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Grade Skipped and Successful
So many times, only the negative examples of grade acceleration are
remembered. For those who prefer a more positive outlook, here's a list of
individuals who skipped one or more grades, and are successful in their
fields... from professionals athletes to scientists to presidents to actors and actresses to Nobel Prize winners,
and many, many more. There are far more
positive examples than negative ones!
But there is no discernable pattern... grade skips occur in the U.S. and
elsewhere, in early and late grades, in girls and boys. The only common
factor is that all these individuals are both grade skipped and
Some of our most beloved fictional
characters in literature and television, past and present, have also skipped grades! Jump below to
Fictional Grade Skipped
For more success stories, read Cradles
of Eminence: Childhoods of More Than 700 Famous Men and Women by Victor
Goertzel, Mildred Goertzel, Ted Goertzel, and Ariel Hansen
The 1964 provocative classic by Victor and Mildred Goertzel is printed here in
its entirely, plus updated for the 21st Century. Do prominent individuals share
common childhood experiences? What factors in childhood contribute to a prolific
adulthood? Among the fascinating similarities of these eminent personalities are
|grew up in homes with a strong love of learning; |
opinionated, pushy parents; |
|grew up feeling different from others.|
of Child Prodigies.
Alda, actor, screenwriter and producer
- Alda started college at 16, after being partially
homeschooled... in his autobiography
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned
Alder, the first woman to deliver a technical presentation at the famed
DefCon hacker conference, best
known for tracing spoofed distributed denial of service attacks
- "I skipped three grades and was taking college
classes at 12, graduated high school at fourteen and college at eighteen,"
she said. "My parents very much encouraged my sister, brother and me to be
Anderson, Oxford student
- overcame HUGE childhood hardships, completed 3 years of high school in 2
years time, graduating at 16 - a Canadian to be watched
Andrus, founder of the AARP and the first female Principal of a California
- graduated from college at the age of 19
Angier, Pulitzer prize-winning science writer
- Skipped 2 grades...
- Neil Armstrong, astronaut, first man to walk on the Moon
- Skipped mid-year from second to third grade. As as a 2nd grader, he was
reading at a 5th grade level, so they moved him to third!
Athey, First woman to win the Bates Medal in Economics
- Started Duke at 16, triple major, sorority treasurer, pres of field hockey
team, Stanford Ph.D. at 24... and mom of 3!
- Read more in
By Myself and Then Some
Habeeb Bacchus, physician and professor
- 16-year-old freshman at Howard University, graduated from Howard in two
years with a bachelor's degree in zoology. He began graduate studies at
George Washington in October 1947 and, by the following June, had a master's
in zoology. He started on his doctorate in 1948 and, in 18 months, received a
PhD in physiology. Only 21 at the time, Dr. Bacchus was the youngest person
awarded a doctorate since GWU first granted the degree in 1888...
- 2 time Nobel Laureate in Physics (multiple skips)
L. Bates, Chairman of the Board, Chief Scientist, Co-Founder,
Zoesis digital arts studio
- the very first person to be radically accelerated by Julian Stanley.
In 1969 as thirteen-year-old eight-grader, he got admitted to John
Jack Baumol, Economist, Nobel Prize winner
- Born in the Bronx in 1922, the son of Eastern European immigrants. He
graduated college at age 20. He was initially denied entry to the doctoral
studies at the London School of Economics and was instead admitted to the
Master's program. After witnessing his debating skills at Lord Lionel
Robbins' seminars, he was within weeks switched to the doctoral program and
also admitted to the faculty as an Assistant Lecturer. Nobel Prize winner
for Baumol's cost disease hypothesis
Berrien, World class wire sculptor
- By kindergarten, Elizabeth was an avid reader. Her scores for spatial
relationships and math were "off the scale;" later she skipped fourth
Berezin, Physicist, computer engineer and entrepreneur
- As a 16-year-old freshman at Hunter College in Manhattan, she studied
economics, planning to become a bookkeeper. During World War II,
opportunities for women dramatically expanded on the home front, and a high
school teacher offered her a job at a physics company for which he
Ms. Berezin transferred to New York University, worked by day and took
classes by night, and in 1945 received a bachelor’s degree in physics. One
year later, she was awarded a fellowship by the Atomic Energy Commission,
enabling her to study for a doctorate. Her focus was on cosmic rays.
Birx, White House coronavirus coordinator
- Birx graduated from high school at 16, got married and graduated from
college at 20, finished medical school at 23 and had her daughters shortly
- Sidney Blumenthal, journalist and
- graduated from high school at 16, in
The Clinton Wars
D. Boyer, chemist
- Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 1997 (with John E. Walker) for for their
elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine
Boynton, Plaintiff in Landmark Civil Rights Case
- He was a Black man who wanted to sit in the white section of a bus
terminal restaurant. The case reached the Supreme Court.
- "Mr. Boynton grew up in Selma and graduated from R.B. Hudson High School
there when he was just 14. Four years later he earned an undergraduate
degree at Fisk University in Nashville. He was at Howard University Law
School in Washington when he made the fateful bus ride home to Alabama in
1958..." New York Times obituary
- General Omar Bradley
- Finished high school at 16...
Broder, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
- "Born Sept. 11, 1929, in Chicago Heights, Ill., where his father was a
dentist, David Salzer Broder entered the University of Chicago at 15 and
received bachelor's and master's degrees there."
Brown, Prime Minister of Great Britain
- Entered University of Edinburgh at 16 (15 in some sources)
Brown, Attorney, President of the Stanford University Board of Trustees
- Skipped three grades...
