How would you feel if you had a child who graduated university at the age of 9? Would you still be satisfied if he graduated at the age of 10?
The parents of a nine-year-old child prodigy have pulled him out of university in the Netherlands, citing concerns with a schedule that is not moving fast enough for him to graduate before he turns 10.
Laurent Simons, of Belgium, won international acclaim last month with his push to finish a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Eindhoven’s University of Technology. However, his parents say the school is dragging its heels on his final exams, which have been pushed to next year. The delay jeopardizes the family’s goal of Laurent becoming the youngest person ever to graduate from university.
“Until last week everything was fine,” Laurent’s father, Alexander Simons, told Reuters on Tuesday. “Now suddenly they see a delay of six months.”
The school informed the Simons on Monday that Laurent will not be able to graduate until mid-2020, due to an unfeasible number of exams that he still has to finish.
“Laurent is an exceptionally gifted boy who is going through his studies at an unprecedented pace,” the university said in a statement. The school says it offered the family a revised timeline to complete Laurent’s studies, but they immediately rejected the offer and ended his studies.
The university also recommended the boy slow down in order to develop “insight, creativity and critical analysis.”
The school says the modified timeline was still a “phenomenally quick scheme in which he would end his education mid-2020.”
Laurent is due to turn 10 on Dec. 26, which means he would be nearly 10-and-a-half by the time he graduates.
With a reported IQ of 145, Laurent has blitzed through the school system in his nearly 10 years of life. He started school at age four, finished high school by age eight and had hoped to earn his three-year bachelor’s degree in just 10 months.
American Michael Kearney holds the current record for being the youngest person to obtain a post-secondary degree, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. That boy got his degree in June 1994 at the age of 10 years and four months.
Laurent’s father says his graduation date wasn’t an issue in the past, but it became one recently when the family started discussing plans for Laurent to study abroad.
“It’s very peculiar that this all comes right at the time when we were finalizing our plans for Laurent’s PhD at a different university,” Simons told Reuters.
He added that many universities have “a lot of interest” in his son.
“There is so much demand for Laurent, and he is a unique project which everybody wants to be a part of,” Simons said.
Alexander Simons claims the university criticized him for courting media coverage for his son.
“We were told that with the media attention we put too much pressure on our child, and that if we continued, a psychiatric examination would have to be made,” Simons told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.
“When one door closes, others open!” read Laurent’s official Instagram page on Tuesday. The post shows Laurent sitting on a darkened TV news set. “Thank you world thank you politicians, thank you other universities 4 having my back!” the post said.
Another post from late November shows Laurent preparing for an on-camera segment.
“I will teach you high end science in 1 season, What school/university teaches you in 6 years!” the post says. “We will go through everything at the speed of light. Now, just find a production company…”
—With files from Reuters