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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Smart siblings, high expectations


I’m 15 years old, and I’m a sophomore. That’s pretty normal, for most people. But, in my family, I’m falling behind. If I was like my brothers, I’d be halfway to a degree from West Valley College.
I go to Saratoga High, not West Valley. But I do have two older brothers, Matt and Andy, who began attending WVC at 13 and 15 respectively.

I get some pretty strong reactions when people hear about this, ranging from the incredulous responses of “I don’t believe you!” to the sarcastic, one-upping ones of “Well, my sister is 2 and just finished reading ‘War and Peace,’ so … ha!”
My siblings have also gotten a variety of unexpected reactions to their unusual educations. One time, my brother Matt says, he was in class at WVC and someone was bragging about how they had started classes when they were only 16. They didn’t believe him when he said he was 14 and had begun classes a year before.
These reactions have become commonplace for my family. Since our family moved around a lot, we met different opposition and reactions to their acceleration through the education system.
Finally, when we moved to California about seven and a half years ago, my mom decided to home-school the three of us. It was better, she said, than dealing with the public schools in the area, which she found inflexible and unsuitable.
When I was about to begin fifth grade, and my brothers were doing upper high school level work, my mom decided it was time for a change. My brothers were ready for the next step in their educations, and their maturity level, according to her, was high enough that they could get along just fine in college courses. Before long, they were taking classes full time there.
It helped, of course that they are both very tall—Matt is 6’6” while Andy is 6’8”.
I, however, continued my relatively normal education, with one more year of homeschooling, then began to attend Redwood in sixth grade.
I must constantly work to prove that I’m as smart as my brothers, even if I didn’t take the ACT in fifth grade and score in the 66th percentile of graduating seniors across the country, like my brother Matt.
When I got home from taking the PSAT a month ago, I told my parents how easy it was—and my dad asked me (only partly joking), “So why didn’t you ask for the harder one?”
My mom got upset when I was placed in the “normal” math class in sixth grade, instead of the one for seventh-graders.
Now that I’m in high school, I sign up for all the honors classes I can, so that maybe I can measure up to the precedent that has been set before me. My plans for junior and senior year each include about three AP courses and an honors or two for good measure.
But, no matter how hard I work, I will never be able to compete with the three degrees Matt will have by the end of the semester at age 18, or Andy’s professional photography business at age 21.
Though he has a liberal arts degree and will soon have degrees in both math and physics, Matt has yet to decide what he wants to do as a career. Andy has a photography degree, as well as one in liberal arts, and still continues to take business classes, to learn how to better run “Andy Sutterfield Photography,” his eponymous business. He plans to attend San Jose State in the spring.
I realize I sound cynical and bitter, but I’m really not. I think it’s cool that my brothers are so smart, even if they think it’s beneath them to help me with my math homework. I look up to my brothers every day as an inspiration, even when it may not be easy.
I have some idea of what I want to do. But the truth is, I’m only 15. I may not be in college yet, but that’s OK. I’m living my life at my own pace, and when I’m ready, I’ll continue on to bigger and better things. At this point in my life, high school is the perfect place for me.

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