L. Bryan, psychologist; professor, Colombia University School of Library
- A bright student who excelled in school, Alice skipped two grades and
entered high school in 1914, at the age of 12. While maintaining top grades
she served as secretary of her class and actively participated in the high
school debating team and in the drama club as well as doing volunteer work
for the Red Cross...
brilliant investor, world's first or second richest man, CEO of Berkshire
- Skipped once and graduated at 17. Read more in
Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist
- Skipped once, as she describes it she clearly needed another skip but was
denied it - "I lost interest in school and never regained it." Read
Lessons in Becoming Myself
- Brett Butler, actress and author
- in Knee
Deep in Paradise
Farrell Camerer, American behavioral economist and a professor at the
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
- Over the ten years, he went through to a Ph.D. degree and an assistant
professorship before his twenty-second birthday. Yet despite his
academic speed he found plenty of time for extracurricular activities:
varsity wrestling and the television academic quiz team in high school,
varsity golf in college, much writing for the college newspaper, and
tutoring of several other mathematics prodigies... (details from
Academic Precocity: Aspects of its Development, Stanley and Benbow,
- Drew Carey, actor
- graduated a year early from James Ford Rhodes High School
L. Carter judge of the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of
- Earlier, argued or co-argued 23 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, for
the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, winning 22. Carter was a
remarkable student, graduating from high school at sixteen having skipped
Chien, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy
- Chi-Bin became the youngest recipient of a baccalaureate in JHU's l05-year
history. He took his B.A. in physics with the following honors and
awards: general and departmental honors, Donald E. Kerr Memorial Award for
the outstanding bachelor's degree recipient in physics from Johns Hopkins,
SMPY award for being the youngest graduate in JHU's history, Churchill
Scholarship to study biophysics for a year at Cambridge University, and
National Science Foundation three-year fellowship with which to work toward
a Ph.D. degree at the California Institute of Technology... (details from
Academic Precocity: Aspects of its Development, Stanley and Benbow,
- Warren Christopher, former Secretary of State
- in Chances
of a Lifetime
Ciardi, poet, translator, etymologist
- Skipped fifth grade
- Chelsea Clinton, daughter of president Bill Clinton
- Skipped the third grade due to her reportedly high reading level...
Chomsky, MIT professor, linguist and human rights activist
- “It wasn’t until high school that I realized I was a good student. The
question simply didn't come up. I knew I had skipped a grade, but what that
mostly meant was that I was the smallest kid in class and had to buy the
tickets when we used to sneak out and go downtown to the movies, as I was
the only one who could still pass for ten or whatever age it was.”
Taylor Compton prominent American physicist and president of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1930 to 1948
- In 1902 Compton skipped a grade and went into Wooster University's
preparatory department for the last two years of high school. In 1908 he
graduated from Wooster cum laude with a bachelor of philosophy degree...
Conners father of ADHD
- He skipped high school and graduated from the University of Chicago at age
16; gained First Class Honors in Philosophy, Psychology, and Physiology as a
Rhodes Scholar at Oxford...
- Skipped two grades, lettered in 2 sports for all 4
years of high school, graduated high school at 16, started
College Knowledge Tutoring at age 19,
graduated summa cum laude from Georgia Tech at 20, accepted to and began
Harvard Business School at 21...
Crawford, Canadian “ice cider” entrepreneur
- Skipped two grades
Crowe, writer, director, producer
- Skipped Kindergarten and two grades in elementary school, graduated high
school at age 15, and began writing for Rolling Stone Magazine at age 15...
Curie (Manva Sklodowski), scientist, winner of Nobel prizes in Physics
in 1903, shared with her husband, and Chemistry in 1935
- "How could she [Miss Tupalska, her teacher] not be proud of this brilliant
pupil, two years younger than her classmates, who seemed to find nothing
difficult and was invariably first in ciphering, first in history, first in
literature, German, French and catechism?"
Curie, scientist, winner of Nobel prizes in Physics in 1903, shared with
his wife and Becquerel
- Twice accelerated, like his wife...
(Reagan) Davis, presidential daughter,
- "Patti was such a good student that, like her father, she skipped third
grade. “She was smart, and musically talented, and one of the prettiest
girls in our class.”" Read more in
Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House--1911 to 1980
- Dorothy Delay, Julliard professor and
teacher to such violin luminaries
as Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Sarah Chang
- from her biography,
Demaine, assistant professor of computer science at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and the leading theoretician in the emerging field of
- started college courses at 12, and received his doctorate at 20 and at the
same age became the youngest professor ever at M.I.T. In 2003 he was granted a
MacArthur "genius" fellowship...
Deromedi, Football coach, inductee into the College Football Hall of
- Skipped 2 grades...
Doleac professional basketball player
- The same drive that Doleac has in the classroom -- he skipped sixth grade
-- enabled him to mold that body, which through weight training now has just
6 percent fat, and become a prospective N.B.A. first-round pick. He
has stated that he wants to be a doctor once his NBA career is over...
Donen, Director, "Master of the Musical"
- Mr. Donen, who had graduated from a South Carolina high school that June
at the age of 16, was a member of the chorus... “dismissed for a time as
Gene Kelly’s invisible partner.” he eventually directed "Singing in the
Rain." Here's his Oscar acceptance
speech, oft considered the best ever.
Stanley Donen’s Oscar Speech Was an All-Time Classic
E. B. DuBois, pioneering Pan-Africanist, first African American to receive
a PhD from Harvard, and the only African American member of the original
NAACP board of directors, and was the editor of the NAACP's magazine for 25
- ...grade-skipped and graduated from high school at 16 (page 26 of
A Nation Deceived)
- Tim Duncan, basketball player
- Hugh L.
- NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center is named for him
Dryden received his diploma from Baltimore City College (a high school,
despite its name) at age 14, the youngest ever to graduate. Not merely the
youngest, he ranked first in a class of 172, and won the Peabody Prize for
excellence in mathematics. In spring of 1919, he received the Ph.D. degree
in applied physics, at 20 the youngest person ever to earn a Johns Hopkins
- Amelia Earhart,
- First woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic, May 20-21, 1932.
For this achievement she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by
Vice-President Charles Curtis on July 29, 1932 (skipped twice)
Ebb, Lyricist, with John Kander, wrote many musicals, including Cabaret,
Chicago, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and more...
- Interviewer: "When did you get the bug, how did you get it, and did you
think you were going to be working in the theater from the beginning? . . ."
