Senior Spotlight: 18-year-old Otterbein Chemistry Major Began his College Journey in Middle School

Posted Apr 27, 2022

By Riley Hysell ’22

As his graduation approaches, Otterbein senior Jaden Partlow reflects back on his college experience with the nuance one might expect of a student with a consistently high GPA, a seemingly permanent spot on the dean’s list, and an award for academic excellence as a senior chemistry major. What is even more impressive and unique about his success? He is only 18 years old.

When Partlow was in seventh grade, at 12 years old, he learned about the College Credit Plus program. College Credit Plus is a dual enrollment program that allows middle school and high school students to earn college credits alongside their necessary credits.

Partlow participated in the program to the maximum extent he could, taking college courses at Columbus State Community College from that moment through his sophomore year in high school.

“I was doing one or two classes at a time, slowly knocking requirements out along the way,” Partlow explained. “By the time I was 16 and a junior in high school, I was full-time at Otterbein.”

While Partlow recognized the value of earning these early college credits from the moment he started, it wasn’t until later in the program that he realized just how many credits he had earned.

“Over the course of middle school and high school, I completed three years of college,” he said with a mix of pride and sustained awe at his own accomplishment.

And Partlow’s unique journey and success will not end with his graduation. Partlow has been accepted to Ohio University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, which he starts this fall. He has also already been accepted to Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, which he will start at in the fall of 2023 at 19 years old.

“The MBA doesn’t start until August, so after graduation I’m probably going to take a little bit of time to travel and take a little break. That’s probably going to be one of the last breaks I’ll get for a while,” Partlow laughed.

For everything that makes Partlow’s journey unique, he explained that his advancement did not change his middle school, high school, or college experiences. He and his middle school and high school friends thought that it was “kind of cool” that Partlow regularly interacted with older college students. And once at Otterbein, he found that his age did not really factor into the experience at all. Partlow’s challenges were those of any college student.

Partlow did stress, however, that it helped him immensely to have many people supporting him as he progressed through college.

“The key to success is surrounding yourself with friends that are going to push you,” he said. “Together, you can do that late night homework or lab you’re really struggling with, and just push each other to be better.”

As Partlow prepares for graduation and beyond, he is confronted with a powerful truth: all of this began with a decision he made at just 12 years old. His graduation represents the culmination of work he has done since middle school, a fact of which Partlow is well aware and appreciative.

“The hard work I’ve been putting in over the years, since I was really young, has paid off,” Partlow said.

In fact, Partlow’s hard work is only just beginning to pay off.