June 26, 2012

16 year old Dutch boy graduates from US college via distance learning

Submitted by the Stelma family

On the 8th of June, Bauke Stelma from the Netherlands graduated from Thomas Edison State College, New Jersey, USA, at the age of 16 and received the Arnold Fletcher Award for his accomplishments. He received his diploma in the mail today. The advanced American system of distance education allowed him to reach this goal.

16-year-old Bauke Stelma proudly displaying his college diploma

“I have worked very hard for this accomplishment,” says Bauke. “Actually, graduating before my seventeenth birthday was not what I set out to do. However, the further I proceeded in my college career, the clearer it became that it might be a feasible goal, and I decided to rise to the challenge.” He thanks Thomas Edison State College (TESC), his alma mater, for assisting him in every way they could to make it possible.

“Since this way of doing college was entirely new to us, we made a small mistake in our planning, and I had to pass two last tests after I submitted my graduation request, but before they’d done my graduation audit. People at TESC were very helpful in assisting me to get my results filed. In the end, they forgot to take into account the four TECEP examinations that I had done at their own institute and postponed my graduation till September. I wrote and asked them to correct this. Within a couple of hours my graduation request was granted.”

Bauke made it by the skin of his teeth. On June 8, 2012, the Board of Trustees of Thomas Edison State College approved the awarding of his degree; on June 9 Bauke turned 17. Bauke was awarded the Arnold Fletcher Award for his achievement. TESC explains: “The Arnold Fletcher Award recognizes Thomas Edison State College bachelor’s degree graduates for achieving excellence in nontraditional learning.”

Homeschooling and credit-by-examination allowed Bauke to take this path to his Bachelor’s degree. “I choose the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree program in General Management for multiple reasons. First, I am not a specialist. I have wide interests and do not want to specialize this early in my life. My studies at TESC prepared me for the many functions I hope to take on later in life—in family, church and society. Secondly, General Management prepared me both for being an employee and for entrepreneurship. Thirdly, it suited my circumstances best and enabled me to pursue this degree via distance learning.” Bauke travelled to different test centers in Great Britain, Germany, and Belgium take his examinations. In March 2012, he enrolled at Thomas Edison State College, forwarded his transcripts and filed his graduation request.

What does Bauke want to do next? “I am hoping to work as a mission aviation pilot and have started working towards that goal by training for my PPL (Private Pilot License). However, people normally aren’t mission pilots for their whole working life. A former mission pilot urged me not only to prepare for the mission field, but to think twenty years ahead as well. Therefore I want to pursue another degree to prepare myself for life after mission aviation. I plan to study for a theology degree because this will serve me both in the field and later in life.”

When asked if he plans to pursue these goals as quickly as he pursued his bachelor’s, Bauke explains, “Well, I certainly would enjoy that, but it mainly depends on the funds available. Preparing for mission aviation is costly, so I will need to work and raise funds to cover the expenses. Furthermore, this type of work will definitely require a high level of maturity and life and work experience. It will take me a couple of years to reach these goals, and that’s a good thing. The next thing I’ll do is write an eBook about my college experience.”

Bauke is the son of Kor and Erna Stelma, homeschool pioneers in the Netherlands and founders of “Jozualist,”the Christian Dutch Homeschoolers.

 More Information

Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s Netherlands page.