14-year-old TCC graduate follows sister to early college success

When your older sister makes national news for being accepted into college at nine (yes, nine) and law schools at the age of 16 (yes, 16), it might seem difficult to carve your own path and not be known simply as her little brother. That is not a concern for Ian Taylor Schlitz, a 14-year-old TCC graduate who is now a year away from completing his bachelor’s degree. That’s in addition to his role as president and CEO of his own business. At age 14 (yes, 14).

The Taylor Schlitz children are clearly exceptional. TCC told the story of Haley Taylor Schlitz in 2019, as she earned her associate and bachelor’s degrees (from TCC and Texas Woman’s University, respectively)  and went on to law school at Southern Methodist University. Both Haley and Ian tested as highly gifted at a young age, and their parents pulled them from public school in order to let them learn at an individualized pace. “Once we got them into a homeschool environment, where we could build and tool their education just for them, they both made rapid advancement,” explains their father, William Schlitz.

Rapid advancement, indeed. Ian was ready to enroll in college-level classes at the age of 10. His sister was having a very positive experience at TCC Northeast, so it was an easy choice for Ian to start college there as well.

“I loved attending TCC,” says Ian, who turns 15 this fall. “The Northeast campus was a great place to take classes. My professors and classmates were all so nice and supportive.”

Welcoming, Affordable and High-Caliber: TCC was a natural choice for the Taylor Schlitz children

TCC was advantageous to William Schlitz and his wife, Dr. Myiesha Taylor, for a variety of reasons. In addition to appreciating that their children were welcomed on campus without question, the parents valued the college’s affordable pathway to a degree. The Taylor Schlitz children also had the opportunity to learn from respected faculty dedicated to teaching. “Our community colleges are an important part of our higher education system,” points out Schlitz. “This is especially true for Tarrant County College campuses.”

As a TCC student, Ian took speech, U.S. history, art appreciation, English composition, foreign language, government, algebra, science and physical education classes, in addition to exploring computer coding, digital art and animation—ultimately completing 60 credit hours. One of Ian’s first classes was Drawing I. Among his classmates? His sister Haley, who helped Ian transition to the college environment.

“I learned a lot from watching Haley with her own education,” notes Ian. “When I started to take classes at TCC, Haley would help me organize my schedule at the start of the semester. She showed me how to manage my time.”

Between Haley’s influence and his own acumen, Ian excelled. “Ian is an ideal student,” says Andrew Stalder, associate professor of art at TCC Northeast, who taught the drawing class. “He always had a positive attitude and was excited to tackle the assignments.”

Even though it was a surprise to Stalder to have a student whose age had just reached double digits, Ian says he never felt singled out. “Mr. Stalder treated me as he did every other student. It didn’t matter that I was young. He believed in me and helped me to work at the top of my ability. His class was one of my favorite classes ever.”

Ian had no problem developing rapport with fellow students. Stalder says Ian fit in very well and that the other students were impressed with Ian’s aptitude. And socializing became an important part of Ian’s college experience. “One of my favorite things about TCC Northeast was that I had time between my classes that allowed me to go to the student center, and I would play video games with the other students,” remembers Ian. “I really enjoyed that time to just be a student and get to connect with other students on campus.”

An interest in video games is one way that Ian is similar to other teens, despite his academic acceleration. “Beyond that, Haley and Ian are like any other teenage kids in America,” Schlitz says. “They have their friends and social activities and love to do things like play Fortnite. Sometimes I think we forget that they are on a different academic journey than their peers. In reality, it is just normal for us now.”

Lessons Learned: Ian Taylor Schlitz and sister Haley continue to thrive

Ian and Haley’s father said one of the biggest lessons for him was to ‘get out of the way.’ “I had to learn to stop trying to put them in the boxes we have created, based on age, in society,” he states. “Once I learned that, I think I became a better, more supportive parent for their journeys.”

Ian’s journey continues at the University of North Texas. Like Haley, Ian still lives at home in Keller; he is part of UNT’s Honors College and majoring in Integrative Studies, a multidisciplinary degree designed for students with diverse interests. Ian is a junior and expects to graduate in 2021. And what’s next? The possibilities are endless.

“I’m not sure exactly what I want to do right now,” Ian shares. “I enjoy running my business, Kidlamity Gaming, which hosts video game tournaments for kids. I think I may decide to get my MBA next. My mom is a physician, and I think I may want to be a physician someday. Luckily for me, I have time to pursue the MBA and still go to medical school if I want. That’s one of the best things about early college.”

While he is talented and ambitious like his older sister, Ian differs from Haley in personality. “I am quieter and like to just focus on my classes. I enjoy being at home and working on animation projects with my friends online,” he says. “Haley is very outgoing and really likes to be to be involved in activities.”

Haley is in her second year at the SMU Dedman School of Law, currently taking five classes. “I really love SMU,” she says. “The faculty are amazing, and they have been very supportive.” Haley spent last summer as a judicial intern for a Dallas County judge and as a Young Scholar for the African American Policy Forum.

And she’s “immensely proud” of her brother. “I am excited to see him graduate soon and continue to pursue his dreams,” Haley declares.

For both Taylor Schlitz teens, TCC was instrumental in their academic success. “TCC helped me build my confidence in my abilities to do early college,” Haley notes. “I learned how to manage my time and hold myself accountable. I am proud to be a TCC alumna.”

Haley and Ian’s father says TCC was undoubtedly the best choice for his children. “The education they both received, I believe, is equal to any university,” William Schlitz says. “They thrived because they had a supportive group of faculty and advisors. Watching Haley and Ian do well after they transferred from TCC made us really realize what a great foundation they received.”

And the Taylor Schlitz legacy continues; Ian and Haley’s 12-year-old sister Hana started taking classes at TCC this past summer. Expect more remarkable achievements from all the siblings in the years ahead.