By Tracy Clemons
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Next month, thousands of students will move into their dorms to start their freshman year at colleges across the metro area. But two brothers from Northwoods are starting their college journey a little early. And they overcame incredible odds to do it.
James and Virgil Fuller are volunteers at the Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club in St. Louis. James is 17. Virgil is 16. And after years of being home-schooled, they'll start at Webster University in August.
"Maybe we did two years in a public school system. But (our parents) just thought home-schooling would be better for the both of us both academically and socially," says Virgil Fuller.
"Both boys were diagnosed as ADHD and they were encountering a number of different issues at school," says their father, Leroy Williams.
Their parents Leroy and Edna Williams started home-schooling them while they were elementary-age.
"It's a family project," Leroy Williams says. "And it's not something you take lightly because motivation becomes an issue over a period of time."
He says it was always the goal for them to go to college early.
"On the one hand it was impressive that I was 15 applying for college. But on the other hand, would they look at me and say 'he's not mature enough,' 'he's going to cause trouble on campus,'" Virgil says.
"As students, we'll have to really show Webster, even though we're younger than the people around us, we can still do everything that they can do," says James Fuller. "And we can do it the same or better."
Virgil says Webster went out on a limb for him.
"I think Webster had a difficult time deciding whether they wanted to let me live on campus because of my age. But it turns out they allowed me to live on campus," he says.
They'll have rooms next to each other. Their mom says just like home-schooling had its challenges, so will college.
"I think socially they'll maybe have a little challenge getting started, especially freshman year, but I think it'll turn out ok for them," says Edna Williams.
A Webster official we talked to says it's not uncommon for 17-year-olds to apply. But 16-year-olds are much rarer, and they get them every few of years. The last one was in 2011.