Ebb: ". . . . I had considered that maybe writing lyrics was something I
could do. I'd already gone to school as much as you can go to school, which
was a delaying tactic so I wouldn't have to face life."
Interviewer: "It wasn't much of a delaying tactic. You had a master's degree
[from Columbia U.] by the time you were eighteen, didn't you?"
Ebb: "Yes. Then there wasn't much else I could think of to do
From interview with Fred Ebb and John Kander, in "The
Art Of The American Musical: Conversations With The Creators
," edited by
Jackson R. Bryer & Richard Allan Davison
Middleton Edwards, chief technology officer-- "head nerd," he calls
it--of a company he founded called Intranet
- Julian Stanley's second radical acceleration: Not the ideal academic
path, but "Looking back on his teenage years, Edwards says he does not
regret going to college at an early age. "Had I not been plucked out of
junior high school, I think I would have become deeply angry and alienated
and self-destructive. That is what happens to many very bright people."
- Gertrude Belle "Trudy" Elion,
pioneering women scientist
- Entered college at 15...
S. Eliot, poet and Nobel Laureate in Literature
- ...finished his undergraduate degree at Harvard in three years, his
masters degree in one year (page 26 of
A Nation Deceived)
Satchel O’Sullivan “Seamus” Farrow (Mia and Woody's son)
- Started college at 11 at Simon's Rock College of Bard in Great
Barrington, MA. After two years being ferried back and forth to classes by
Mia, she finally agreed to let him live on campus -- at age 14. Later
worked in public affairs including at the U.S. State Department, graduated
from Yale Law School, and was chosen to be a Rhodes Scholar. Currently
working a journalist. The New Yorker shared the Pulitzer Prize for public
service in 2018 for his reporting.
- Nobel Prize winner in literature, 1949
Ferraro, 1st woman as major party Vice-Presidential candidate and former
- Skipped three grades...
Ann Udstad Fertel founder of Ruth's Chris Steak Houses
- Skipped several grades in grammar school, and later entered Louisiana
State University in Baton Rouge at the age of fifteen to pursue degrees in
chemistry and physics...
- Captain of HMS Beagle on voyage of Charles Darwin, credited as the founder
of meteorology. He entered the Royal Navy College, Partsmouth, when he was
Flack, American singer, songwriter, and musician
- During her early teens, Flack so excelled at classical piano that Howard
University awarded her a full music scholarship. She entered Howard at the
age of 15, making her one of the youngest students ever to enroll there...
- Jodie Foster,
actress and director
- Graduated magna cum laude Yale University in English Literature, 1985;
graduated as the best of her class from the College Lycée Français, 1980.
Won two Academy Awards, for The Accused (1988, best actress), and The
Silence of the Lambs (1991, best actress)
Hope Franklin, Dean of African American historians, Professor Emeritus,
Duke University and Duke University Law School, recipient of the
Presidential Medal of Freedom
- ...graduated Fisk University at age 20
- Founder of NOW, the National Organization for Women, author of The
, 1999 biography Betty
Friedan: Her Life
Friedman, American economist and public intellectual
- The youthful Friedman made heavy use of Rahway's small local library --
"almost exhausting the contents" -- and was an enthusiastic Boy Scout. He
shined in the classroom, winning an unexpected promotion to seventh grade
midway through sixth. Slight of stature - Friedman was about 5"2' as an
adult - he played on the chess team and volunteered to do chores for the
baseball team. After graduating, he moved 12 miles away to New
Brunswick and entered Rutgers University on a scholarship...
- Skipped two grades
- Art Garfunkel, singer and songwriter
Old Friends: Simon and Garfunkel, A Dual Biography
F. Gatewood, painter, philanthropist
- Skipped two grades
- Shari Geller, former attorney and author
Geschke, Co-founder of Adobe Systems
- "A few years later, when Sister was taking a course in Tests and
Measurements at St. John's College, she needed to administer IQ tests to a
number of children for practice. I was one of the guinea pigs. One result of
that testing is that two of us were made part of principal Sr. Gertrude's
experimentation with Accelerated Learning. Chuck Geschke (co-founder of
Adobe Systems) and I were skipped from 5th grade to 7th grade, which landed
us in the class with Lois and Jay Gardner and a whole host of other kids who
graduated in 1952."
Professor John Lovas
of De Anza College
Gell-Mann Nobel Prize in Physics
Problems finding a good school, accelerated quite a bit; Nobel Prize in
physics, entered Yale at 15, Ph.D. at 21. Read more in
Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-Century
Geller, helped ban cigarette advertising from radio and TV
A communications lawyer and government official who played pivotal roles in
the elimination of cigarette advertising from radio and television and the
televising of political campaign debates between major presidential
candidates. Started elementary school early and graduated from college at
Gets, Broadway and TV actor
Gets skipped two years of K-12 education and graduated from high school at
the age of 16
Giddens, Singer, Instrumentalist, and Songwriter, and MacArthur fellow
- But she was also a self-described nerd who went to the North Carolina
School of Science and Mathematics in Durham: “I definitely found my crew. We
were all weird together.” She dreamed of being a physicist, or maybe an
But then, the summer she was 17, she auditioned for the choral camp at
Governor’s School, a summer program for gifted and creative students. When
Rhiannon started to sing, the teacher left the room and brought back the
other choral teachers. For the first time, Rhiannon thought she might be
able to make a life with her voice.
She decided to get classical training, and made it into the conservatory of
music at Oberlin College in Ohio.
Glass, American composer
Studied the flute as a child at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and
entered an accelerated college program at the University of Chicago at the
age of 15, where he studied Mathematics and Philosophy...
- Mike Gminski, Basketball player turned commentator
- Started at Duke at 16, recruited to NBA at 20 with his degree!, now sports
commentator, after leaving high school a year early...
- Best known from the role as Michael Landon’s wife, Caroline Ingalls, on
Little House on the Prairie TV series; graduated from
high school in 1959, She skipped two grades serving as the student body's
vice-president, and she then entered the University of California, Berkeley.
