The 10 Youngest College Students Of All Time

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For most of us, conquering the classes it takes to get a college degree is hard enough at 18, but for some super smart individuals out there, higher education begins a whole lot earlier. As amazing as it is, some kids are ready to take it all on before they’ve even hit the double digits, graduating with a PhD before they’re old enough to vote. Here are some of the youngest students the world’s colleges have ever seen, showing what it truly means to be a child prodigy.

  1. Michael KearneyThis bright young man proves that having a disability like ADHD shouldn’t hold you back if you’ve got the brains. At only four years old, Michael aced the John Hopkins diagnostic for a precocious math test, without having studied for it at all. Those math skills would pay off over the next few years, as he would graduate from high school at six. That same year, Kearney enrolled at the Santa Rosa Junior College, completing an Associate’s in geology at age 8 and going on to finish his Bachelor’s degree by age 10, making him the world’s youngest university graduate. Kearney went on to get his Master’s in biochemistry and later taught classes at Vanderbilt University while he was working on a second master’s in computer science.
  2. Moshe Kai CavalinA passion for astrophysics pushed this young student forward. Moshe enrolled in college at East Los Angeles College at age eight, graduating in 2009 with an impressive 4.0 GPA and full honors. As for his career post-college, Moshe isn’t rushing anything. He decided to take a year off to rest, learn to scuba dive, write a book and hone his already sharp martial arts skills. He plans to return to school to complete a degree in astrophysics, but with a Bachelor’s under his belt at 11, he’s in no hurry.
  3. Alia SaburYoung Alia Sabur alerted her parents to her talents at an early age, reading when she was only eight months old. Alia started out elementary school like any normal student, but teachers soon realized she would be better off in college and she went straight from 4th grade into a degree program at Stony Brook University when she was just 10 years old. She graduated summa cum laude from there with a BS in applied mathematics and moved onto Drexel, where she completed her PhD in materials science engineering. She holds the Guinness record for being the youngest full university professor, appointed to the faculty at Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea when she was 18 years old. Sabur is a standout researcher and thinker in her field, winning awards from NASA, the Department of Defense, GAANN and the NSF, as well as a gifted musician who has performed with world-class performers at Julliard.
  4. Adragon De MelloDe Mello’s story is sadder one among all of these standout students. Pushed by his father to excel, De Mello was always a bright child and completed his bachelor’s degree in computational mathematics at the University of California, Santa Cruz at only 11 years old. His father saw him earning a PhD, teaching and winning a Nobel Prize all before he turned 18. Yet this pressure proved to be too much, both for De Mello and his parent’s relationship. They separated and De Mello ended up in foster care for a short time before eventually going to live with his mother. Despite having already completed a college degree, De Mello longed for a normal life and enrolled in middle school and high school. Today, De Mello is working at Home Depot and planning a career as a commercial estimator for a painting company — something he’s fine with, as he says those academic dreams were his father’s, not his own.
  5. Gregory SmithThere was never a doubt that this young man would turn out to be a brainiac. At 14 months he was already reciting books, and at 18 months was completing math problems. He finished his elementary school education in only a year, high school in two and enrolled at Randolph-Macon College at the age of ten. Smith graduated with honors at age 13 and is now working towards his PhD in mathematics, the first of several degrees he plans to obtain. Smith isn’t just a standout in school, however, as he engages in activist and aid work in East Timor, Sao Paulo, Rwanda and Kenya. It isn’t just a pet project — Smith has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize four times, the first when he was just 12 years old.
  6. Colin CarlsonColin Carlson was a bright child from the get-go, reading books on his own at age 2 and already taking college level classes at UConn when he was a mere 9 years old. He officially enrolled at the university at age 11, after graduating from Stanford University Online High School. Today, Carlson is 13 years old and still working towards his degree at UConn, pursuing a degree in Biology with a focus in natural ecosystems. You may have heard of Colin through recent news items, as he is suing the university for not allowing him to take a course which requires fieldwork in South Africa (his mother would accompany him) — a clear case of age discrimination, he claims.
  7. Akrit JaswalJaswal’s nickname is the “modern-day Doogie Howser,” and for good reason. This precocious young man was admitted to college at only 11 years old. Yet even before he was a college student, he practiced medicine. Jaswal performed his first surgery at the age of seven, helping out an impoverished family whose daughter needed a simple surgical procedure to separate her fingers. Today, Jaswal is working towards degrees in botany, chemistry and zoology at Punjab University, and is hoping to one day attend Harvard to study medicine.
  8. Kathleen HoltzIf you aren’t familiar with this young woman’s story, you likely soon will be, as it is being made into a TV series starring Hillary Duff. Kathleen was a bright student early on and started college at California State, LA at age ten. She graduated in four years magna cum laude with a degree in philosophy and began law school at the UCLA School of Law at age 15. In 2007, she became the state of California’s (and perhaps the nation’s) youngest lawyer, passing the bar and completing her legal training at age 18. Today, Holtz works as a business litigation attorney with the Troy Guild in LA, trying and winning several cases even as a rookie lawyer.
  9. Sho YanoSho Yano is currently thought to have one of the highest IQs in the world, measured at an impressive 200. Homeschooled from an early age, Yano was ready to enter college by age 8, dominating his SATs with a score of 1,500 (out of a possible 1,600). By age nine, Yano was taking university level courses at Loyola University Chicago in topics like writing, biology, math and chemistry and completing research on a wide range of topics. By 12 he had graduated and was on to the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Chicago to work on his MD and PhD in molecular genetics and cell biology. At age 18, Yano had completed his PhD and today is working to finish up his MD.
  10. Tathagat Avatar TulsiToday Tulsi works as a physicist but his reputation for being a child prodigy hasn’t been forgotten. He completed high school at age 9, earned his BS at 10 and a MS at 12 from Patna Science College. He didn’t stop there, however, completing his PhD at the Indian Institute of Science at age 21– and age when most students haven’t even finished their bachelor’s — making him the youngest student in India to hold a doctorate. After graduation, Tulsi has gone on to teach at IIT Bombay and is currently working on research related to quantum search algorithms.

