Local News

Home schooled Wallingford teen gets a head start on college

By Stephen Seitz


By Stephen Seitz

WALLINGFORD – Most students end their high school days with a diploma and a hazy idea of what lies ahead.

Not Wallingford’s Riley Phillips. He’s 18, home-schooled, and has already earned two associate’s degrees from the Community College of Vermont. One is in business management, the other in computer systems management.

“Technically, I’m still a high school student,” he said. “I never went to high school and never took an SAT. So I’ve applied to UVM as a transfer student from CCV. If I’m accepted, they’ll give me some money off the cost.”

While Phillips did take a few courses in public high school classrooms, he was never a full-time student. He explained that he didn’t like Mill River, where he was taking math and science classes, so he decided to enroll in college courses.

“It started in 2011… I started taking computer courses at CCV along with my brother,” Phillips said.

CCV resource advisor Ginger Gellman said she first encountered Phillips when he started taking courses at age 14.

Phillips is hardly the first home-schooled student to take classes at CCV, Gellman said.

“It’s pretty common to have three or five home-schooled students here in Rutland,” she said. “Our schedule is pretty easy to work around, and the costs are a little lower.”

“I hope he goes into business,” she added. “He’s got an unusual presence. When he speaks to you, he looks you right in the eye.”

Phillips said a lot of his education came from his parents letting him learn the things he wanted to learn.

“I learned to teach myself things,” he said. “When I went to sixth grade I was behind, but I caught up quickly, and then I kept going.”

If he’s accepted at the University of Vermont, Phillips said he’ll take a four-year course load and major in business administration.

“After that, I’ll try to find a company to pay for my master’s degree,” Phillips said. “Business sparks my interest, and I know business structure, because my dad runs his own business. I like working with people, and I’d like to start my own business one day. That would be wonderful.”

Phillips said he likes to keep focused on his priorities.

“I like to have a goal,” he said. “If I don’t have a goal, I’m lost. A ship with no heading doesn’t leave port.”

Phillips said his father runs a construction company and he’s worked for that company off and on.

“I’m a lumber relocation specialist,” he said, smiling. “That means I carry boards on my shoulder and take them where they’re needed.”

Phillips said he won’t be joining his father’s company after graduation, however. “He told me, ‘I don’t want you pounding nails for a living,’” Phillips said, “but I’ll probably be working for him this summer.”

Phillips said he thought about joining the Army, but decided against it.

“I’ve got a number of relatives in the Air Force,” he said, “but I don’t think the Army is the place for me, unless it’s intelligence.”

Phillips said his younger brother is on a similar path to his own, and he’s eager to get his GED.

“He’s 15,” Phillips said. “He’s taking driver’s ed and gym [at public school.] Part of it is to meet other people.  It’s hard to make friends when your home-schooled. That’s why I took sixth grade. But I found out I didn’t like eight hours of school.”

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