Would you send your super smart 12 year old to Berkeley?

Yesterday, it was brought to my attention by a friend who is presently attending Berkeley that there is a 12 year old boy on campus, working on his degree. A little Googling popped up this article about the boy, which goes on to explain that his 14 year old sister already graduated from Berkeley and is going to optometry school.

I ended up posting this article to my Facebook and almost immediately a long (115 comment) debate happened. There were two distinct groups in this debate-- one group (which was entirely composed of self-proclaimed geniuses— literally) said that the boy would have no friends in his regular grade level and couldn’t relate to those kids anyway, so he was better off going to college and advancing academically. The other group argued that while this child might academically be a genius, the milestones of socialization need to be considered here.

So, I ask you, Straight Dope: would you send your 12 year old to Berkeley? We’ve talked about skipping grades before, but this is sort of that debate. . . just on steroids. :smiley:

Sure, put the kid in whatever classes he’s interested in and ready for. But there’s got to be life outside of school for all kids, including the brilliant ones.

I am currently re-experiencing the “milestones of socialization” of middle-school through my own children.

He ain’t missing much.

I’m okay with giving really bright kids the academic opportunities that they need but the line in the article that gives me pause is the 18 hour days. I would be working on some balance in his life. The same way that other parents require their kids to do homework and go to school, these kids need to be required to spend some of their time doing other things.

Moonlitherial, from the article, it sounds like the one “kid thing” he was doing (judo) had to be stopped because it was interfering with his rigorous academic schedule. You’ve got to wonder if this kid ever actually sees any other 12 year olds.

My friend who alerted me to this whole thing works in the library at Berkeley. Being finals week, she said, the library is packed with tables of friends, studying and carrying on in that way we all did during finals week (way too much coffee + studying hard = inevitable silliness and bonding). She said yesterday that this kid was the only person she could see sitting alone at a table, tucked away into a corner by himself with a pile of books. Granted, he may vastly prefer this and who am I to knock that? But she did say her initial response was to go up and hug him, because he looked so lonely-- especially juxtaposed to the other happy groups of students.

This. Let the kid take a half-load of classes and let him enjoy being a kid.

I would not unless I (or my wife) was willing and able to accompany him. Some years ago, a young actress from Seattle that my son knew was cast in a B’way show and her mother spent the six months with her in a NY apartment. I think she was about 14 at the time. Colleges no longer act in loco parentis and you just don’t leave an 11 year old without parental guidance. When I left my 17 1/2 year old daughter at college and drove off it was with some misgiving and she looked awfully lonely waving us goodbye, although it worked out fine. But an 11 year old? Never.

In the case of the child in the OP, it does say that the father quit his job to shuttle the kids back and forth between community colleges, but it doesn’t say whether he attended classes with them.

Hari-I’d like to see a cite for colleges no longer having loco responsibility.

Especially since this 12 year old doesn’t have his parents with him— dad goes to school in Orange County (many hours south of Berkeley) and mom is a professor at UC San Francisco (so I doubt she’s sitting there with him for 18 hours a day). Not to mention, who’d be with his 14 year old sister at her graduate school?

That’s what I think. Even if he does half-loads, he’d still be graduating a lot younger than the average person. And there should be some clubs or other activities on or off campus that he could do.

Stanford maybe, but Cal? No way.

I don’t understand how that even happened. I understand that a 12 year old could be prepared to understand and participate in a college-level class. But pre-requisites exist for everyone else, why not him?
Am I to assume that he completed all the requirements for his High School Diploma? 4 years of Social Sciences, 4 years of English, some number of years of Science and Math? Did he start High School at the age of 8? That doesn’t make sense either.
Or did he skip all that? That seems rather unfair.

sach-He did his prereqs at CC.

He certainly would have had to take the GED or some equivalent to show that he had learned the material. It’s not a time/effort requirement, it’s a knowledge one.

I’ve put a lot of thought into this. I would allow Celtling to take college classes, but not alone. I wouldn’t want a 12 year old to be left alone with college age kids. There’s just too much potential for poor social choices, or even manipulation.

I would also make sure she had extracurricular activities with kids her own age; both for physical exercise and for socialization. A 12-year-old can’t keep up in any meaningful way with college sports activities. She loves everything from soccer to ballet to chess, so it wouldn’t be hard to make sure she spends a few hours a week with other kids, and has a chance to make friends she could spend time with on weekends. Intellectual pursuit is fun for her, as it is for me, but it’s important to push ourselves out of that comfy little envelope and interact on other levels.

This boy’s parents are neglecting 90% of their job, IMHO. I mean, seriously, 12 year olds need a hug soemtimes. Preferably at least once per day.

For me it would be a last resort, and only if they really, really wanted it. I’d look into other stuff first. Maybe we could travel the world as a family? They could attend local schools, learning the language and playing with peers in an exciting, new situation. Lots of learning!

If they definitely wanted to go to university, and knowing the kid I would judge them ready in enough of the possible ways, then yes, they can go. I think for some children, there comes a point when there really is no other option. I would encourage lots of other activities outside university. I realise it might not be their thing to play football with their peers. But there must be something that we can come up with that means interaction with non-twenty year-olds?

A twelve year-old lives with his mummy and/or papa though, no exceptions. So we’ll have to figure that one out too.

Yeah, I wasn’t even considering the possibility of sending a twelve year old to live on their own. I don’t think that’s legal most places. It’d have to be a college within commuting distance.

Perhaps there is another relative (not mentioned) or family friend who is taking care of him. I can’t imagine him living in the regular dorms… He’s have to live in one of the apartment-style ones, no? Perhaps with the RA?

His mother teaches at UC San Fran, so I’m sure he lives with his family and is just dropped off at school each day.

Thanks! :slight_smile: From the previous comment I thought it meant that he had to be in the dorms, but now I see the comment meant that no one was with him during the day (while he takes his classes).

I’m not sure why he’d need company then. It would be distracting.

I still don’t understand how he can take 18 hour days. I mean, I got semesters with 18, 19, even (I think) 20-21 credits, and none of them were so harsh. There was free time in between those.

Will he also attend during the winter and summer breaks?