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With Credits Earned While in High School, First-Year University Student Graduates in One Year


Posted 08/14/2015
Posted by David Isgur


Nicholas Wollmann (center) is shown taking part in the University of Hartford's Undergraduate Commencement ceremony in May 2015, less than one year after graduating from the University High School of Science and Engineering.

Nicholas Wollmann (center) is shown taking part in the University of Hartford's Undergraduate Commencement ceremony in May 2015, less than one year after graduating from the University High School of Science and Engineering.

Nicholas Wollmann (center), with University of Hartford President Walter Harrison (left) and UHSSE Principal Matt Folan (right). Wollman was honored at the UHSSE 2014 graduation ceremony for earning the most college credits of any UHSSE senior.

Nicholas Wollmann (center), with University of Hartford President Walter Harrison (left) and UHSSE Principal Matt Folan (right). Wollman was honored at the UHSSE 2014 graduation ceremony for earning the most college credits of any UHSSE senior.

When Nicholas Wollmann ’15 came to campus in fall 2014, he introduced himself to his classmates as “a freshman-senior” — a description that prompted curiosity and a few raised eyebrows. The description, while unusual, was accurate. He was a first-year student in terms of housing and student life, but academically, he was a senior, having already earned more than 90 credits towards graduation.

Wollmann majored in computer science and minored in math in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences and graduated with a bachelor of science degree with summa cum laude honors in May 2015. He was actually quite familiar with the University prior to enrolling here full-time because he graduated from the University High School of Science and Engineering (UHSSE) magnet school on campus and had taken three or four classes per semester at the University since his sophomore year in high school.

UHSSE was founded in 2004 as a partnership between the University and Hartford Public Schools. Its curriculum is based on the “Early College” model, in which qualified students can take and earn credit for college courses while still in high school. Wollman earned about 70 credits from the courses he took at UHart, another 25 credits from courses at UConn and additional credits from advanced placement exams all before leaving high school. That left just a few required courses needed before he could graduate from college.

“I was surprised to be able to get it all done in one year, but I’m really glad with the way it worked out,” says the 19-year-old from Burlington, CT.

He now works fulltime on software development at Cigna just down the street from the University. The job is the result of a career development internship he had also while in high school and at the University. He plans to take at least a one-year break from academics before taking classes part-time towards a master’s degree.

How does a teenager stay motivated to do high school, college, and internship work all at the same time? “The key was how much I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the challenge that came with the courses I took,” he says.

Wollmann started teaching himself computer science when he was in the eighth grade and he was hungry to learn more. He says his teachers at University High School and UHart really encouraged and supported his passion. In his final semester at UHart, he did an independent study with professor of computer science Carolyn Pe Rosiene, and helped her design course materials and strategies for assignments in a course. With Wollmann’s guidance, students in an introductory programming class completed a program similar to Flappy Bird

“I really enjoyed helping Professor Rosiene with this project, especially given all the help she had given me” in high school and in college, Wollmann said of his faculty advisor.

He adds that none of what he has accomplished would have been possible without the support of his family. That support included picking him up after a day of high school classes and a night of University classes.

Wollman says he and his family “are definitely very thankful” that he earned his undergraduate degree so quickly and cost-effectively and that the money he is earning now can go towards his future.

Asked if he thought he might regret not spending more time living “the college life,” Wollmann says, “That might be something I think about 15 or 20 years from now, but I am really fine with where I am right now.” After all, in 20 years he will only be 39.

Nicholas Wollmann (center) is shown taking part in the University of Hartford's Undergraduate Commencement ceremony in May 2015, less than one year after graduating from the University High School of Science and Engineering.

Nicholas Wollmann (center) is shown taking part in the University of Hartford's Undergraduate Commencement ceremony in May 2015, less than one year after graduating from the University High School of Science and Engineering.

Nicholas Wollmann (center), with University of Hartford President Walter Harrison (left) and UHSSE Principal Matt Folan (right). Wollman was honored at the UHSSE 2014 graduation ceremony for earning the most college credits of any UHSSE senior.

Nicholas Wollmann (center), with University of Hartford President Walter Harrison (left) and UHSSE Principal Matt Folan (right). Wollman was honored at the UHSSE 2014 graduation ceremony for earning the most college credits of any UHSSE senior.