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.
- Michael Kearney. This 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.
- Moshe Kai Cavalin. A 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.
- Alia Sabur. Young 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.
- Adragon De Mello. De 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.
- Gregory Smith. There 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.
- Colin Carlson. Colin 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.
- Akrit Jaswal. Jaswal’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.
- Kathleen Holtz. If 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.
- Sho Yano. Sho 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.
- Tathagat Avatar Tulsi. Today 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