Northridge senior Cody Quitter is among 16,000 students nationwide who have been named National Merit semifinalists and will compete for 8,400 scholarships awarded next spring.

Northridge senior Cody Quitter is among 16,000 students nationwide who have been named National Merit semifinalists and will compete for 8,400 scholarships awarded next spring.

The original pool included 1.5-million juniors from 22,000 high schools nationwide who took the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying exam.

Right now, though, Quitter is too busy to worry much about that. He's started working this year at Kroger's, and he's busy taking 12 credit hours of college courses, including chemistry and physics, at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

In fact, Quitter has already completed 16 college courses, and will complete several more this year before he graduates.

"He's taken a lot of his liberal arts general core classes already," said Melissa Quitter, Cody's mother. "Chemistry and physics will probably count toward his major, if he goes into engineering."

In the winter and spring, Quitter will continue courses at Mt. Vernon, and will add courses at Ohio State University Newark also.

"Technically speaking, he is a Northridge student," his mother said. "But he's enrolled at both colleges. He had to apply and be accepted at both Mt. Vernon and OSU Newark."

Quitter will graduate from Northridge under the state's post-secondary options program, under which he does not have to pay tuition for the college credits he earned while in high school. Quitter thinks he will study computer engineering, but he's also interested in chemical and materials science.

He does well in grammar and English, but finds that harder than math and science.

"I like English, and I'm good at grammar, but sometimes actually sitting down and writing an essay out is more difficult for me," Quitter said. "I'm more of a math type person. The writing is more difficult, so I put more time into that when I work on those things."

Quitter has been home schooled since first grade, when his parents, including his father Mark, decided he was not being challenged.

Many home-school families take advantage of home school co-ops, where they can share knowledge and curriculum and have a social experience.

For the past two years, though, Quitter has been sitting with college students.

"At first I was a little bit nervous about taking college classes," he said. "But after I completed a few, I've grown used to it. Getting college credit at the same time as high school credit really helps out, and will allow me to finish college sooner."

His mother estimates he'll have two years of college completed by the time he enrolls in a degree program.

Melissa Quitter has become expert in home schooling, with two more children following the same path, Nathan, 14, in eighth grade, and Bailey, 8, in third grade. At first she was aware of being perceived as unusual in pursuing home schooling, but she said the perception has changed.

"Early on when Cody was younger there was more of that, but home schooling has become more accepted, and there's very little of that now," Quitter said.

"Most people are supportive of choice, of parents having the choice," she said. "But there are still some people who don't think it's right, who think they need the different things they would experience in a school setting being with different teachers."

Quitter said the main factor to deciding to home school is not wealth or family education, but commitment to the effort.

"There's not a right or wrong family for home schooling," Quitter said. "There might be a right or wrong time, depending on what your needs are.

"You need to be committed - more than education level, more than money, more than anything else you need to be committed to it," she said. "There have been times we've spent a lot of money on materials and other years where we've leaned on the libraries. It changes and it depends on the student and what their needs are. What's right for Cody is not right for Bailey."