Aidan Bartlett-Cahill graduated from Mashpee Middle-High School in 2019. Later this spring, he will graduate from the Isenberg School of Management at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He majors in finance and was able to earn his bachelor’s degree after only two years.
“It’s not crazy unusual to get done in three years or three and a half, but I don’t remember anybody getting through in two years,” said Daniel Leader, a science teacher at the high school. “That’s awesome he was able to do that.”
By taking 10 Advanced Placement, or AP, classes in high school, Aidan accumulated 49 credits before ever setting foot in a college classroom. To earn his bachelor’s degree, he needed 120 credits. Because he passed so many AP exams in college, he only needed 71 more credits to graduate from the university. During each of his four semesters in college, Aidan has taken five or six classes, which gave him enough credits to graduate in just two years.
“I was just taking AP classes because I thought I would learn more in them. When I started looking at college, I realized it put me on a track where I could skip two years, which was kind of crazy,” Aidan said.
AP classes are offered at high schools and are designed to replicate the difficulty of a class offered at a college or university. Students in these classes are challenged more than they would be in a college preparation or honors class, and generally there is more work that goes with it. At the end of the year, students take the AP test that corresponds to the class. The tests are done nationally on the same day for a specific class and are graded by College Board. Grading for these tests are on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being the highest. If a student scores high enough on the exam, a college will accept this as credit.
Aidan scored high enough on all 10 of the exams to receive credit.
However, earning college credit is not as simple as scoring high enough on an AP test. Depending on the college a student goes to, some universities will cap the amount of AP credits a student can bring in with them.
When Aidan was initially looking at schools, he began his search in Boston where there are plenty of good business schools. Babson, Bentley, Boston College and others were all on his radar. However, all of those institutions limited the number of credits he could bring with him. UMass did not. This is when the finance major went to work.
“I was just looking at it from a parental standpoint of, ‘This year is going to cost us this much,’” said Lauren Bartlett, Aidan’s mother. “They’re going to give you this much in scholarship, but he said, ‘Okay, but it’s still going to be for four years. If I go to Isenberg, they’re going to take all of my credits and it’s only going to be for two years.’ ”
While entering college as a junior certainly had massive financial perks for Aidan, there were numerous drawbacks.
For starters, Aidan enrolled at UMass in the fall of 2019. A little into his second semester, Aidan was forced to come home, due to COVID-19. He never went back to live on campus, as he finished his first year at home and all of his classes this year have been remote as well. In addition, he was not able to spend a semester studying abroad as he had hoped to do.
“Unfortunately for him, he’s not getting the experience, but ,as a parent, we are coming at a third of what his tuition would have been and he’s not too upset about being home,” Ms. Bartlett said.
Another challenge Aidan faced was entering college as an 18-year-old junior. Aidan said that getting an internship before junior year was something very important and hard to do. Since Aidan had not been a student at UMass, he found it was difficult to try to apply for an internship since he had no connections at the university yet to help him.
Despite the drawbacks, Aidan said the financial benefits to it outweighed them, even if he was not thinking about them when he first started taking AP classes.
“If I knew the financial aspect, I still would have done it, but I didn’t think about that in high school,” Aidan said.
A big reason Aidan did not initially consider this is because, technically, he began his college career as a 9th grader.
That year, Aidan took AP Human Geography. As a sophomore, he did not take any AP classes. As a junior, he took four: AP English Language and Composition, Environmental Science, Physics 1 and US History. As a senior, he upped it and took five: AP English Literature and Composition, European History, Physics 2, Spanish Language and Culture, and Statistics.
Currently, Aidan is on the job hunt hoping to break into the world of finance.
What is his plan down the road?
“I don’t even know. In five years? Low-key retired,” Aidan said.
Comments like these were commonplace for Aidan back when he was a student at the high school.
“Aidan is funny,” said Kelly Fena, a Spanish teacher at the high school. “He’s a stealthy funny kid. He’s just one of those people who’s making comments all the time on the side.”
Ms. Fena, who taught Aidan for three years, said he was always making those types of comments, so much so that they even had a running list on the board in the classroom.
In addition to the humor, Ms. Fena commended Aidan for his ability as a student.
“He’s really smart. He knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things. He likes to read and has an interest in a lot of different things,” she said.
Fortunately for Aidan, loving to learn should help him quite nicely in his career.
“Finance is a fairly heavy in information, and you track a lot of moving variables. Enjoying learning new information is very beneficial in that regard because it makes it quite enjoyable,” he said.