MARQUETTE - Jordan Smith, 17, arrives at Marquette Senior High School at 7:30 a.m. like the rest of the student body to begin classes.
After his first class, however, he leaves again and heads to Northern Michigan University for higher level math and physics classes. After he finishes with those, he heads back to MSHS for two more high school classes before heading home or back to Northern for a lab, depending on the day.
Smith, a senior, is in the middle of his second year taking dual enrollment classes through Northern, allowing him to get a jump on classes he'll eventually have to take as a full-time college student, hoping to focus on theoretical high energy particle physics.
On his way toward a planned career in the field of theoretical high energy particle physics, Marquette Senior High School senior Jordan Smith, 17, has been getting ahead in math and science classes by taking dual enrollment courses at Northern Michigan University. Here Smith works on homework at the Peter White Public Library. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
"It's dealing with sub-atomic particles like quarks and the laws that govern them," Smith said. "Things like quantum mechanics."
Besides taking Advanced Placement Government and English and band this semester, Smith is also taking two courses at Northern, as he has since his second year doing dual enrollment.
Starting his day out at the high school, he walks to NMU's campus for his college classes. Since the high school and college schedules don't line up perfectly, he uses time in between classes or on days he doesn't have his Northern classes to study.
"It's definitely not free time. I don't think I'd be able to keep up if I didn't have those times," Smith said.
Besides his high school AP homework, Smith said he usually has 10-20 hours of homework a week for his college classes, besides being a member of the high school marching band playing tuba, the High School Bowl team, Science Olympiad, the Boy Scouts and the Physics Club at Northern.
Despite the extra work, Smith said he enjoys the college classes and appreciates the chance to take them while still in high school.
"I really really enjoy the classes at Northern. And I think a big chunk of that is I really like those subjects," he said.
Although he's used to juggling high school and college now, Smith said at first it took some adjusting to be able to handle the college classes.
"It was really a shock to me how much work I was responsible for. That was really an adjustment for me," he said. "It's doable."
While beginning classes at Northern was intimidating at first, many of Smith's classes contain a small number of students who have taken classes together before. Help from both high school teachers and university professors has also made it easier to mesh his two school schedules together.
Looking forward to next year, Smith said he is working to decide between continuing his attendance at Northern or Michigan State University, but knows that the experience at NMU will help him move forward at either university.
For other high school students considering dual enrollment, Smith suggested making sure the classes are a subject they enjoy learning about.
"If you want to do it you have to be motivated," he said. "It's a lot of fun if you're interested in it.
"I love being able to learn all this stuff."
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.