Junior receives college credit and experience

Rachel Kaplan

With his mental calculator, photographic memory, and amazing calculus skills, there is no doubt that John Karlen is one of the smartest students at Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Many, however, do not realize that every day after homeroom, Karlen leaves these very halls to study Calculus 4 at the U of M, increasing his already remarkable mathematic skills.

Starting in Junior High, Karlen participated in the University of Minnesota’s UMTYMP program to get ahead in math, which allowed him to take the SAT as an eighth grader, already having finished Algebra 1 and 2, Precalculus, and Geometry. “I believe my math score was 790 and my English was 580 or 680, something like that. I actually beat my father’s score as a senior in high school,” Karlen said. As an entering freshman in Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Karlen was placed into AP Calculus with students three years older than him.

Now as a junior, Karlen has moved beyond BSM math and leaves school every day to take multi-variable Calculus at the U of M. He likes the fact that the class splits up the school day, and says college is completely different than high school, as his grade is made up completely of midterms, finals, and quizzes. Karlen is fitting in extremely well though. “A lot of college people respect you as you’re taking classes at 17 and they’re 21,” said Karlen. Even though Karlen blends in because he is taller than most of his class, “I dont have near the facial hair that some of my college buddies do,” Karlen said.

He can’t quite get away from the fact that he’s still in high school, however. “Sometimes people ask you if you would like to go study at Starbucks after class and it’s a little weird to reply ‘Yeah… I gotta get back to high school, sorry,’” Karlen said. Last week, in fact, he was invited to a frat party by a junior girl in his math class. “It got a little awkward after I explained I was 17,” Karlen said. Next semester, he will take Linear Algebra and Differential Equations.

In addition to his math endeavors, Karlen has partaken in many other interesting activities. He spent four years living in Texas where he had a southern accent, went wild boar hunting, and read Hamlet, The Tempest, and a Midsummer’s Night Dream in elementary school. Beyond being a math league captain, Karlen plays basketball, has designed and built different types of boats, written plays, and designed robots in his free time.