MANSFIELD, Ga. - At an age when most kids aren't even thinking about high school, a Jasper County 13-year-old is getting ready for college.
Donnie Simpson gets a little choked up when he talks about his son, Chance. Not because Chance is labeled by experts as a genius, but because the 13-year-old, who just graduated from high school last week, is so humble about it.
"I'm so proud of him. He is such a good kid. It’s hard to imagine, but he just doesn’t think it’s a big deal,” Simpson told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner as his eyes filled with tears.
The Simpsons said it was always clear Chance was pretty special and a lot smarter than the average child his age. By the time he was seven, they had to pull him out of traditional schools in Jasper County.
The alternative was Georgia Connections Academy – an online academic institution where students follow Georgia's curriculum but study and progress at their own pace. Chance hit a record pace –finishing the rest of elementary school, middle, and high school in six years flat.
“I did two grades one year at a time. Sixth and seventh grade and tenth and eleventh grade – one semester at a time. And the rest of the time I just worked really hard to stay ahead until I got here,” the 13-year-old told Bruner.
Chance graduated in the top 10 percent of a class of more than 400 students. But even with his 3.93 GPA, Chance had a hard time finding a Georgia college that would welcome him this fall.
“He would qualify for enrollment all the way until they asked for his age and they would say, ’No.’ They didn’t want the liability of having a 13-year-old on campus and a freshman couldn’t live off-campus and we weren’t having that anyway. We were prepared to commute, but they said no,” Simpson said.
Fortunately, Point University decided to give the young genius a chance to launch his college career and reach his goal of becoming a neurologist.
“It's gonna be online and I can take the classes at my pace so that I can end up with a bachelor's degree in science and public health. I want to be a neurologist so that I can help take care of my family and my community,” said Chance from his home on a rural Mansfield, Georgia road.
Despite Chance’s stellar academic record, the Simpsons told Bruner they will have to take out loans to pay for college because he is too young to qualify for scholarships.
“Most of the ones he tried said you had to be at least 16, so we’ll just do what we have to do to make it work until he is old enough. He’s such a special kid, but doesn’t make a big deal out of it. He thought there were hundreds of kids out there like him, but he didn’t even know he really is one in a million,” said Chance’s mother, Martha.