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Imagine completing an associate's degree while managing HS? A Caltech alum did just that.

We had the opportunity of interviewing Mojo Joshua Sonola, an alum of California Institute of Technology, about: Dual Enrollment


Mojo is a graduate of Caltech with a degree in degree in chemical engineering and a minor in computer science. In high school, he attended the Wheeler High School magnet program while dual enrolled at the Georgia Academy of Mathematics Engineering and Science. Throughout his life, Mojo has been involved in different extracurricular activities, revolving around music, sports, and leadership organizations. Mojo is currently an associate at Goldman Sachs.



Key points he made:

  1. I learned the value of a strong support system and the value of relationships. I went through a lot of difficult academic and personal moments while dually enrolled and was able to lean on family and close friends to make it through them

  2. This was also the first time I truly felt like I needed to learn how to motivate myself and use that to keep myself going through the hard days.



Q: What were the challenges of being dually enrolled to complete an associate’s degree in high school?

A: Being dually enrolled to complete an associate’s degree in high school was logistically challenging. I had many calls and emails with my high school and college to ensure that I would receive both my high school diploma as well as my associate’s degree. On a personal level, living away from my family at college at age 15 was also difficult. I learned a lot about myself in those two years away from my family and felt like I was forced to grow up and mature. One other big problem was that the overwhelming majority of my classes had college students who were above 18 and not the other dually enrolled students my age. This was a bit of a shock to me as all of the friends I made and did homework with were much older than me. Because I was dually enrolled and fully living at and attending college, I missed a lot of events at my high school.



Q: Why did you take this opportunity instead of completing traditional high school courses (What were the benefits of dual enrollment)?

A: I was very hesitant about leaving behind all of my high school friends and life for dual enrollment. Looking back, this is one of the best decisions I’ve made to this date. A major benefit of dual enrollment is the potential for a shortened bachelor degree, as the associate’s degree fulfills requirements for the bachelor degree. For me, this meant I could graduate Georgia Tech in two years instead of the usual four. While this was a strong motivator behind my decision, I mostly dual-enrolled because I believed it would better prepare me for college, both academically and personally. I could learn and adapt to living away from my family as well as get exposed to harder academic classes.



Q: What was a typical day like for you balancing your courses?

A: Like any college, I would have specific classes on certain days of the week. All of my classes had attendance requirements, so I went to each one of them. When I wasn’t in class, I would either study for exams, do homework, or de-stress via music classes or playing a sport at the gym. I chose between these different activities based on the deadlines I had. Mixing non-academic activities into my schedule was important so I wouldn’t burn out, and it added a lot of fun and excitement to my life. The people I played music or sports with would also come back and collaborate on homework problem sets with me, which made this even easier



Q: How would you compare courses you took in high school versus the ones you took as a part of the dual enrollment program?

A: Wheeler Magnet and the Georgia Academy were both difficult academically. I took a few upper-level math courses and organic chemistry at Georgia Academy, which weren’t offered at Wheeler Magnet. Generally,the classes at Georgia Academy were slightly harder than those at Wheeler Magnet, and professors were a lot less lenient.



Q: What important life lessons besides academics did you learn from being dually enrolled?

A: I learned the value of a strong support system and the value of relationships. I went through a lot of difficult academic and personal moments while dually enrolled and was able to lean on family and close friends to make it through them. Living in college at an early age definitely caused me to develop social and mental stability at an earlier age than most people. This was also the first time I truly felt like I needed to learn how to motivate myself and use that to keep myself going through the hard days.



Q: What was the application process for dual enrollment like for you?

A: The application process for dual enrollment was very smooth for me. I had to take the PSAT and a few other tests to ensure I was ready for the academic rigor. Then, I had to get a few recommendations from my high school teachers. Finally, I had an onsite interview where I met the administrators of the program and they assessed my overall fit.



Want to learn more about Mojo? Check out his LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshua-sonola


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