Too Young to Study Abroad

Kathleen Megan wrote an article in The Hartford Courant this month concerning a case of discrimination in the University of Connecticut. Colin Carlson, a 13 year old prodigy was denied to attend an African ecology course that included a summer field study in South Africa. Even after his mother offered the university to go with him and sign liability waivers, the university kept a firm “no” as an answer. Is 13 years too young to study abroad? 

Is 13 too young to study abroad? 

Before you form your opinion, maybe you should watch this video: Colin was interviewed by NBC News discussing whether he is too young to study abroad or not. I was highly impressed by Colin and his maturity in the video. He does not act or behave like most 13 year olds would, but rather makes many valid arguments why the trip to South Africa would have deepened his understand of his majors and been a valuable experience for him. 

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First of all, considering a 13 year old capable of pursuing a double-degree major is an individual that is highly intelligent and mature enough to deal with the duties and responsibilities that this implies. If this person fulfills these, why would he or she not be able to benefit from the rights and advantages of it?

Studying abroad is an important decision to make and before taking the step, the student should feel prepared and comfortable with the idea of being away from their family, friends and culture. Once he has thought about all of this, age should not be important. Age and maturity are sometimes not linked so age should not be considered as a factor when deciding whether a student is prepared to study abroad or not.
Safety is very important for students abroad no matter the age of the individual, so once again, it is not a question of how old someone is, but how responsible these people are.

Back to the article, Colin Carlson’s teachers and mentors all stated that he is a very good student, responsible and mature. The reason why the University decided not to accept his request is still unknown. We will follow this case closely, so as to discover what justice will determine as fair or ethical.

What is your take on this? Do you think a 13 year old should be allowed to study abroad? Please share your opinion in the comments. I’d love to hear from you and what you think about this case.