Minnesota teen earns college degree before high school diploma

MANKATO, Minn. — A Minnesota teen has already earned a college degree -- and she did it before receiving her high school diploma.

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Abby Tarrant earned an associate degree from South Central College in North Mankato, The Free Press of Mankato reported. Hours later, she was on the mound, pitching for the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton High School Bulldogs. On Friday, she will graduate from high school.

Tarrant has attended college full time for the past two years and has not attended a high school class since her sophomore year, the newspaper reported. However, she has participated in sports and other extracurricular activities to remain connected to her high school classmates.

“I still got to do a lot of the traditional high school experiences,” Tarrant told The Free Press.

Tarrant has been taking college-level courses under a program called Postsecondary Enrollment Options. The state program allows high school students to take college courses at no cost, according to the PSEO website.

Students accepted into the program must take classes that fulfill their high school’s graduation requirements, The Free Press reported.

Tarrant began by taking one college class each semester at South Central College, which is the maximum allowed for sophomores.

She decided to attend college full time during her junior year in high school. The credits she earned at South Central College are transferable to any college, according to The Free Press.

Tarrant’s next goal is to attend the University of Northern Colorado. She hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree there, and ultimately a doctorate in audiology, the newspaper reported.

Tarrant said her experience in the PSEO program has given her a boost in confidence.

“It helped me expand my worldview in so many ways,” Tarrant told The Free Press.

Besides softball, Tarrant has performed in several of her high school’s theater productions.

“Abby has always shown excellence and determination in everything that comes her way,” band and theater director Adam Hille told The Free Press. “Her musical talents and the ability to analyze not only what she’s singing, but what the music is doing have been impeccable.”

Before she receives her high school diploma, Tarrant will sing the national anthem to kick off her school’s graduation ceremony.

“She lives with a sense of inner elegance and is graceful even amidst a challenge,” Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton softball coach Megan Christopher told The Free Press. “Her energy has a mystery, softness, strength and cleverness to it. Her character is authentic, and I can tell that others feel compelled to trust, emulate and follow her.”