A perfect college choice

Michael Morton of Rangely, who recorded a perfect score on the ACT, is headed to Los Angeles, where he will attend college.

Michael Morton of Rangely, who recorded a perfect score on the ACT, is headed to Los Angeles, where he will attend college.
Michael Morton of Rangely, who recorded a perfect score on the ACT, is headed to Los Angeles, where he will attend college.
RANGELY I Michael Morton could’ve had his pick of colleges. He picked one he had never heard of before.
Morton, who was home schooled since the first grade but played sports at Rangely High School, will head to Los Angeles today to attend Harvey Mudd College, a liberal arts school with an emphasis on math and science.
Morton considered other colleges, such as MIT, Stanford and Colorado School of Mines, but settled on Harvey Mudd. When you get a perfect score on the ACT, as Morton did, you can pretty much pick your school.
Asked how many colleges he heard from, Morton said, “Oh, man, it must have been in the hundreds. Honestly, I couldn’t go through each one and look at ’em, so I just checked ’em out on my own. I checked out MIT, but it was too big. Stanford was pretty interesting. I even checked out the Mines here, but it was a little too nerdy for me.”
The coach for a statewide math team that Morton was a member of recommended Harvey Mudd, named for its founder.
“She thought it was a school I would enjoy,” said Morton, who was a National Merit Scholarship recipient. “By reputation, they’re very big in math and science, but, technically, they’re a liberal arts school. I went and visited and I liked it. They have a lot of personality. It’s very unorthodox.”
Like any first-year college student from a small town, Morton is a bit apprehensive about heading off to the big city.
“Whew, it’s going to be a big step,” he said. “It’s a little intimidating. I have some family in that area, a great-aunt and uncle, so I can hang out with them. And I’ve got a roommate who is from Los Angeles, so he’s promised to show me the ropes.”
Not that Morton will have a lot of spare time for sightseeing. He’s enrolled for 17 class hours.
“Harvey Mudd is known for not getting many students through with A’s,” Morton said. “There are like three people in the history of the school who have got straight A’s all four years.”
For all but the first grade, Morton was home schooled by his mom Carol. His father David is the minister of First Baptist Church in Rangely.
Asked about being home schooled, Morton said, “It was a little weird at first, you know, not hanging out with the other kids all day. But I’m kind of an introvert, so learning at my own pace was just awesome.”
Morton’s older brother, Peter, who attends Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., was home schooled as are his younger siblings, Marie and Andrew.
“People have asked me about being home schooled,” Morton said. “It’s not right for everybody. My older brother struggled with it, because he’s a people person. But, for me, it worked out great. I loved it.”
For Morton, it was the best of both worlds. He was home schooled, which he liked, and he played sports at the local public schools, which he also enjoyed. Morton participated in football, basketball and track for Rangely High School, and swam for Rangely’s summer club team up until his junior year. He even played golf for one season for RHS.
“But that was kind of a disaster,” he said with a laugh. “Basketball was my favorite sport, without a doubt.”
Mark Skelton, Rangely boys’ basketball coach, enjoyed coaching Morton.
“He’s just one of those kids you love to have on your team,” Skelton said. “He’s very coachable. He’s a coach’s dream.”
Even though Morton didn’t attend public school with the rest of his teammates, fitting in with them was not a problem, he said.
“I definitely felt accepted,” Morton said.
He may even try out for the basketball team at Harvey Mudd.
“I’m interested in it,” said the 6-4 Morton. “I’d like to try, but they are really good. I’ve talked to the coach already and he said I could send some tape. He said I could try out and practice with the team. We’ll have to see. I’ll want to settle in to the schoolwork first.”
School comes first for Morton. He started taking the ACT when he was in the eighth grade.
“I got a lot of 35s. A perfect score is 36. My parents said as soon as I got a perfect score I could be done (taking the ACT), and wouldn’t you know it happened on the last time, of course,” said Morton, who aced the test in October.
Morton’s score on the SAT was nothing to sneeze at, either.
“I think my highest was a 1510,” he said. “The top score is 1600. I never could quite get the English there.”
No surprise for someone who hopes to become a nuclear physicist, math is Morton’s favorite subject.
“A big part of my interest (in math) comes from Mr. (Mel) Oliver. He used to be the math teacher at the high school,” Morton said. “He let me join the math club when I was in the seventh grade. He was phenomenal. He had a great love for math. He inspired me.”
Morton hopes to someday inspire students himself.
“Eventually, I’m going to teach,” he said. “Before then, I’ll probably get into a research group, maybe along the lines of nuclear fusion.”
Just what you’d expect from someone who got a perfect score on the ACT.