John Shea: Tackling Law School and Corporate America, by Melody Dornink

Posted: March 3, 2010 in SPOTLIGHT: Kids Making a Difference
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John Shea graduated from college with high honors, accepted a job at a major company in New York, earning $60,000 a year, was offered admission to numerous prestigious law schools, and full-ride scholarships from several – all by the age of 17. CollegePlus! provides opportunity for students to exceed cultural expectations for young people by equipping them with tools that are essential for college success, but, more importantly, for success in life. Shea, a former CollegePlus! student, is a remarkable example of a young man who has defied cultural “norms” and achieved tremendous accomplishments as a result.

Wall Street Journal At Age 7?
John Shea did not start out exceptional. “When I was four or five, I was a very inattentive, chaotic student,” he admits. He had problems reading and hated to write. His mother began home schooling him in first grade, and she invested hours in teaching him to read. Surprisingly, Shea found he loved to read. In fact, he began reading the Wall Street Journal every day, as a seven-year-old. By the age of 12, he was reading War and Peace. He participated in an online literature class with high school and college students worldwide through Angelicum Academy, and was retroactively granted college credits for his work. At the age of 15, he had already earned 18 college credits.

Enter CollegePlus!
Shea’s mother attended a home school conference, heard a presentation of CollegePlus! and convinced him to consider it. “I like to get the most value for my effort,” Shea said. “When I heard I could be knocking off years of college for the same amount of work I was already doing, I got pretty excited.” As a 15-year-old, he jumped into CLEP-testing. “It was great! The flexibility was wonderful. I earned 60 credits’ worth of CLEPs in six months.” When the time came for Shea to transfer his credits to Thomas Edison State College, he was surprised that they accepted all 80+ credits. “By that time, I had developed a very focused, very efficient method of studying. I could study a subject for a day or two, and have a good grasp of the material.” Speed-reading and the memory techniques he had learned in the early stages of CollegePlus! served to give him exceptional advantages in studying for his TESC courses. Shea graduated in the spring of 2007, as a 17-year-old bachelor’s holder. He received the Arnold Fletcher award for “exceptional achievement in independent learning,” along with a 4.0 GPA.

As he assessed his future options, Shea said he realized that “I really had a passion for debate, I liked to read, I enjoyed public speaking and working with people.” This combination caused him to consider law as the path God had chosen for him. His next step was taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). He received an excellent score, in the 98th percentile. However, he chose not to jump into more school right away.

Success in the Workplace
Instead, he began looking for valuable work experience. The opportunity to work in Manhattan at Thomson Reuters Markets presented itself, and he interviewed for the position. “All the interviewer wanted to see was that I had a bachelor’s. He cared more about my smile, my work ethic, and that I was trustworthy, than which institute I graduated from.” He was offered a job at Thomson Reuters making $60,000 a year. “As a 17-year-old kid, that was pretty exciting!” Shea knew very little about accounting, but he was now a balance sheet analyst. He worked hard – implementing speed-reading and memory techniques – to learn “fairly intense revenue accounting, in about a month’s time.” Shea excelled in his job, and used creative problem-solving ideas to save his company time and money. College graduates in their mid- to late-twenties interned for Thomson Reuters, and looked up to him because he had a job at their “dream company.” They attended Ivy League colleges, and most had graduated at the tops of their classes. “These were people who, by conventional wisdom, had achieved the highest education possible; yet, they were coming to me for advice … I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was only 17,” Shea said.

Law School
He chose to attend Ave Maria School of Law, on a full scholarship, “because of their focus on core values, Christian principles, and the Natural Law tradition … I felt that God was calling me to be His lawyer, not just any lawyer, and Ave Maria seemed like a perfect fit for that goal.” Shea has finished his first year of law school, 6th in his class of 124, and in two years, he’ll be graduating with his doctorate at the same time most students are just finishing their undergraduate degrees. For now, he is walking the path God has marked out for him, and is using his talents for God’s glory.

Think Outside the Box!
“Don’t be bound to the expectations of the culture,” Shea encourages, “Try not to compare yourself to other people your age; instead, compare yourself to those you want to be like.” Those who work hard, display strong character, and set themselves apart from a mediocre generation of young people are those who will excel in all that they do. John Shea is a perfect example of this, and his young life testifies to the faithfulness of God in the lives of those who dedicate themselves to Him.

  1. […] John Shea: Tackling Law School and Corporate America, by Melody … […]

  2. Gerri says:

    CollegePlus! is a phenomenal program. I’ve heard a number of stories like this about other CollegePlus! grads and I know a few CollegePlus! students personally, all of which are doing extremely well. This is a great way to a debt free degree.

  3. […] John Shea: Tackling Law School and Corporate America, by Melody … […]

  4. Caitlin says:

    Thanks for sharing this! CollegePlus! is a great program. Can’t wait to hear more stories of students like John!

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