When autocomplete options are available, use up and down arrows to review and enter to select.
Apply Give

17-year-old earns business degree from Liberty before finishing high school

Ryland Dickman at his degree presentation ceremony at Williams Stadium during Liberty’s 48th Commencement in May

Recent Liberty University graduate Ryland Dickman (’21) showcased his love for learning and relentless drive to succeed throughout his teenage years as he balanced high school and college course loads simultaneously.

While learning eight languages (he speaks fluent English, Italian, and German), and participating in afterschool and family activities, Dickman, from Charlottesville, Va., was able to complete his associate degree during his sophomore year of high school at a local community college. He followed that accomplishment by earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree through Liberty University Online Programs in May.

As the youngest graduate to earn a bachelor’s degree in the Class of 2021, Dickman, 17, said that he is thankful for how Liberty’s online platform helped him to achieve his dream of graduating from college before he even graduated from high school.

“I had heard great things about Liberty and their online program,” Dickman said. “They were flexible with online courses and not having any set login times, which allowed for me to do my homework at night on my own schedule. In the spring, I would have musical theatre rehearsals and wouldn’t be able to do my homework until late, so not having a set time where I had to be doing it in the day was very helpful.”

He said that despite his academic success in high school and community college, many universities do not allow students to enroll without a high school diploma.

“Unlike Liberty, not all the universities I looked into were willing to accept all my credits and CLEP exams,” Dickman said. “But Liberty was very helpful with that and due to my having an associate degree, they made the decision to accept me.”

“I am thankful that Liberty’s online faculty was patient and helpful. Above all, my professors prayed for me throughout my journey,” he added.

Now, with a high school diploma, associate, and bachelor’s degrees, Dickman is hopeful that he has accumulated an academic resumé that will give him an edge in pursuing his next dream — attending law school in Europe.

“I would like to become an international business lawyer,” he said, noting that he is hoping to begin studying at a law school in Italy this fall. “Law has always interested me,” he said. “When I read a new law or read a contract, I become very excited. Something that is often daunting to many people is exciting to me.”

“I’ve always also had an interest in business, which is why I studied it at Liberty, and I also would enjoy some travel. Being an international business lawyer combines all those,” he added.

After earning his business degree from Liberty in May, Dickman graduated from The Covenant School in Charlottesville, Va., in June.

This month, Dickman expects to hear back from law schools he has applied to and will then decide whether to enroll in the fall or wait until the spring. Regardless, he said he cannot wait to begin studying in another culture.

“I’m excited to speak other languages and not just English every day. I’m also looking forward to traveling and being able to experience a different culture. Even the legal systems that I will be studying will say a lot about the culture.”