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After two years of high school, sophomore Nadia Messmer is testing out

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After two years of high school, sophomore Nadia Messmer is testing out

With study tools in hand, sophomore Nadia Messmer begins reviewing for the HiSET exam, which will take place at the end of July. Messmer plans to study at least four hours a day all summer, and will have tutors and books to help her. “It will be extremely challenging, but I think if I apply myself I can do really well,” Messmer said. “I’m excited to be working towards an option that will help me achieve my goals on my own time.”

With study tools in hand, sophomore Nadia Messmer begins reviewing for the HiSET exam, which will take place at the end of July. Messmer plans to study at least four hours a day all summer, and will have tutors and books to help her. “It will be extremely challenging, but I think if I apply myself I can do really well,” Messmer said. “I’m excited to be working towards an option that will help me achieve my goals on my own time.”

Kayla Reuther

With study tools in hand, sophomore Nadia Messmer begins reviewing for the HiSET exam, which will take place at the end of July. Messmer plans to study at least four hours a day all summer, and will have tutors and books to help her. “It will be extremely challenging, but I think if I apply myself I can do really well,” Messmer said. “I’m excited to be working towards an option that will help me achieve my goals on my own time.”

Kayla Reuther

Kayla Reuther

With study tools in hand, sophomore Nadia Messmer begins reviewing for the HiSET exam, which will take place at the end of July. Messmer plans to study at least four hours a day all summer, and will have tutors and books to help her. “It will be extremely challenging, but I think if I apply myself I can do really well,” Messmer said. “I’m excited to be working towards an option that will help me achieve my goals on my own time.”

By Kayla Reuther, Parkway West High School

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While most students choose to complete the standard four years of high school, sophomore Nadia Messmer will complete only two before moving across the country this autumn to either Boston or San Francisco with hopes of starting a new chapter: college.

Having moved around a lot, Messmer did not want to start over at another high school this fall, especially after attending three different schools in the last four years. Instead, she began to look for a way to spend the next two years in what she felt was a more productive manner. This summer, Messmer plans to take the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) and graduate early.

“The only reason it is important to finish high school is to get a diploma so you can go to college, so I figured I would rather study intensely for two months, instead of two whole years of my life that I could be applying to more important goals,” Messmer said.

The HiSET consists of five sub categories: Language Arts – Writing, Language Arts – Reading, Science, Mathematics and Social Studies. Each category is a different test varying in length, but hovering around 120 minutes each. Upon passing each test, Messmer will be presented with a High School Equivalency Certificate, which offers the same qualifications as a high school diploma. It will state that she is both college and career ready and will allow her to apply to the college of her choice.

“My middle school had finals, so I generally know what to expect. I know how much I need to study and the kind of studying I need to do to keep myself remembering things. Big tests do stress me out, but I am going to have a lot more time to prepare for this one,” Messmer said.

When she gets to Boston, she plans on applying to community college there. Eventually, she wants to further her education at a four-year institution.  

“When I first started talking about doing this, I got a lot of doubt from people and I think I really underestimated the psychological effects of going against society or going against what’s normal,” Messmer said. “But at this point, I just want to be wherever I will be the most challenged, accepted and driven.”

The HiSET is primarily geared toward high school dropouts who are now adults. However, students 16 and older with at least 16 credits can take it to graduate early. Counselor Jennifer Wibbenmeyer introduced the option of the test to Messmer.

“One thing that impresses me is that Nadia is not impulsive in her decisions. She does the research and asks the right questions and she would never have thought to proceed without doing her due diligence,” Wibbenmeyer said. “I would recommend students like Nadia to take this test that definitely are goal oriented and already planning that next step. This is for students who educationally can prove that they’ve acquired the knowledge to graduate and are wanting to fast-forward and begin that next step.”

At this point, I just want to be wherever I will be the most challenged, accepted and driven,”

— Nadia Messmer

The test will include information that she is unfamiliar with, information that most people learn junior or senior year. Along with tutors to help her study, Messmer ordered practice workbooks and will also take advantage of the substantial amount of practice tests on the HiSET website.

“It is fairly daunting to stare at this huge amount of work I have to do, but what keeps me going is that if I focus and I work really hard for the two months over the summer, then that’s two years of my life that I’ll be able to have more freedom and possibly make closer friendships at college and live in a city that is full of life, which is something that I’ve been missing here,” Messmer said.

Messmer gave herself four other options besides the HiSET in an effort to make her future feel less restricting. They included going to another high school in Boston, one in San Francisco, home schooling or an early start college called Simon’s Rock.

“I’m doing this for me first and foremost, but I also want to share this with people so they know that they have more options. I have always been very attracted to a sense of freedom,” Messmer said, “I read somewhere that someone who has only two options will be less satisfied about their decision theoretically than someone who has five or six. I’m pretty confident in this one.”

Messmer wants people to know that there are multiple ways to fulfill the requirements of their education and that what is normal is not always a universal solution.

“If there is one impact I make at West while I am here, it’s that I want people to know that they have their freedom of choice to live their life however they want to and not feel bound by ACT scores, their parents’ expectations, what the job economy is like or anything else,” Messmer said. “The reason I started looking for this in the first place was that I wasn’t seeing a purpose to what I was doing. It seemed like I had to take courses to fulfill abstract requirements that I could not really see helping my future. I want to be in a place where I feel like what I do makes a difference. So that’s where I’m going.”

This story was originally published on Pathfinder on April 12, 2019.

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