She graduated with 2 BA degrees in 1965, one in English, the other in
Dramatic Art. She received a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic
Art in London, and eventually became head of its Voice Department...
Holborn Gray Provost and acting President of Yale University, President
of the University of Chicago
- Skipped 2 grades. Read more in
Portraits in Leadership: Six Extraordinary University Presidents
(ACE/Praeger Series on Higher Education)
of Time: My Early Years as a Correspondent
graduated with doctorate at 20.
"The precocious Ruth completed Bushwick High School at age 15. That was
followed by a B.A. at New York University, which she earned by age 18. A
fellowship for a master’s in German and English literature at the University
of Wisconsin led to another grant that allowed her to travel to Germany, to
study at the University of Cologne, in 1931.
Gruber earned a doctorate at Cologne a year later, at age 20, making her the
youngest person ever to complete a PhD in Germany (or, according to some
sources, in the world)."
1911: Happy, Healthy 105th Birthday, Ruth Gruber
V. Hau Danish-born physicist, professor of physics at Harvard; member of
the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences
- skipped 10th grade
- In Denmark 10th grade is optional and only about 1/3 of 9th grade
students continue to 10th grade. It is for children who are not quite ready
to make the educational decisions that needs to be made at this time in
Denmark, whether to go to technical school, vocational school, business
school or to prep-school necessary for college entrance. So skipping 10th
grade in Denmark is normal and often quite desirable.
Deane Hawkins United States Marine Corps officer
- Posthumously awarded the United States' highest military honor — the Medal
of Honor — for heroic actions and sacrifice of life during World War II.
Skipped fifth grade
Hebert chair of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale U School of
Medicine, member of NAS
- Skipped 2 years, also finished college in 3 years...
Edmund Hillary first in group of 2 (with Nepalese guide) to climb Mt
- skipped 2 grades
Hofmeyr, South African Parliamentarian and Visionary Genius
- Educated at the University of Cape Town. He was an extraordinary student,
graduating M.A. at the age of 17. From Cape Town he went to Oxford as
a Rhodes Scholar...
Hollingworth, the mother of Gifted Education
- graduated from Valentine High School at age 16 and continued to college,
unheard of for women in her day.
A Forgotten Voice: A Biography of Leta Stetter Hollingworth by Anne Klein
Dr. Klein has woven the threads of Leta Hollingworth's life and the
strands of educational philosophy (both past and present) into a cloak well
worth the trying on...
- Holtz started at Cal State L.A. at age 10 and entered UCLA Law at 15,
earning a spot on the law review. Once sworn in and admitted to the
Calfornia bar, she’ll be the youngest lawyer in the Golden State, and quite
possibly the nation...
Grace Murray Hopper
here for photos, and first computer bug)
- Navy Rear Admiral at 82, inventor of COBOL computer language (skipped
A. Hrabowski, III, President of UMBC (The University of Maryland,
Baltimore County), consultant to the National Science Foundation, the
National Institutes of Health, and universities and school systems
nationally, child-leader in the Civil Rights Movement
- After graduating from high school at the age of 15 (skipped two grades),
Dr. Hrabowski graduated at 19 from Hampton Institute with highest honors in
mathematics. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he received
his M.A. in mathematics, and four years later his Ph.D. in higher education
administration/statistics at age 24...
Powell Hubble, Astronomer
- graduated from high school at age 16, and continued to University of
Chicago, where he received his B.S. 4 years later
Huhndorf, Alaskan native, scholar of the Native Alaskan experience
- Skipped 2 grades, received a Ph.D. in comparative literature from New York
University in 1996, and she is currently director of the Ethnic Studies
Program and associate professor of English at the University of Oregon. She
is the author of Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural
Itokawa pioneer of Japanese rocketry and of the Japanese space program,
- Popularly known as Dr. Rocket, and he has been
described in the media as the father of Japanese space development.
Itokawa was a genius who skipped grades in school and studied many topics.
He wrote 49 books, and was, many times, a best-selling author...
Jemison, African-American astronaut
- entered Stanford at age 16...
Jobs, cofounder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple Computer, Inc
- "Although the smartest kid in his class, Jobs became so difficult and
obnoxious that he was thrown out of his fourth-grade class. Luckily,
another, better, teacher took him in. Years later, Jobs would recall that
the teacher found a quick motivational tool for the young man: bribes.
Especially money. With the prospect of a payoff down the line, Steven Jobs
could do amazing things. So amazing that he skipped fifth grade
Infinite Loop, by Michael Malone
Johnson professional basketball player
- KJ skipped fifth grade because he was such an advanced
student. "We had to have several meetings at the school because they
raised such a stink about it because he was so young," his mother recalled.
"They had the fourth and fifth graders in one room and Kevin did all of the
fourth grade work, then all of the fifth grade work and they still couldn't
find enough for him to do. He started to become a little nuisance because
they couldn't keep him busy. "It always concerned us because he was so
young, he was a full year behind the other kids. But he was always real
competitive so I think it was a challenge for him."
Bird Johnson, First lady
- Graduated high school at 15
- Carolyn K., director of Hoagies'
Gifted Education Page
- Parent of two profoundly gifted children, entered school directly to 1st grade at 5,
by passing the 5th grade California Achievement Test the principal gave her
on a bet with her mother...
And proud parent of a daughter who skipped three grades - self-orchestrated
early entrance to K, moved to 2nd halfway through 1st, and skipped 6th
entirely after subject acceleration in math and science in 5th. She
graduated from undergrad at just-turned 19, and again with a masters degree
before her 21st birthday.
Karefa-Smart, Leader in Ecumenical Movement
- Rena skipped two grades at a public high school in Connecticut, was
inducted into the National Honor Society and entered college at 15 — all
highly unusual for a black woman in that era...
- Graduated college at 10, taught college by 17, won
AOL's Gold Rush at 22
- he's a millionaire! Read more in
Genius by his parents, Kevin and Cassidy Kearney
- Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
- mother of John Fitzgerald Kennedy...
