How did all those 11,12 & 13 year old geniuses going to college pan out in the real world?

Over the years I’ve seen the odd story every so often about some 11 to 13 year old kid heading off the college or graduating from college when they are 15 or 16. In reading their stories it seems they are very bright kids that are (typically) the product of parents very focused on academic achievement who pushing them as fast as they will go.

What happened to these kids? How did they pan out over time in the real world?

I’ve wondered myself. I had a 14-year-old classmate in college who would have graduated both high school and college by 16. I didn’t keep up with her for reasons that I’ve told before, but would probably hijack this thread.

The classic case of William James Sidis.

It must be very hard for them socially. I skipped a grade and graduated early, so I started my first semester in College when I was 15. People were polite to me, but no one wanted anything to do with me really. I can’t blame them looking back.

As I said, people were nice to me, but they didn’t want to hang out with you or anythign like that. I imagine it’d be a bit different for the very younger ones, as there must be a “celebrity” type feeling to very young kids in college.

Theodore “Ted” Kacynski (AKA the “Unibomber”) went to Harvard at age 16 (mathematics genius).
He excelled, but became a social misfit (he spent several years in mental hospitals). He finally moved to rural Montana, where he spent his days mailing bombs to people.
Not a good career path!

Didn’t Doogie Howser grow up into Dr. Horrible?

Or worse, Barney Stimson…

Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth After 35 Years.

The summary seems to be that many of them did well at many things.

I couldn’t find mention of relative rates of success or mental illness vs. ‘normies’.

Or worse, “Neil Patrick Harris.”

page 10 seems to imply that these people went to high school and college on a normal timetable for the most part…

Why is it that whenever someone asks a question like this, someone else feels it necessary to bring up William Sidis (or even the Unabomber), as though they are typical examples of child prodigies? The answer is that prodigies typically do pretty well. Yes, a few of them burn out or screw up or become criminals, but less of them than for an equivalent group of people of average intelligence. To refute the opposite claim, this doesn’t mean that it’s necessary to be a prodigy to be the top of your profession in some difficult academic field. Most top people in every academic field went through their education at the normal pace. Why do people feel that all prodigies must either all turn out to be utter geniuses or all turn out to be hopelessly screwed up? In fact, many turn out to do brilliantly well, most turn out to do very well if not really quite at the top of their field, some turn out to do no better than average, and a few end up rather messed up.

In any area like this you are going to get some sort of bell curve, even if it looks like a bell that’s been run over by an Abrams tank.

From my perception, advancing the kids grade-wise is an ego achievement for the parents, not a real benefit to the child. If the child is that bright they should probably be given the opportunity to advance their intellect outside of their school age grade.

These days, sending a 15 or 16 year old off to college is probably not a wise idea. There are too many social elements involved. They would be better off getting personal tutoring and staying in the family environment while associated with people their own age. This is particularly true of boys.

Parents need to realize that education isn’t a race, it’s a process. So what if your kid can read at 3 and gets into kindergarten at 4? Have your kid graduate from high school at 16 and then deal with the challenge of what to do with him. Do you want him living in the dorm with a bunch of 18-20 year olds?

Back to the OP, I too would like to see some empirical studies.

Just from an opinion point of view I think advancing these kids alot does them a big disservice.

There is a big difference between being socially advanced and academically advanced. If they are really smart, find more/more in depth stuff for them to do at about the same level.

As some said, its not a race.

Wouldn’t you have to have skipped about three grades to start at fifteen?, Or maybe two depending on where your birthday falls. I skipped one grade and was seventeen until March of my freshman year.

Asimov started college when he was 14 or 15 (if I’m recalling his autobiography correctly, it’s very likely that he was younger than his legal birthday would indicate - his parents exagerated his age so he could start school earlier), and graduated from college at 19 - which is even more impressive when you consider that he was also working at his parents’ candy store throughout that period. He got a PhD when he was 28, but that delay was due to the fact that he took 5 or 6 years off to do defense work during the war, and to serve in the Army post-war. He panned out pretty well.

Skipped one year and graduated a year early equals two years.

Advancing them might cause social problems, but won’t holding them back cause other problems? A kid like that should be bored out of his mind in normal school classes.

I wonder. I did grade 1 and grade 2 in one year, which meant that I graduated from grade 13* a year earlier than most other kids, which meant that I was one of two 18-year-olds in my first-year university class. The other one was a hot Japanese girl, who I totally failed to impress… sigh I bring this up because even with only one year of skipping, I was very immature socially when I got to university. I would look at the Married Students’ Apartments and think that that was another world; when I arrived at university, I was still in the age-stratified mindset of high school and even public school.

I changed a LOT in first year.

[sub]*In Ontario at the time, there was an optional fifth year of high school, grade 13, intended for students going on to university. A lot of people graduated after grade 12, never saw the interior of a university, got well-paying jobs at GM, and were married and had houses before they were 25. Try doing that now, with GM a shadow of its former self…)[/sub]

I just remembered I ran across one of these wunderkids in high school. 3 to 5 years ahead of his time.

Even then, as an extremely understanding ubber nerd/outcast myself I remember thinking this just isnt right or fair to him. He appeared fricking miserable.

He clung to both me and his teddy bear with grim determination on a state science fair trip.

I just remembered I’ve run across 2 others of these wonder kids, for a total of 3 of em.

None of them seemed socially very happy or well adjusted.

I think they all would have been better off taking their second grade quantum physics classes some where then going out and playing “who can fart the loudest?” with their same aged classemates.