While most 13-year-olds are adjusting to their last year in middle school remotely, Jack Rico is adjusting to his first year at UNLV. [Note: Not college itself — UNLV specifically.] Jack graduated from Fullerton College, a community college in California, last spring with not one, two, or even three degrees, but four associates degrees. And he did it all in just two years.
Jack and his family decided it was time to take the next step and pursue a four-year degree, so they decided UNLV would be the best fit for him. The family has been traveling to Las Vegas for years. Between the familiarity Vegas gave the family and the academics UNLV has to offer, making the decision was a no brainer. The 13-year-old plans on majoring in history.
“My mom said I became fascinated by our history at a very early age. I apparently had all the presidents and vice presidents memorized by 3 years old,” Jack says. “Instead of birthday parties, I would ask my parents if they could take trips to famous museums, monuments, or historical points of interest. Being homeschooled I was able to learn about a historical place or event and then go visit it. It really brought the learning to life for me. “
He’s taking a full load of five classes this fall, but the two he looks forward to the most to are Russian Terrorism and History of American Film. Both are being taught in-person this semester.
For the most part, Jack’s first few weeks of classes have gone smoothly. He felt he has adjusted well to the new environment, but like most college students, his biggest challenge is time management.
He travels to and from Vegas every week for classes and stays in a hotel with his family. For the days he’s back home in California, he splits time between his mom and dad’s house. Finding time to study between the constant traveling could be challenging for anyone, but Jack isn’t letting this get in the way of his education.
“Coming up with a study schedule and sticking to it is imperative,” he said. That's sage advice for students of any age.
He said it's important for him to take brain breaks from school. He steps away from academics through video games, especially creator games like Roblox. The hobby may become a career for him.
“I have a cousin who is a tech recruiter and has been encouraging me to go that route (as a video game developer). Classes in that field are definitely something on my list of classes to take.“
Jack plans to graduate with his bachelor’s degree by next year, and then explore topics other than history before he chases after his master’s and doctoral degrees. He isn’t sure what else he would like to do in the future, but there’s no doubt he will find himself making history himself as one of UNLV’s youngest grads.