This is a cross-post from content partners at accreditedonlinecolleges.com; image attribution flickr user julien-haler

  • Touchet

    Some of these kids were too young to get a degree. I think it was fantastic that they were afforded the opportunity to learn so much though! But from a logistic point of view, WHO is going to hire a 13 or 11 year old? Its against the law. So they will have to wait for 5 to 7 years to even be considered for most jobs. Even then, for medical related jobs, its 21, especially those that require you to work with dangerous equipment. NO place is going to hire someone (save for educational) that has a degree that’s 7 years old and no work experience. So many of them will have to obtain a second degree and hold a job here and there to even be considered hire-able at most places.

    • Bulknowtq

      If you’re a child prodigy, you’re not going to stop at a Bachelors and go into the workforce. Most of them studied into their early 20’s, earning Masters and PHD’s. They would be extremely sought after at that point. Also, they would have made an income in their teenage years by giving interviews and doing lectures. It would make no sense for them to stop studying after they attain a Bachelors.

    • gdawg

      They finished early tho so when They get a job they will be Ready within those years

    • Ken

      I TOTALLY disagree Touchet, with your logistic POV.Since you can’t stop a powerful rocket from soaring through the skies, why keep these kids back just because it’s illegal for them to enter the workforce.

    • Roy McDowell

      Here is the thing about those laws, in most cases there are exceptions or other ways to get around those laws. A waiver either from the parents or the court system, is usually enough. Then you have to consider, a large number of the companies have government contracts and because of that allow them to get around the laws.

      Lastly you should also look at the number of people that are listed from other countries…Other countries other laws.

    • Krisr101

      I agree. If you notice, Sho Yano finished his PhD and is now working on his MD. I went to college with a boy who was 12 when he started our program in Chemistry. He graduated before me! His dream was to go to medical school. But, at 15, no medical school would accept him even though he had a 4.0 and very high scores on his MCATs. He ended up going for the PhD.

  • Zyzz

    None of these “prodigies” even lift.

    • juiciusceasar

      aware m8

    • ayeeetj

      Doesn’t matter , why hate?

    • ProdiOG

      I don’t know about that, Tathagat Avatar Tulsi can bench a lot.

  • Vladimir

    How can you people be so limited in thinking to criticize them for “not lifting”, or being “unable to join the workforce”. These prodigies have the mental capacity of a fusion reactor. They will come with brilliant ideas and innovate just by merely existing and doing what they are passionate about.

    • miles1242

      come on, Vlad, the people talking about “not lifting” are obviously joking.

  • Black Knowledge

    20 Black Child Prodigies Mainstream Media Doesn’t Talk About:So did you:(
    http://atlantablackstar.com/2013/09/24/15-black-child-proteges-mainstream-media-doesnt-talk/

    Your selections was bias towards African American or Africans. Not even one. Wow!!

    So, I’ll educate you, Here are just a few. African Americans or People of dark skin produce genius as well.

    Stephen R. Stafford II

    While
    most of his peers slog through seventh grade, Stephen Stafford, 13, earns
    credits toward his pre-med, computer science and mathematics degrees at
    Morehouse College in Atlanta. The wide-smiling, fast-talking, classical
    piano-playing Lithonia, Ga., resident has been labeled a “prodigy” (a term he
    doesn’t really like).

    Carson Huey-You

    The 11-year-old is the youngest student ever to attend
    Texas Christian University. Carson, who plans to become a quantum
    physicist, is taking calculus, physics, history and religion in his first
    semester. Given that he was devouring chapter books by age 2 and attending high
    school by age 5, the boy genius might reach his goal of attaining a doctorate
    degree before age 20.

    source:
    huffingtonpost.com

    The Imafidons Family

    The Imafidons are Britain’s smartest family and have become
    international models of academic achievement.

    Dr. Chris Imafidon and Ann Imafidon came from Edo State,
    Nigeria, to London over 30 years ago and their children have broken national
    records in education.

    Anne-Marie, 23, the eldest child, is multi-lingual. She speaks
    six languages and graduated from college at age 10. At 13, she was the youngest
    person to pass the U.K.’s A-level computing exam. She went on to attend John
    Hopkins University in Baltimore and received her masters degree from Oxford
    University, all before she turned 20 years old.

