Book Review – College@13

College@13 – Young Gifted and Purposeful

College@13by Razel Solow, Ph.D. and Celeste Rhodes, Ph.D.
(2012) Great Potential Press
paperback,  304 pp, ISBN 978-0-910707-10-7

Publisher’s Abstract: What is it like to be 13 and going to college? Is such radical acceleration helpful or harmful? This book describes 14 highly gifted young women, now in their 30s, who left home to attend college at age 13 to 16, skipping all or most of high school. The authors describe what the women were like as young college students; the leadership, idealism, and sense of purposefulness they developed, and their lives 10 to 13 years later. This inspirational book will help educators and parents  understand that gifted kids need academic challenge, that there are colleges with specific programs for such students, that it doesn’t harm them to leave home early, and that keeping them interested in learning is vitally important.

Review by Elaine Wiener
We are so spoiled in education. We have learned to like books that are clever and whose formats are ingenious—books that have humorous drawings or say things in concise, precise manners. It’s not that those books don’t have important messages; it’s just that important messages or not, the format and the cleverness steal the show.

Dr. Marge Hoctor of USC listened to my confession that I had become spoiled because College@13 is an important book, but it was tedious to me, being devoid of any tricks at all. Dr. Hoctor named that “academically structured,” and now I have a proper name for what College@13 is.

College@13 is one of the most important books ever written about severely gifted students because they are a very small group, and this book is only about girls. So highly gifted AND girls brings us to a study that is rare. And yes! it is very structured—academically structured!

“Mary Baldwin College (MBC) is a small liberal arts women’s college in Staunton, Virginia…It was the first—and remains the only—college that offers a full-time residential early college entrance program for gifted girls in the United States.” The program is called PEG—Program for the Exceptionally Gifted.

The Purpose of College@13 “tells the story of 14 exceptionally gifted young women who started college early, graduated successfully, and gave back to society by sharing their talents and abilities through their work and volunteerism.

Chapter One talks about misconceptions about gifted students and acceleration.

From personal experiences and observations, “there is a risk that exceptional students who are stuck in unchallenging classrooms every year may become confused about their identity and their place in the world…To protect themselves from peer rejection, highly gifted children can become masters of camouflage …concealing and shielding their developing identity behind a more acceptable façade.”

And then, this precise book lists misconceptions about gifted students:

Misconception 1: Exceptionally gifted young adults should be superstars. They are gifted only if they produce extraordinary work at a young age.

Misconception 2: Most gifted children who radically accelerate through school will become emotionally unstable and will miss the opportunity for normal adolescent development and fun.

Misconception 3: Gifted children who enter college at a young age likely will be unsuccessful in their adult work and relationships.

Misconception 4: Exceptionally gifted girls face no barriers in their schooling or careers.

Chapter two speaks in detail about each of the 14 girls, their lives, their wishes, their dreams.

The remainder of the book shares details of the lives of these special 13 students until we feel like they are our own.

Chapter 3: The Importance of Parental Support

Chapter 4: The Influence of Family Values

Chapter 5: School Issues and the Struggle of Being Different

Chapter 6: Intellectual Development and Social-Emotional Needs

Chapter 7: Caring Community, Social Growth, and Moral Development

Chapter 8: Benefits of Early College Entrance

Chapter 9: Community and Making a Difference

Chapter 10-14 are about individuals.

ElaineElaine S. Wiener is Associate Editor for Book Reviews for the Gifted Education Communicator. She is retired from the Garden Grove Unified School District GATE program and can be reached at


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