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Master's Degree at 19: Ahmad Salem


Ahmad Salem is 19 yrs old and has already earned his bachelors and masters all without stepping foot in a college classroom.

“My high school experience was the same as everybody else. I went to madison academic magnet high school, but then when I got through my junior year of high school I learned about something called a CLEP program, which allowed me to test out of college classes,” Ahmad Salem.

After passing a US history CLEP test his junior year of high school Ahmad found himself motivated by how easily he earned college credits.

“I finished my freshman year of college my summer of junior year. That was supposed to be the goal of the whole program but I basically took it a step further and finished my associate's degree before I finished high school," says Salem.

Salem is the first madison high school student to complete his associate's degree before graduation. He completely tested out of his associate's degree by taking 31 CLEP exams and did it all while working full time. He was able to take CLEP tests for free through a program called modern states.

Salem says he was far from the smartest in his high school, "You know there was clearly people that were more academically successful than me. I wasn’t valedictorian or salutatorian, not even top 10 really. I was your average guy…I had decent grades. I wasn’t your straight-A student nor did I have anywhere close to a 4.0 GPA.”

His success didn’t come because he was smarter than everyone else it was simply hard work and sacrifice.

“I sacrificed an entire summer, every day either studying or working. And people would say ‘why would you do that?’ and I’m like, okay if I got my MBA at 19 yrs old, it takes most people 6 or 7 years to do that, I just saved 6 yrs of my life,” Salem says.

He finished his master's in business administration through a 6-month online program at 19 years old.

“I can do it, anyone can do it. I see an opportunity and I wanted it and then worked for it. And anyone in this city, this state or this county can do the exact same thing.”

Ahmad encourages others to explore education opportunities like CLEP tests and online classes.

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