety of ways ... but we don’t have a preference for one activity over the other,” Memory said. “Our applicants continue to impress us with how they choose to spend their time.”
Bhargava said he believes his college admission applications were strengthened by taking classes at UNC.
“It made me a little more unique,” he said.
Bhargava has been admitted to UNC for the fall and has also gained admission into schools such as N.C. State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He is currently undecided.
Yopp said the opportunity for high school students to take classes at UNC is not marketed at the local high schools. Some find out through other students, their guidance counselor or parents.
“A lot of this is parents – who want their student to have college level experience,” she said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.