King, American singer, songwriter, and pianist
- "My mother enrolled me in kindergarten when I was four. By the end of the
school year I had demonstrated such an exceptional facility with numbers and
words that my teachers promoted me directly to second grade." pg 16, Carol
A Natural Woman
Luther King, Jr, leader of the Civil Rights Movement and the recipient of
the Nobel Peace Prize
- skipped twice, graduated from high school at 15
Kirsch, computer scientist who scanned the first digital image
- "Later ranked by Life magazine among the “100 photographs that changed the
world,” it became the foundation for technologies including satellite
imaging, CT scans, bar codes and digital photography, according to the NIST."
After attending the Bronx High School of Science, where he graduated at just
about the time of his 16th birthday, Mr. Kirsch received a bachelor’s degree
in electrical engineering from New York University in 1950 and a master’s
degree in engineering science and applied physics from Harvard University in
Klein, Chief executive officer of Pacificor LLC, company that manages
several hedge fund; founded two companies in the 1990s before becoming
president and CEO of eGroups Inc., which was the world's largest group
e-mail communication service (now Yahoo Groups)
- A colleague described Klein as a brilliant businessman who skipped high
school and graduated from college at age 17. ''One of the most
interesting people you could ever speak to on any ... in a myriad of
Klein comedian, actor
- Skipped 8th grade. Read more in
The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue: A Child of the Fifties Looks Back
Kornberg, Nobel prize for Medicine for discovering "DNA polymerase"
- Graduated from high school at 15; read more in
Doctors and Discoveries: Lives That Created Today's Medicine
Kotok American computer scientist, associate chair of World Wide Web
- By age 3, Kotok survived an inquiry into an electrical outlet with a
screwdriver, and by age 6, he could build and wire household lamps. Kotok
skipped two grades and started college at MIT at age 16...
- Harvey Kurtzman, creator and first editor of Mad Magazine
Completely Mad by Maria Reidelbach
Michael Lanham, youngest Rhodes Scholar
(2000) at age 18
- skipped several grades, entered Centre College at age 15
Lederberg, Nobel Laureate in medicine and physiology
- graduated Stuyvesant High School age 16, Columbia College with honours in
Zoology (premedical course) age 20, and College of Physicians and Surgeons of
Columbia University Medical School age 22 (page 26 of
A Nation Deceived)
Lee, former head writer, editorial and art director, publisher, and
chairman of Marvel Comics
- I studied hard and skipped grades...
Read more in
Excelsior! : The Amazing Life of Stan Lee
Legend, (John Roger Stephens) American singer-songwriter and actor
- Skipped first and seventh grades (he stated on Oprah). "At the age of
twelve, Legend attended North High School, from which he graduated four
years later. Upon his salutatorian graduation, Legend was offered
scholarships to Harvard University, Georgetown University and Morehouse
College. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied
English with an emphasis on African American literature."
- Tom Lehrer
- Harvard math professor, who in the '50's and 60's wrote some really funny
satirical songs. The CD compilation, The
Remains of Tom Lehrer, includes a book that is a mini-biography.
Skipped two grades and finished his undergraduate degree at Harvard when he
- Eugene Levine
- Born in NYC and graduated from Townsend Harris High School in 1941. He
was in his junior year at City College when, at the age of 18, he was
drafted. He landed in a glider on the beach at Normandy on D-Day, receiving
a bronze star for transmitting the first weather reports from Normandy. He
came home to co-found the Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed
Lewis American musician and songwriter
- Skipped second grade
- Art Linkletter TV Personality
Lu fourth year grad student in the Department of Mathematics,
- Started studying at California State University in 1996, when he was 10!
Yo Ma cellist
- Skipped two grades
- Skipped two grades
- Thurgood Marshall, Justice of the Supreme Court (1967-1991)
- NAACP attorney who successfully argued Brown v. Board of Education before
the US Supreme Court, later became Solicitor General of the U.S., and then
Justice of the Supreme Court; grade skipped and graduated early (two skips)
- Heralded by Opera News as “clearly a name to watch,” conductor Pacien
Mazzagatti has already garnered considerable critical acclaim for his work
conducting opera in New York City. An accomplished pianist, Mr.
Mazzagatti began his musical studies at a very early age. At nineteen years
old he completed his Bachelor of Music degree from Temple University in
D. McCawley, one of the great figures of Twentieth Century linguistics,
a recipient of practically every honor possible, Past President of the LSA
- He was recognized early as very bright, and skipped several grades while
attending parochial grade schools and St. Mel’s High School. Entering the
University of Chicago in 1954 at the age of 16 under its early admission
program, he progressed rapidly, gaining early admission also to the graduate
school, from which he received an M.S. in Mathematics in 1958.
- Born March 8, 1919 in Bound Brook, New Jersey and graduated, at age 19,
from Hunter College in New York with a degree in Mathematics. She worked in
the Physics Department at Yale University and later at the American
Institute of Physics. In 1943, she joined the WAVES, serving as an ensign
and later lieutenant in the US Navy, working on underwater ordnance research
in Washington DC...
McKay, songwriter, musician
- Skipped two grades
Nicolas Meijer aka User: Jonnay, French Canadian entrepreneur,
computer engineer, software developer and network administrator
- After less than two months of grade 8, he skipped to grade 9, thereby also
attending a different school, l'École secondaire publique De La Salle...
Milhausen Canadian sexologist and talk show host
- Skipped third grade
Miller chair of Commission on the Future of Higher Education
- He skipped fourth grade and later earned a bachelor's degree in math. He
was a nationally competitive bridge master in his teens and 20s...
- George Mitchell, politician
- Former senator from Maine, former Senate Majority leader, broker of the
peace deal in Northern Ireland
Morphy, (USA, 1837-1884)
- Perhaps the greatest chess player who ever lived, statistically 'the gap'
that separated him from his generation was larger than any other player in
the history of the game of chess. Morphy was also a gifted student,
who took highly accelerated courses, he was doing university level math
before age 10. Paul Morphy finished his studies before he was 18, and
passed the Bar Exam the following year. As he was too young to practice law,
(The legal age for this was then 21, although most firms would not hire you
until you were much older.); so he turned his attention to chess. He
traveled to New York, and played in a chess congress there...
