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Underage students struggle for independence

For many students, college is the first time they can be truly independent and make their own choices, but for a handful of first-years, that’s not the case.

Kevin Sanders, the director of institutional research academic assessment at Drake University said this year’s first-year class consists of 18 students that are not yet 18 years old. While previous years show that this number is consistent amongst first-years, it seems there are many more 17-year-olds than there really are.

However, recently, many of the 17-year-olds have voiced their added stresses because they aren’t legal adults yet.

For example, first-year student Benjamin Moeller was born June 14, 1995 and won’t be 18 until next June.

“Being 17 in college kind of blows. I can’t just sign my name to something and go do it; I have to have parent signatures before I do anything,” Moeller said.

Moeller would typically still be in high school, but since he skipped fourth grade, he’s always been dubbed the “youngster” amongst his classmates.

Another disadvantage is if a student is participating in collegiate sports, the student needs to fill out a lot of paperwork, which if they aren’t 18 must be filled out by a parent as well. This creates problems because not all of the student-athletes’ parents are nearby, so having to fax papers to them and have them fax them back can be quite a pain.

Not being able to fill out paperwork on your own isn’t the only drawback.

“It’s socially kind of weird too. Even though I’m only a year younger than most other freshmen, I get a different ‘look’,” Moeller said.

Feeling out of place is quite popular amongst the 17-year-old first-years, because everything is much more complicated for them than it would be if they were already 18.

First-year Jonathan Liakos has a similar view on being 17 years old in college to Moeller.

“It’s hard to be 17 (years old) in college, because I always feel really young compared to everyone else in my grade. All of my friends are turning 19 soon, and some of them are even turning 20. It was fine in high school, because I had been younger than people for so long, but I get here and there are people already turning 21,” Liakos said.

Liakos, however, tries not to let it bring him down and has no problem participating in activities that his friends participate in, but sometimes, he has to go to extra lengths to participate.


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