Colin Carlson is not your average 13 year old. Unlike most kids his age who are fumbling their way through the basic principles of science and the environment, Colin is halfway through his sophomore year of college at the University of Connecticut, seeking a bachelor's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology and another in environmental studies. Even though it seems like Colin is blazing his way through his studies, he and his mom are up in arms over a recent decision by the university to reject Colin's bid to study abroad, putting a kink in his plans to graduate with double degrees in four years.

According to Colin's mom, Jessica Offir, Colin was 2 or 3 when he began reading on his own, and was up to Harry Potter by the time he was 4. Colin skipped two grades in public school and began taking psychology, history and other courses at UConn when he was 9. He graduated from Stanford University Online High School at age 11, and soon after enrolled full time at UConn.

But his four-year plan for college has been knocked off course by UConn's rejection of his request to take a class that includes summer field work in South Africa. The university would not let Colin enroll, even after his mother offered to release UConn from liability and accompany her son as a chaperone at her own expense, she and Colin said.

To be eligible to study abroad, students may not be on university probation or academic probation and must have earned a grade point average of at least a "C." Colin, an honor student with a near-perfect 3.9 GPA, easily meets these requirements. But, ultimately, the study-abroad office and the faculty member leading the trip decide who may go, and in this case they have decided against Colin.

This wouldn't be the teen's first international trip. Colin has gone sea kayaking off Nova Scotia and Ecuador, hiked in numerous national parks and has traveled across the U.S. by car with his mother. In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Colin said, "It's important to have a very wide world view," he said. "Biology is fundamentally about the diversity of life, with a focus across the planet."

Hopefully, this eco-whizkid will be able to get past this unpleasant kink in his plans quickly so that he can get back on track. His plans include a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology and a degree in environmental law for a career in conservation science. He intends to earn those two degrees by age 22.

I think we'll be hearing big things from Colin Carlson soon ... and I'm so glad that he'll be working towards a greener future for all of us!


Photo: TimDD

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