Murphy, Canadian journalist and broadcaster
- Skipped 2 years...
Myhrvold former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, co-founder of
- Myhrvold attended Mirman School. He began college at age 14. He studied
mathematics, geophysics, and space physics at UCLA (BSc, Masters). At
Princeton he earned a master's degree in mathematical economics and
completed a PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics by age 23.
Read his testimony on
Quality and Improvement”
- Ashish Nanda, Professor
- Assistant Professor in General Management, Harvard University
Gneisenau Neihardt, Nebraska's Poet
Laureate for fifty-two years
- Graduated from Wayne Normal College at the age of sixteen. He began
writing poetry at the age of twelve and published his first book at the age of
- Having skipped a grade, Jack was a year younger than most of his
classmates... Read more in
Jack's Life: A Biography of Jack Nicholson
Pat Ryan Nixon, former First Lady of the United States of America
- With superior grades, Pat Ryan Nixon skipped the second grade; she
graduated cum laude from University of Southern California
Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America
- Skipped the second grade; read more in
The Contender: Richard Nixon: The Congress Years, 1946 to 1952
Obama, wife of Barack Obama
- She and her brother, Craig (who is 16 months older), skipped the second
grade. She grew up on the south side of Chicago and went on to Princeton and
Harvard Law. Another great article,
Marian Robinson’s daughter, Michelle, skipped second grade
Sandra Day O'Connor, jurist
- Became the first woman Supreme Court Associate Justice. Read more in
Lazy B: Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest by Sandra
Okoye pro football player (Houston Texans)
- Skipped 6th grade – began college at 16
- "My wife (and co-author) Karen Page skipped a grade in elementary school,
and was admitted to Northwestern University at the age of 16. She also
earned an MBA from Harvard, where she was an AAUW Foundation Fellow and one
of five nominees for the Fitzie Foundation Award honoring the most
outstanding woman student. She is the co-author of many cookbooks, including
The Flavor Bible
which was named one of the best cookbooks of 2008 by
"Good Morning America," People magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Can you tell that I'm proud of her?" --
husband and co-author Andrew Dornenburg
L. Perl, physicist
- Nobel Laureate in physics 1995 with Frederick Reines, for the discovery of
the tau lepton
Ponsot, poet, teacher
- Skipped three grades...
Powell, wife of Colin Powell
- Alma had skipped grades in school and graduated from Fisk University in
Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of nineteen... Read more in
My American Journey
Prince, theatrical producer and director extraordinaire
- Productions include Fiddler on the Roof, Company, Zorba, A Little Night
Music, Cabaret, Candide, to name but a few (see
Internet Broadway Database for a complete list). Started college
at University of Pennsylvania at "barely 16" and graduated at 19, according
to his 1974 autobiography
F. Ramsey, physicist
- Nobel Laureate in physics 1989 with Hans G. Dehmelt and Wolfgang Paul,
"for the invention of the separated oscillatory fields method and its use in
the hydrogen maser and other atomic clocks"
Reagan, 40th President of the U.S.
- Reading newspapers before he entered school, he earned a 95 average in
first grade, and he skipped a grade... Read more in
Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House--1911 to 1980
- Condoleezza Rice,
White House Cabinet Member, Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution
- Rice enrolled at the University of Denver at the age of 15, graduating at
19 with a bachelor's degree in political science (cum laude). She earned a
master's degree at the University of Notre Dame and a doctorate from the
University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies. Both of her
advanced degrees are also in political science.
C. Richardson, chemist
- Nobel Laureate in physics 1996 with David M. Lee and Douglas D. Osheroff,
for their discovery of superfluidity in helium-3
Sally Ride, astronaut
- Ph.D. in physics, and a dual undergraduate degree in Physics and English
due to her interest in Shakespeare. Sally Ride traveled through Europe with
her family, for a year, at age 9. Her mother indicated "They learned as
much traveling as they would have in school. "When she came back she
was so far ahead they accelerated her.
- LeeAnn Rimes, country singer
- Tina Rosenberg,
- First freelance journalist to receive a five-year MacArthur Fellowship
"genius" award; Pulitzer Prize in Letters and Drama, General
Non-Fiction, for her book The
Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism
V. Rostow, public servant, head of the Arms Control Agency, held a
number of high government foreign policy posts
- Skipped two grades. Read more in
America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War
Whitman Rostow, American economist and political theorist, served as
Special Assistant for National Security Affairs for U.S. President Lyndon B.
- Skipped two grades. Read more in
America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War
Roth, American novelist
- Skipped a grade. Read more in
Conversations With Philip Roth
N. Rothbard, economist, historian, political scientist
- He skipped grades "with disconcerting rapidity." Read more in
An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard
Nathan Rottman M.D., cardiac surgeon, Professor of Medicine and
Professor of Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
- The third person to be radically accelerated by Julian Stanley.
In 1972, he was "an extremely able tenth-grader
terribly bored with the low academic level of his public high school
classes. I got him into Johns Hopkins as a regular freshman majoring in
Sherwood Rowland, chemist
- Nobel Laureate in chemistry 1995 with Paul Crutzen and Mario Molina, for
their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation
and decomposition of ozone
Sabur, World's youngest Professor
- She made the jump to college at age 10. And by age 14, Sabur was earning a
bachelor’s of science degree in applied mathematics summa cum laude from
Stony Brook University — the youngest female in U.S. history to do so...
- Ephraim Salaam, football player
- San Diego State University
Scanlan, Miss America 2011
- Skipped one year of high school, also homeschooled.
- Daniel Schorr, journalist (b. 1916)
- The distinguished journalist entered high school as a sophomore a month
after his 13th birthday, "having saved a year in junior high
school." He also found his passion early, working on the school paper
and editing the yearbook. While attending CCNY, he switched to night school
so he could work as a freelance news writer, and took two extra years to
graduate college. In a career spanning more than 6 decades, he has worked in
print, radio and TV. He has received numerous awards, and has been inducted
into the Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame. At 84, he
continues to work as a senior news analyst for NPR and has published his
memoir, "Staying Tuned."
