15 and in college


Brooke Colombo

15-year-old Pramati Madugula is attending the University of North Texas for the TAMS program. Living on the campus in Denton, Madugula (who asked not to have her picture used for this story) moved away from her family to get a head start on college.

While most juniors are just now thinking about what college they wanna attend, 15-year-old Pramati Madugula is living in Denton attending school at the University of North Texas campus.

She’s there as part of the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a two-year residential early entrance college program where students finish their last two years of high school while simultaneously being enrolled in their first two years of college.

I decided to come to TAMS because I wanted an opportunity to challenge myself beyond what was offered at a regular high school, ”

— Pramati Madugula

Not only is Pramati getting a head start on college, but she got an early jump on TAMS by way of a summer school program.

“It’s a program for incoming juniors into TAMS to get a head start on research,” Pramati said. “Every day I would work eight to nine hours in the lab. The research itself wasn’t really relevant to what I wanted to in my career but I learned a lot from it especially how to conduct oneself in the lab setting. It would have been kind of nice to spend the summer before I leave with my family but I decided to do it and it was a great experience, I don’t know if I would do it again though.”

Just eight weeks into the two-year program, Pramati has found things she really likes compared to regular schools.

“If you’re a right fit, you can really prosper and do so much more than your regular high school because there is just a lot of opportunity here that you that you wouldn’t find in normal high schools,” Pramati said. “There is a whole new resource in the people themselves because at our regular high schools everyone gets ranked and there is so much competition about GPA and ranks but here, TAMS doesn’t rank so everyone is very willing to help out. So the community here is great and so are the students especially the seniors here. The amount they do is mind blowing and they are always so supportive.”

It’s something a 15-year-old like Pramati needs as she now lives in a dorm room.

“Living away from my family was very difficult for me,” Pramati said. “I wasn’t used to managing my own meals, looking after my own health, I always had my own parents to remind me to take my medication or to eat at certain times and go to sleep. What I miss most about living in my house are the little things, like watching the news with my dad at night or eating together, you know, I just can’t have those things anymore, and it feels lonely sometimes by myself in my room studying and eating so yeah I just miss being around my family.”

It’s a mutual feeling as a little sister, Mahati, misses having Pramati around the house.

If you’re a right fit, you can really prosper and do so much more than your regular high school because there is just a lot of opportunity here that you that you wouldn’t find in normal high schools,”

— Madugula said

“We usually play piano together, she teaches me,” Mahati said. “We draw and paint together. We also used to fight a lot but after we fight we get along pretty well together. I didn’t think I would miss this but I miss fighting because she used to chase me around and I didn’t like it then but now I miss it.”

Mahati isn’t the only one missing Pramati as dad Sreenivas wasn’t ready for her to leave home.

“I was also sad that she was going away from home so soon and I also worried about whether she would adjust to college life,” Sreenivas said. “I miss watching her favorite TV shows with her and I just miss having her at home.”

But now that she’s a college student, she has to learn how to manage her time without the help of her family or teachers.

“One thing that’s so difficult, here we have so much free time, you kinda just have to find ways to be purposeful and not waste your time because it’s really easy to lose track of time,” Pramati said. “And at the end of the day, you feel like you haven’t done anything at all. Because in regular high school your days are structure, 9:00 to 4:15 you have to be in this class at a certain time doing the assignments that teachers assign. But here you don’t even have to pay attention in class, the professor doesn’t care, so if you miss lectures no one will probably notice so it’s really up to you how you take advantage of this environment.”

Perhaps Pramati’s biggest adjustment to college life came after moving into her dorm as she had learned how to be a roommate with a stranger.

“I haven’t had a roommate before moving here for the past couple of years ever since I got my own room,” Pramati said. “So yeah I’ve missed having my own space but, it’s nice having a roommate because you don’t feel as lonely. It’s really easy to get into your own world here because there is no one looking after you. So as long as there is someone beside you, you can keep talking with them and it won’t get as lonely and that’s the nice part about it.”