Curtis Lawrence, 16, is a junior at FAMU

Curtis Lawrence, 16, is halfway to his undergraduate degree. Photo courtesy: Lawrence

Coming to college can be a big step for anyone, whether in-state or out-of-state. College offers new-found freedom, new friends and a plethora of experiences one can explore.

In the United States, people normally enter college after graduating high school, putting them between the ages of 17 and 19.

According to, 2.8% of college students are under 18.

But there are some who have started college early. Which is the case for 16-year-old Curtis Lawrence III, a biology major at FAMU from New York City.

Lawrence started taking college classes in the 7th grade, and from there his academic experience continued to grow.

“Having started taking college classes in 7th grade through Trinity University and University of Texas at San Antonio, and then dual enrollment at George Washington University for the past two years, receiving my AA degree, this semester has been much easier for me,” Lawrence said.

When starting at Florida A&M, Lawrence was classified as a junior.

Conrad Echols, a classmate of Lawrence’s, says that he didn’t realize how young Lawrence was.

“I think he looks younger than 16,” Echols said. “I couldn’t imagine being away from home at that age.”

Fortunately, Lawrence is not new to the college environment.

“My experiences with college academics have allowed me to develop much better habits and I am much stronger academically with my studies at FAMU than when I first started my college journey,” he said.

When asked about how it is being away from family, Lawrence said he  “hasn’t had much trouble adjusting to FAMU.”

Being away from family is nothing new to Lawrence, who has lived in different states.

“I have had cross-cultural experiences within the country, having lived in New York City, San Antonio, Texas, and Washington, DC, so it isn’t unfamiliar for me to be living in yet another place,” he said.

Lawrence has also studied abroad in China, where he lived with a host family and took the metro to school everyday.

“After that experience, there really isn’t anything to be nervous about,” he said.

Although FAMU may be known for its knowledge on how to “turn up,” Lawrence believes there are other ways to have fun beyond just partying.

“Most people think that partying is the only way to have fun; however, I have found other ways to have fun and occupy my time,” he said.

Even though Lawrence has not reached the legal age to consume alcohol, he has “found many other ways to occupy my time and have fun outside of my classes.”

Lawrence is no stranger to public transportation and doesn’t mind using it.

“I’ve been taking the bus to and from my Chinese class at FSU and to various other places around Tallahassee, including the mall and the martial arts studio where I practice capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art form.”