Early College


I’m Eric Edlund, and I’m a junior at Lake Region this year. Next year, instead of being a senior here, I plan to go to attend early college program at Vermont Technical college. I’m a pretty motivated student and I’ve known what field I want to go into for quite a while now. I’ve been playing with computers since middle school and electronics kits before then. During middle school I bought my first Arduino and learned to use it through examples on the internet and experimentation. I already knew a fair bit about electricity from my dad before I started, preventing what would have been numerous small fires. I learned to make basic circuits, control lights and read switches with a computer and write in my first programming language.

I was always the kid who wanted to grow up to be a mad scientist who knew everything and I thought programming was just the coolest thing in the world. I’ve been in love with it ever since. I bought a Raspberry Pi 8th grade year with a bunch of other components: robotic tank tracks, a camera, Lithium polymer batteries and a few other bits, and tried to make a pet robot tank. Eventually, though far beyond my technological efforts at the time, it was able to move itself for brief periods. I lacked the knowledge to make it do so without starving the computer of power and crashing everything. When it wasn’t moving, it was able to recognize faces (a feat not as monumental as it sounds; most of the work was done by people on the internet).

In the process of operating a Raspberry Pi, I became familiar with Linux and have since falling in love with it too. My laptop at the time was abysmally slow, and after the first year of remote learning, I replaced Windows 10 with a Linux distribution. Installing a second operating system on a computer was by far the coolest thing I had ever done. The particular distribution of Linux I picked to install was near absolute garbage; the brightness keys wouldn’t work, the launcher menu was useless and nothing was nice to look at, but I still loved using it instead of Windows. Every time some part of it broke or I wanted to change something, using my computer became a game. Today, I use a different, much more put together Linux distribution on my laptop for school every day.

I’ve now explored some other areas of computer science. I’ve learned Java, been struggling for over 6 months now to create a game, poked around at making Android apps and set up an in-house Minecraft server at Lake Region. I’m very excited to get a formal education in computers because as I haven’t mentioned yet teaching myself all this stuff was a ridiculous amount of work. Nothing ever, ever, works the first time; lots of stuff I still haven’t been able to figure out. While my struggles have made me better at problem solving, planning and googling, things could be going much faster. Going to school every day, I don’t have time to continue learning. School has been a rather unwelcome all-occupying activity this year and last. It feels like I’m wasting valuable time, sacrificing my free time and a social life with ever higher level English and Math all for the still abstract wooing of colleges.

VAST is an early college program that Vermont Technical College does to occupy motivated highschool seniors and presumably profit somehow. The state of Vermont pays for my time there as my last year in highschool and I get to take college courses in my area of interest. I’d graduate after one year with a highschool diploma from VAST, and if I do everything correctly, Lake Region too. Assuming I’m accepted, I’ll be going to a school in Randolph away from my family next year and meet all new people.

Early college has been in the back of my mind since the end of sophomore year, which was made rather abysmal by covid. The last day of sophomore year, I found out that Sam Coe had been accepted to VAST and learned I wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to stick around in highschool. He’s pursuing manufacturing engineering and has since then has recommended the experience. He says everything is hands on and it’s about something he cares about.

This year in Spanish class, Mrs. D’Olimpio, in response to my endless complaints about my classes and the pointlessness of my highschool career, pushed me to look into alternative academic paths. She suggested trying to get into Simon’s rock and the information she provided was a key factor in my decision to leave.

It was Sam and Mrs. D’Olimpio, along with my depression and remarkably unsuccessful love life that finally inspired me to leave LR for bigger things. Now starts the application process. Take the accuplacer, write an essay explaining myself. All just a year earlier

Many of Lake Region’s requirements can be met next year in the form of classes at VAST, but I’m trying to get some of them out of the way now. Namely, I need to complete my last gym class. This wouldn’t typically be too much of a bother but now really isn’t a great time. In my rather uncertain pursuit of the green and gold scholarship to UVM, along with a few other juniors I know, I’m taking four AP classes at the moment. To complete the ever-admired four years of a foriegn language I’ve been told that colleges love, I’m also taking Spanish 4. I’m also taking independent musical composition to complete my fine art credit, and despite having an 80 minutes study hall every day, I wake up to do 2 hours of homework every morning.

This actually isn’t as bad as you would imagine, or perhaps I’ve just succumbed to it. I worked over the summer with my dad and headquarters (a hemp farm with an assortment of excavators and piles of dirt) was 40 minutes away. Every morning, we had to leave the house at 5:25 so I got up at 4:40. Persisting with this behavior, I have since joined the community of early birds at Lake Region. I still wake up then and do homework until seven. After school, the status quo is that most days I have no work to do. While this hasn’t proven to be true all the time, the amount is never ludicrous and I’m never caught trying to comprehend a horribly structured nature article at midnight like so many of my colleagues.

Anyway, some time this year, I’m going to have to drop my study hall for a gym class, but there’s really no point worrying about that.

On the bright side, because of the pandemic, the number of folio tasks required for graduation has been reduced to 12 each. With the ridiculous amount of classes I took last and this year, I will have by far exceeded 12 in each category this year, and won’t have to worry about remotely completing them at VAST.

There are still some things I was looking forward to doing next year at Lake Region. The mostly meaningless title of senior, taking Physics and Government Politics, graduating. I’m going to have to make new friends too. Talking to the people I know here about leaving next year has been among the more surreal experiences I’ve had. But after moving here from st. Albans for 4th grade, then entering middle school and then highschool, I have a suspicion that going to early college won’t be as difficult as I first thought.