This page will hopefully answer many of the more Frequently Asked Questions about CSULA's early college entrance program, as voiced by other parents, but it is not to take the place of personal contact. We hope you will feel free to contact the Parents of current EEP students (PEEPs) or the Early Entrance Program at CSULA (refer to bottom of page for emails and phone numbers).
Early Entrance Program Brochure: cover, overview, admissions, curriculum, costs, CSULA, contact, items of interest.
My child has tested well, but is having trouble in school. Does this mean he/she would not be right for an Early Entrance Program?
Sometimes children do act out in school because it is such an unsuitable match for them. The characteristics of a successful EEP student have more to do with desire to learn and responsibility than previous academic success. The Queensland (Australia) Association for Gifted and Talented Children summarized some of the characteristics of these children, and possible associated problems. Please click here for the list.
I do not live in the LA area. Are there other programs?
There are only three college programs for children ages 11-15: CSULA EEP, University of Washington (Seattle, Washington) Transitional School and EEP (TS/EEP), and the Mary Baldwin College (girls boarding school in Staunton, VA) Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG). These three programs have specific facilities, support and curriculum geared toward the needs of the young scholars, to aid in the transition from what is usually middle school to college. Then there are several colleges that have programs for older children, ages 15-17, who are skipping one or two years (reference the list at http://www.earlyentrance.org/index.shtml). There are middle school and high school programs located on college campuses, and many community colleges will accommodate individuals. It is suggested that you work with your present school and your local community college to see if an individually-tailored program can be worked out for your child.
Why do you have to test first? My child does not test well, is there another alternative?
The testing is not just for admission into the Early Entrance Program but also for admission into the University. Your child may take the test multiple times, so this should lessen the pressure on the first attempt. Any SAT or ACT scores taken at any time at any locale may be submitted for qualification; additionally, there are two test dates annually (usually December and April) just for EEP applicants on the CSULA campus (refer to the EEP website for dates, times and registration).
What does the application process consist of?
First the applicant must take the ACT (offered twice a year at CSULA) or the SAT. If the test scores qualify for consideration to EEP, an interview with the director should be scheduled for the parents and the child, at which time application packets will be available. After completing the application documents, along with payment of provisional summer fees, the student will be enrolled in the EEP provisional summer -- two college-level classes in a special 7-week session. Then if the student maintains at least a 3.0 average in the two classes and receives recommendations by professors, classmates and EEP administration, a formal acceptance is extended. Since this is rather late for planning purposes, a preliminary assessment is made in late July after midterms. The whole process is designed to dovetail with public school calendars. While it is recognized that this is a very long, several month process, and a very different process than most applications, it has been found that only through the class experience can the student decide whether this is a path he/she wants. Click here for an in-depth article written for the CAG magazine by Director Richard Maddox about the EEP program and the application process.
How do the older college students react to the EEP children? And the professors?
Generally speaking, the older college students and the professors react positively to EEP students. The primary goal of college students is to learn, and the primary goal of the professors is to teach. Since there is no ranking of all the students, such as in most high schools, the college environment is not as blatantly competitive as most high schools. Most EEP children are in the EEP because of their love of learning and because they are ready for a rigorous academic curriculum, so there is no problem with them fitting in. At CSULA, EEP students have historically taken part in many college activities such as the Honor Society, Class government, mock trial, societies, etc.
How safe is the CSULA campus for such young teenagers? Is it intimidating because it is so large? How large are the classes? How big is the CSULA EEP program?
The campus is very safe, especially for a city college campus. It is located 5 miles east of downtown, and since it is a "commuter school" it is not crowded and physically it is not large as you might expect. In fact, despite its 188 hilltop acres, the campus feels similar to many large high schools, and with most of the classes for the commuter students held in the evening, the campus is under-utilized during the day. While most of the 18,000 students are ages 18-25, there are many older students as well. With child care facilities and early development educational programs on campus, very young children are often present on campus. There are 500 more "high-school-aged" students on campus attending LACHSA (LA County High School for the Arts) and more in the charter Math and Science Magnet high school on campus. In the EEP program itself there are about 125 students, with about 25 new students accepted each year. The EEP students have a suite of rooms on campus to use before, between and after classes -- these include a lounge, computer facility, kitchen, dining area, conference room and study areas. Of course, the EEP students also use all the facilities on campus, including the library and food court. The classes are generally quite small at CSULA; the average class size is about 25, with even smaller classes in the higher-level courses, and the professors often take a personal interest in their students. It is important to remember that college is voluntary, not mandatory like high school -- everyone at CSULA is there by choice. For crime statistics, click here.
How much does college cost? Is there financial aid?