- Charles Schulz, cartoonist, Peanuts
- Two times he skipped half a grade...
Semmes, Noah Harding Professor of Mathematics, Rice University
- received his BS at age 18, his PhD in mathematics at 21, and was hired as
a full professor at Rice at age 25
Shaw, African-American physicist
- Skipped a grade...
Read more in
Shearer, voice of Mr. Burns, Smithers, Ned Flanders (and more!) on The
- started college at 16...
- Brooke Shields, actress
- Graduated Princeton University, in French literature
- Paul Simon, singer and songwriter
Old Friends: Simon and Garfunkel, A Dual Biography
Sklar, pioneering woman veterinarian
- Graduated from high school at 15, by-passed pre-vet, finished at age 19...
O. Smith, doctor
- Nobel Laureate in medicine 1978 with Werner Arber and Daniel Nathans, for
the discovery of restriction enzymes and their application to problems of
Christian Smuts, Prime Minister of the South African Union
- At 16 Smuts went to Victoria College in Stellenbosch, forerunner of the
present University. After a brilliant career at Stellenbosch, Smuts went to
Cambridge, 1891, where he read for the Bar...
Sondheim, American composer and lyricist
- Enrolled in 1st grade at age 6. Already reading the New York Times, by 5th
grade, taking calculus. Skipped from 7th to 8th grade. Graduated from
the George School at 16; Williams College at 20. Revolutionized the
American musical... Read more in
Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber: The New Musical
- Susan Sontag,
- Educated "all in public schools, quite a number of them, each one
more lowering than the one before. But I was lucky to have started school
before the era of the child psychologists. Since I could read and write, I
was immediately put into the third grade, and later I was skipped another
semester, so I was graduated from high school . . . when I was still
fifteen." From a 1994 interview with Edward Hirsch published in the
Paris Review's "Women Writers at Work."
- David Spade, witty social commentary
- Saturday Night Live comedian
Spence prominent trial lawyer
- The teacher reported... "He is very bright. He is ahead of all the
other children even though he's skipped a grade, and I don't know what to do
with him." Read more in
The Making of a Country Lawyer: An Autobiography
Sproul author of
Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World, one of the the founding
members of Amnesty International U.S.A.
- “I skipped fourth grade.” Barbara earned her B.A. from Sarah
Lawrence and her M.A. and Ph.D. in religion from Columbia. She has
been a professor and director of the Program in Religion at Hunter College,
- Julian Stanley, educator
- Founder of the Johns Hopkins programs for exceptionally talented youth
- Jacqueline Steiner, lyricist,
“Let me tell you the story of a man named Charlie. …”
- Jackie skipped two grades and arrived at Vassar College at 16. She
graduated in 1944 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, then headed to
Radcliffe to study philosophy but dropped out to pursue a career as a folk
singer and songwriter
- Sharon Stone, actress
Styron award-winning novelist (The Confessions of Nat Turner; Sophie's
Choice; etc.) & co-founder of the Paris Review
- With predisposition for literature (Styron learned to read well before he
entered the first grade) and a grandfather who "possessed much native
Sullivan actress and comedian
- most notable for being one of the original cast of comedians on sketch
comedy series MADtv. Nicole did so well academically that she skipped
a grade in middle school. Nicole was president of her class during her
senior year of high school. She was treasurer her junior year...
- Alexandra Swann, author of I Was an Accelerated Child
- For more detail, read No Regrets: How Home Schooling Earned Me A Masters Degree At Age 16
Jodie Leanne Sweetin
actress and typical teenager
- Played Stephanie on the TV sitcom Full House, for 8 years beginning at
only 5 years old
Elizabeth Marie "Betty" Tallchief (Osage family name: Ki He
Kah Stah Tsa; January 24, 1925 – April 11, 2013) was an
American ballerina. She was considered America's first major
prima ballerina. She was the first Native American to hold
the rank, and is said to have revolutionized ballet. At age
five, Tall Chief was enrolled at the nearby Sacred Heart
Catholic School. Impressed by her reading ability, the
teachers allowed her to skip the first two grade levels...
Tao UCLA Professor, Fields medal winner (2006), along with the Salem
Prize (2000), Bocher Prize (2002), Clay Research Award (2003) and American
Mathematical Society's Levi L. Conant Prize
Terence Tao exhibited mature mathematical abilities from an
early age. Tao attended university at the age of nine. He is
one of only two children in the history of the Johns Hopkins
Study of Exceptional Talent program to have achieved a score
of 700 or greater on the SAT math section while just 8 years
old (he scored a 760). In
1988, Tao was the youngest participant to date in the
International Mathematical Olympiads, first competing at
the age of ten, winning a bronze, silver, and gold medal
respectively. He won the gold medal when he just turned
thirteen and remains the youngest gold medalist in the
tournament's history. At age 14, Tao attended the
Research Science Institute. He received his bachelor's
and master's degrees (at the age of 17) from
Flinders University under
Garth Gaudry. From
1996, Tao was a graduate student at
Princeton University under the direction of
Elias Stein, receiving his Ph.D. at the age of 20. He
UCLA's faculty that year.
Journeys to the Distant Fields of Prime for more...
Tarkenton football star, software executive, TV personality
- Skipped 6th grade.
William Thompson Lord Kelvin (the
great physicist for whom the Kelvin was named), b. Belfast, 1823)
- William was home taught (not uncommon in the 19th century). His father was
Professor of Mathematics at the Royal Institution of Belfast. When William
turned 10, his father was offered the Chair of Mathematics at the University
of Glasgow; William, at age 10, entered the university. He was the top in
his class in math, logic and classics; published the first of some 600
scientific papers at the age of 16. He went on to Cambridge for what was, in
effect, graduate work in theoretical physics. He was also on the rowing team
and founded the Cambridge University music society. After a brief time in
Paris, he became Professor of Natural Philosophy in Glasgow, a position he
held for 53 years. After his death in 1907, he was buried in Westminster
Abbey near Newton and Darwin, as a mark of esteem.
