Accelerating for Better Careers
A recent op-ed in the Coloradoan pointed out an interesting little nugget from Louis Terman's longitudinal research following children with high IQs. Apparently, children who graduated from high school at age 15 had "superior careers" to those who graduated at 17. The children had similar IQs. Starting your career earlier, it turns out, increases the chances you'll do great things with it (you can read the piece, which just covers acceleration in general, here).
I find this fascinating given all the articles of late about "Adultolescents," or "Twixters" (to use Time's phrase) or "Rejuveniles" to use the title of a new book by Christopher Noxon coming out in June. It's taking kids in general a lot longer to grow up these days. Gifted young people are taking even longer, given that many of them pursue advanced degrees after college. I suspect this extended adolescence is the reason so few grown-up gifted kids in the SMPY co-hort had had children by age 35. I read one study on English PhDs from the Modern Language Association that found 95% of students took more than 5 years to obtain their PhDs. In the best case scenario, these young people are 27 by the time they finish school and start working, and in normal scenarios, they're a lot older ...
...unless they're accelerated. A kid who graduated from high school at 15 could be done with college at 19 and pursuing advanced studies in the field of his choosing while most people are still choosing majors (and figuring out that "Beast" is a nickname for Milwaukee's Best). Sure there's a lot of fun stuff you experience by being the normal college age during college, but there's a lot of time-wasting stuff too. Gifted kids are often deeply interested in the fields in which their talents lie. Forcing them to spend 18 years pursuing generalist knowledge they could compact into far fewer years keeps them from devoting time to their passions.
As people have pointed out in other threads on this blog, if you devote more time to your passion, you often become very good at it. So no wonder accelerated kids do better in their careers. I don't know if it's an argument that would persuade a reluctant school, but it's worth a shot.