The per quarter fee is estimated at $2,500 to include: EEP Club fees, tuition, lab fees and books. The University has a used textbook service, and students may also elect to purchase books online or at discount bookstores. CSULA has a financial aid/scholarship office (SA 124) and information can be accessed by phone (323/343-6260) or at their website as well. EEP students qualify for the same scholarships, grants and loans as older students.
Parents should keep in mind that the annual CSU tuition cost of $6,335 (2013-2014) is about half the cost of the UCs, and 15% the cost of private colleges.
We had been thinking of a foreign exchange program in High School. Is there anything like this at the university level?
Yes, many universities encourage students to study abroad, and CSULA is no exception. At the college level it works a little differently, as the student usually resides in a dormitory rather than with a host family. The usual exchange period is a year, although there are many summer-only opportunities, and some foreign study can be extended for a second year. CSULA's IP (International Program) offers opportunities at 150 U.S. colleges as well as 17 foreign countries. EEPsters have spent a year abroad in England (Oxford University -- click here), Ireland (American College) and Korea, among others. Others have done masters degrees in foreign countries. Click here for more information. Older EEPsters can explore internship possibilities in foreign countries too.
What do the children do when they finish at EEP? Do all of them go for graduate degrees, and where?
EEP graduates do what normal college graduates do -- some go to work and some go to graduate school. However, the vast majority of EEP students do go for graduate degrees, generally about 1/3 to Medical Schools and 1/3 to Law Schools -- including such prestigious schools as Brown, Cal Tech, Cornell, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, NYU, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Thomas Jefferson Medical School, Princeton, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Stanford, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington St. Louis Medical College, Yale and all UC campuses including UCLA and Berkeley. While their young age is not an impediment at many graduate schools, some fields, such as business, would prefer work experience before admission. Specific information on the last eight years of EEP graduates is available here.
How is it possible to skip so many years of school seamlessly? Shouldn't they at least need some brush-up on math and some sciences?
Most of the EEP students are generally well-rounded, even if their passions lie in a particular field. If the prospective student is uni-dimensional, he/she may not be ready for a total college immersion, but may benefit instead from supplemental college courses in the field of interest. Most college introductory courses do not have requirements for entry; what usually sets the college courses apart are the speed, lack of repetition and depth of analysis (critical thinking) in their coursework. Generally speaking, it is important for all prospective EEP students to be strong English students, able to communicate excellently both orally and in writing. The provisional students take a special two-week seminar in math and english to ensure a smooth transition to the college curriculum. Click here for a list of math concepts that incoming EEP students are expected to be familiar with. Additionally, the EEP has a set of The Teaching Company math dvds that can be taken home, and all freshmen EEPsters are encouraged to avail themselves of the FREE EEPster tutoring service.
Don't children belong with their peers? Why can't gifted children fit in the normal public school system?
The simple answer is that EEPsters are with 125 of their peers. Regular public school, even those with GATE programs, is not the right fit for all children. Profoundly gifted children (IQs greater than 145, which is 0.5% of all children) learn differently from the average child, just as children with IQs less than 55 learn differently. The issue is whether we accommodate and nurture these differences, or whether we ignore them. Profoundly gifted children often have trouble in a normal school setting, and rapid acceleration can be the answer. Parents may be interested in "A Nation Deceived" (a study summarizing 50 years of research on acceleration and its effectiveness) and TIME's "Saving The Smart Kids" (2001 study found that 70% of kids who skipped ahead had no regrets). The purpose of programs like EEP is specifically to put these children in a setting with their peers. One parent of a 12-year old boy describes how well her child responded to rapid acceleration at CSULA's EEP program -- "When people ask me if I think I robbed my son of his childhood by putting him in college so young I respond, 'No, I've given it back to him'" -- click here for complete article.
My child is happy in Middle School/High School. How do I convince him/her that EEP will be a better choice?
EEP simply is not the right fit for all profoundly gifted children either. If your child is happy in the current academic environment, there is no need to explore a program such as EEP; EEP is designed for those children who do not thrive in a "normal" environment. The decision to pursue this highly unusual path must ultimately be left up to the child, and parents and students should keep in mind that a decision not to pursue the EEP path is a correct one for many profoundly gifted children. One main purpose of the provisional summer for EEP applicants is to provide the opportunity for both EEP and the prospective student to examine the fit, to evaluate whether EEP is the better path for this student.
Early Start - Gifted Education Communicator, Fall/Winter 2003, by Richard S. Maddox. An article for the CAG Journal describing the EEP Program at CSULA. "It is reasonable, if not absolutely necessary, to understand that such a program is not the right choice for all highly gifted students but it is viewed by the majority of EEP alumni as the only choice that would have allowed them to reach their potential as scholars and as people." Click here for complete article.
The Early Entrance Organization website, written and maintained by a 1998 graduate of TAMS (Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science), also has a list of FAQs which may be of interest.