Shawn Toovey, child actor
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman among others (skipped multiple grades)
Hard Townes, Nobel Laureate in Physics 1964
- After serving as vice president and director of research of the Institute
for Defense Analyses, Washington, D.C., he was provost of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (1961–66). Skipped 7th grade, graduated with dual bachelors degrees at age 19...
- George I.
- formed the company known as Infinite Health, the first High Tech
Nutritional Evaluation Clinic in Canada
- Harry Truman,
33rd President of the United States of America
- Skipped a grade even after
missing almost a year of school to a nearly paralyzing disease
Vigoda, musician, founding member of
- Raised in a suburb outside Washington D.C., [Valerie] Vigoda grew up
singing with her father and began violin lessons at age 8. She also skipped
three grades and at age 14, became the youngest female accepted to Princeton
Ward, professional hockey player
- Skipped 2 grades “Whatever he hits, he destroys”
Warren, governor of California and Chief Justice of the United States
- Earl was small for his age as a boy and, because he started school early
and skipped a grade... Read more in
Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made
Penn Warren, writer, anthologist, editor of The Southern Review,
professor, and inveterate traveler
- he skipped three grades...
James D. Watson, president Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
- 1962 Nobel Laureate in Medicine with Francis H. C. Crick, for their
discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nuclear acids and its
significance for information transfer in living material. B.A., University
of Chicago, 1947 (age 19, entered college after sophomore year of high
- Wiener received his college degree from Tufts at the age of fourteen and a
doctorate from Harvard a few years later; he contributed to a broad variety
of mathematical and scientific fields and was a widely-read popularizer of
scientific concepts, including many which he originated.
Winfrey, talk show host
- "At three Oprah could read. She also learned how to write. On the first
day of kindergarten she wrote, "Dear Miss New, I do not think I belong her."
She was moved to the first grade, and at the end of the year she was skipped
to the third grade..."
- Rosalyn S. Yalow, pioneering women scientist
- Entered college at 15...
Al Yankovic, musician and humorist, see
Music for Gifted Mind
- Served as valedictorian of his high school at age 16...
Zucker president of NBC Television
- Skipped a grade...
Fictional Grade Skipped Characters
Brewer in Baby-Sitters Little Sister
- Karen is quite gifted--she is younger than most of her classmates as she
skipped the first grade. She won many spelling bees (going so far as to
compete in the State Bee) and has many hobbies which consist of reading,
writing, arts and crafts, softball, and running small neighborhood
businesses (dog walking and lemonade stands in particular)...
Clark in the ClueFinders
- Leslie's first word was "encyclopedia," and she uses complicated words all
the time simply for the sake of it. For example she describes tossing a
frisbee as "exploring the aerodynamics of this projectile". Leslie is the
only character ever depicted with a skirt. Leslie's grandfather is Captain
Clark, the captain of a ship that featured in The ClueFinders 5th Grade
Adventures. Leslie has green eyes and her hair varies between dark brown and
black in different products. She is 10 years old and in sixth grade (she
skipped a grade)...
Charlie Eppes in
- Charlie Eppes, professor of mathematics at a Southern California technical
university, uses math to help his brother Don solve perplexing crimes for
in Doogie Howser, M.D.
- A brilliant teenaged doctor who was also faced with the problems of being
a normal teenager, despite having graduated from
Princeton University at age 10. The show characterized the genius
Howser as a normal teenager, rather than having the stereotypical traits of
- Chiyo Mihama
in Azumanga Daioh
- A child prodigy, Chiyo has skipped five grades to 10th grade (the first
grade in Japanese high school) at the start of the series and is still at
the top of the class. Although extremely smart and responsible for her age
(she is the Class Representative, and she packs her own bento box every
morning), she still has the naïvete, desires, and fears of a child. But
despite it all, she gets along well with her much older classmates...
- Patricia "Patty"
Pryor in American Dreams
- The series ended in the summer after Patty's sophomore year at East
Catholic (she skipped a grade). It is revealed that Patty achieved her
goal to attend Radcliffe College in Massachusetts...
"Kit" K. Rodriguez in the Young Wizards
- Despite being one year younger than Nita, Kit is usually the more mature
member of the pair. Kit is in Nita's grade in school, having skipped a
grade. He often gets teased because of his Spanish accent....
"Skip" Ross in Just Legal
- Nicknamed "Skip" by his peers, is not nicknamed "Skip" because he skipped
classes, but rather because he skipped so many grades through his young
life. At the age of 18, he is already a lawyer in the California Bar
Association, graduating number 1 in his class. His ambition is to become the
best trial lawyer ever. Unfortunately for him, because of his young age, no
downtown law firm is willing to hiring him, except...
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island,
send for a boy orphan to help them out at the farm, they are in no way
prepared for the error that will change their lives, in the shape of Anne
Shirley, a redheaded 11-year-old girl who can talk anyone under the table.
Fortunately, her sunny nature and quirky imagination quickly win over her
reluctant foster parents... Eventually, Anne has the top high-school
entrance exam score in the province, and completes the standard two-year
course in a single year...
Taylor in The Simpsons
- A student at Springfield Elementary School and Lisa's new classmate,
introduced in the episode "Lisa's Rival". Allison is as smart or smarter
than Lisa, younger (having skipped a grade) and like Lisa, a young master of
the saxophone. Regardless, Lisa tries to be her friend, though she battles
her envy and jealousy...
Liberty Van Zandt in Degrassi: The Next Generation
- Liberty has always been the nerd of the bunch. Smart but awkward and can't
tell when people are not into her, Liberty is very a pristine perfectionist
savant. She skipped grade 6, which sent her from grade 5 straight into
junior high at Degrassi. She doesn't encounter many issues being a girl who
has control over her life and her mind set on education...
Copyright © 1999-2016 Carolyn K.
December 07, 2020