    In
    2009, fraternal twins Peter and Paula made headlines for becoming
    youngest students to enter secondary school at age 6. Their older sister,
    Christina, was 11 when she was accepted to study at any undergraduate
    institution in Britain.

    Zora Ball

    At 7 years old, Zora Ball has become the youngest person to
    create a mobile video game. The Philadelphia native developed the game
    using programming language Bootstrap, usually taught to students between the
    ages of 12 and 16 to help them learn concepts of algebra through video game
    development.

    source:
    atlantablackstar.com

    • Lauren

      This is not biased. It is simply the ten youngest child prodigies. And they’re happened not to be any African Americans in the top ten. They would have to falsify information to appease the “race card” that you just played.Ridiculous. They didn’t say the smartest young prodigies. They said the TOP 10 youngest child prodigies. And that happens to be a matter of FACT, not OPINION. So, please, next time make sure what you are about to say actually makes sense and holds merit before you decide to play the race card, which is used entirely too much as of late.

      • Bob

        If you read his list, there was the mention of Anne Marie, graduating from college at the age of 10, which should put her in the top 10 for this article.
        Or Carson, who started university at 11. Black knowledge’s criticisms have merit and do make sense. Read someone’s comments fully before accusing them of playing the race card.

    • ol

      sorry monkeys don’t go to college

    • Navs

      Who cares, they used to be slaves! They should just go back to their country of origin! Not everything is about race!

    • amp1970

      The selections were not rated they were his choice there are smart people from every race

  • Anne

    Suddenly, I’m not so proud about being one of the youngest people in my college.

    • lamont

      How old r u

    • ReignForrest

      Native talent — including intelligence — is hardly something to be proud of. (“I’m SO proud of my opposable thumbs!” Etc.)
      Hard work — now that’s something to crow about.

  • ayeetj

    Lol I’m 12 and still in middle school, and they graduated from highschool @ age 4… Smh they blessed with that edgamaction

  • d

    @blackknowledge thats cuz their not

  • ekej

    @blackknowledge cuz their not!! lol…

  • Miguel Garcia

    This is not a matter of being “smarter”, and I want everyone to acknowledge that. These kids aren’t gifted, they were simply exposed to so many more opportunities than the average child through their parents. To think of them as being extraordinary would be unfair, its not an evolutionary feat, It’s just another case of “My daddy is richer than yours”. Remember Adragan de Mello?, that’s what this is. Some rich helicopter parent went above and beyond to create a child genius and those kids didn’t mind it. Their parents probably made a huge investment in tutoring and pulled strings to have them admitted to such prestigious educational institutions. To be absolutely honest, Tyrone from Chi-town, Shaniqua from Detroit, Jose from Stockton, all of them, any kid could have accomplished the same things. So remember, wealthy Caucasian and foreign born children(typically Asian or Middle Eastern) are already more advantaged than any other American kids. So again, It’s not a matter of being “smarter”, more than anything, it’s a matter of income inequality. And by the way. I tip my hat to Adragan, he’s a genius by the worlds standards but still values the simple things in life. Cheers.

    • Rich

      Sorry, Miguel, but you are wrong. They are gifted and their IQs are scientific proof of that. You can spend all the time and money in the world on a lower IQ child, but they will not achieve the same results. IQ measures a person’s ability to learn….the higher the IQ the higher their ability. No different than world class gifted athletes.

    • amp1970

      It is not true. these kid’s are extremely smart money can help to a degree . But all these kids are on full ride scholarships when they graduate. Now if your done feeling sorry for yourself have a nice day

      • Miguel Garcia

        That’s right, full-ride scholarships they don’t really need, because Daddy’s bank account is deep enough for whatever they might need. Perhaps you’re on of those aforementioned helicopter parents. That’s a shame, you probably feel really offended by this, because you have a son or daughter who you’ve nurtured into some wondrous fraud. Maybe they hate you for it(i’ve had some friends like that). That’s fine with me though, your life is none of my concern.

        Since you mentioned me feeling sorry for myself, making personal attacks,I’ll go ahead and inform you. I’m a senior at one of the leading high schools in the state of Iowa, the state with the highest graduation rate in all the nation, in Iowa City, a UNESCO city of literature. Not that the state itself matters. I’m a straight A student, taking two AP courses atm(i could take more, but athletics get in the way of things), and am well on my way to a full-ride to Iowa State. I’m hoping to go into PR or advertising, whichever, I’ll find out after my internship. I carry a 3.8 GPA at all times, I’m an NHS member, and I do a lot of community service work.

        The last thing I would possibly do is pity myself. I’ve got everything going pretty well for me, thank you very much. And a nice day to you too good sir.

  • ege

    lol i learned to read at age of 6. But they learned at 8 months old which i couldnt even speak lmao

  • Whatthe?

    So they’re all still in school. Where’s the story about the young kid who went to school, killed it and then went off to make billions of dollars? They all sound like normal kids to me…still in school or working at the local Home Depot.

  • JustaRandomGirl

    Is it weird I’m around 10 and I take Uni courses on Itunes U?