Teen graduates from college before graduating from high school

·3 min read

Ryland Dickman may only be 17 years old, but he’s already accomplished what some said was impossible.

Ryland, from Charlottesville, Virginia, graduated from college with his bachelor’s degree about two weeks before earning his high school diploma earlier this year.

"It feels really amazing. It's like everything I worked for in the past two or three years, it has finally happened and I reached a goal that I wanted to reach, so that feels really great," Ryland told Fox News.

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In May, Ryland graduated from Liberty University with a bachelor's in business administration, which he earned through the school’s online degree program, according to an announcement from the university. Ryland is the university’s youngest graduate to earn a bachelor’s degree at Liberty, the announcement reads.

About two weeks after he earned his bachelor’s, Ryland graduated high school from The Covenant School in Charlottesville.

It wasn’t easy for Ryland to reach both graduations.

"There were so many points in the journey where I thought I wouldn't be able to make it happen," Ryland said. "Because there were a lot of bureaucratic things that held me back at first."

He added that some admissions officers even told him, "No, you can't do that. It's impossible to graduate from college without a high school diploma."

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However, he had just what he needed to get into Liberty – his associate’s degree from Northern Virginia Community College. It allowed him to transfer to Liberty without needing a high school diploma.

He earned that degree during his sophomore year of high school, in the fall semester of 2019, even though it was "kind of a hassle because they usually don’t let 10th graders in" for dual enrollment, Ryland said.

So in January of 2020, Ryland started taking online classes at Liberty, while continuing his high school education.

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Ryland's mom, Latricia Dickman, told Fox that though she was surprised her son was able to get into college before he graduated high school, she wasn’t surprised by his achievements.

"He is very determined and goal-driven," Dickman said. "I think he was in fifth grade when he decided he wanted to learn to speak German. So it started from there."

Dickman told Fox that Ryland taught himself German without having ever taken a class. According to Liberty’s announcement of his graduation, Ryland has also learned at least seven other languages and is fluent in both German and Italian.

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In addition to academics, Ryland participated in his school’s musicals and was the president of his high school’s Judicial Council.

"I felt really involved this year, even though I was balancing college and high school," Ryland said.

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Though it was "really difficult" to balance everything, Ryland said that the coronavirus-related lockdowns helped him put his head down and complete both college and high school online.

"I obviously had more time to dedicate to it," Ryland said. "And as a result, I was taking -- so the spring of 2020 and the summer of 2020, I was taking more than full-time at Liberty."

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Ryland is now applying to law schools in Europe. He’s hoping Italy or Germany, where he plans to study to become an international business lawyer.

His mom, meanwhile, is proud of her son and his accomplishments.

"I just feel strongly that God blessed him with this affinity to learn languages and that he's meant to do something other than be here living in Charlottesville, Virginia," Latricia said. "…there are big plans out there, big things for him to do in the world."

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