Most of us like to live by the motto "Ps make degrees". As long as we see any mark that is over the number 50 we are happy. Some of us choose to not even go that far and instead decide that university is just not for us. Maybe you are currently sitting there confused about whether or not you should try getting a degree. Maybe you are already studying and need some motivation to keep pushing forward. If that is the case then keep reading because here are five people who were done and dusted with their degree at a much younger age than most of us now reading this. Maybe their success can give you that push you need.
1. Erik Demaine
Hailing from Nova Scotia in Canada Erik Demaine was only seven when he left school. His father decided to take him out of the formal education system so they could instead spend their days travelling around North America. So, Demaine decided to teach himself. From the age of nine Demaine had an interest in computers and through his study of them became more involved and developed in the area of math. Despite having not completed school and therefore not having any previous academic records or results, he was eventually accepted into Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There Demaine studied and completed his Bachelor’s degree when he was only 14 years old. Demaine then went on to complete his PhD at the University of Waterloo by the time he was just 20. During those studies he focused on the topic of computational origami. Demaine continued his streak of academic excellence by becoming the youngest professor at MIT in 2001 when he was still just 20 years old. In 2003 he was awarded the ’genius award’ which is better known as the MacArthur Fellowship.
2. Michael Kearney
Not only did Michael Kearney break the expectations of someone his age he also showed that having a disability should never hold you back. Despite being diagnosed with ADHD, not studying and only being four years old Kearney managed to smash the John Hopkins multiple-choice diagnostic test getting a perfect score. By the age of six Kearney had both graduated from high school and was enrolled at the Santa Rosa Junior College. There he completed his Associate’s degree in geology when he was only eight. He had completed his Bachelor’s degree in anthropology by the time he was ten at the University of South Alabama. This achievement landed him a spot in the Guinness World Records. Kearney has since continued with his academic career by also completing a Master’s degree in biochemistry and then going on to teach classes at Vanderbilt University. Kearney has now also completed his second Master’s degree in computer science. Kearney also holds the title for the world’s youngest postgraduate as well as several other records. It seems smarts run in the family with his younger sister Maeghan also being a child prodigy.
3. Ruth Lawrence
Home-schooled by her father from the age of five this girl’s academic achievements first began when she was just nine years old. It was around this time she managed to achieve an O-level in mathematics and an A at the A-level of pure mathematics. This set a new age record at the time though it has since been surpassed. When she was just 17 years old Ruth Lawrence had accomplished more than what most people her age normally would. Lawrence had managed to get herself three different degrees from Oxford University after she came first out of the entire 530 people who sat the entry exam. It all began in 1985 when Lawrence was only 13 and graduated from the University. She had just completed a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and managed to complete it in just two years instead of the normal three. One year later at the age of 14 Lawrence had already completed her second degree. This was a Bachelor’s in Physics. Third time round in 1989 at the age of 17 Lawrence had managed to complete her PhD in Mathematics. Throughout this entire time her father attended her lectures with her. From there she went off to Harvard University to spend time as a junior fellow. She then began working at the University of Michigan as an associate professor. Her next move saw her travel all the way to Israel where she took up the position of associate professor again at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
4. Gregory Smith
It was clear from an extremely young age that Gregory Smith was going to be one smart little cookie. When he was only 14 months old Smith could recite books out loud. At only 18 months old the genius was able to complete math problems. By the time he hit the age of ten Smith had completed elementary school, graduated from high school and enrolled at Randolph-Macon College. Graduating his degree with honors when he hit 13, the brainiac then went on to complete his PhD in mathematics. Not only is he academically inclined, Smith has also been involved in numerous activist and aid projects. These have seen him travel to countries including East Timor, Sao Paulo, Rwanda and Kenya. Smith is now also a motivational speaker. He is recognised all around the world as an advocate for peace and children’s rights believing they are a country’s greatest resource though they are normally overlooked by most powerful and influential figures. He has also had the chance to meet with numerous political figures and religious leaders including former President Bill Clinton and South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu. For all of his work Smith has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times. To top it all off the very first time he received a nomination for the award was when he was only 12 years old.
5. Sho Yano
This American physician was nothing short of a child prodigy. As a kid Sho Yano was reportedly reading by the time he was just two. He could apparently write by the time he turned three years old, play classical music by four and compose his own pieces when he was only five. Yano breezed into college when he was just nine years old after he managed to score and amazing 1,500 out of 1,600 on his SATs. He then graduated from Chicago’s Loyola University at the age of 12 with summa cum laude which means with the highest honour. At the age of 18 he completed his PhD in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago. To top it all off when he hit 21, Yano became the youngest person to get their MD from the University of Chicago. All of his academic successes and his reported IQ of 200 have managed to earn him the nickname “real-life Doogie Howser.”
Not all of us are born as geniuses. Just because you are not a whizz kid with brainpower far superior to your age does not mean university or any other type of academic work isn’t for you. We will always find someone who is doing better at something than us. We just need to always try our hardest and remember we are doing the best we can.