When former Aquinas College pupil Jake Hoffart went to Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology to find out about studying business, he thought he wouldn't be starting his studies for nearly two years. Just 15 years old at the time, he was shocked to find he could start as soon as he'd finished Year 12.
“Mum and I couldn't believe it,” Jake says. “We said ‘no' initially but then I went home and thought about it and realised it didn't make much sense to go back for Year 13. I had my excellence endorsements and I was ready to get stuck into my degree.”
Jake promptly enrolled into the NZ Diploma in Business with Toi Ohomai, attending his first tertiary class when he was 16. It was a move that surprised Jake's friends and initially worried his parents.
“My parents were concerned I was a bit young, but they left the decision to me and now think it's fantastic. Me too. I've saved heaps of money by living at home and I'm two years ahead of my friends.”
Now Jake is halfway through his Bachelor of Management Studies, majoring in finance, with the University of Waikato in Tauranga.
Mark Wilson, group leader business studies at Toi Ohomai, says he can tell in the interview if a younger student will be suitable for the programme – it's all about how they respond to their future goals.
“Attitude and intrinsic drive are what will help you succeed. It's awesome to have a budding student in here with that drive – you know they will go places.”
Jake is already proving that. As well as his studies, he won the Port of Tauranga cadetship offered to second year business students at Toi Ohomai.
“It's a great job. They really look after you and work around your studies supremely.
“Leaving high school early was scary at the time but in hindsight it's the best thing I've ever done. If you have a goal of getting ahead and you're prepared to put the effort in, this is a really good choice.”