13-year-old Minnesota youth set to graduate from college

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. undergraduate / ˌʌn dərˈgrædʒ u ɪt / (n.) – a student studying at a college or university to earn his/her first degree

    Kenneth is a Harvard undergraduate.

  2. curriculum / kəˈrɪk yə ləm / (n.) – a detailed list of subjects in a program or course taught in a school or any educational institution

    The primary school curriculum includes basic household skills.

  3. on the verge of (something) / ɒn ðə vɜrʤ ʌv / (idiom) – very close to doing something

    I was on the verge of giving up on writing a business proposal when my team member pitched an interesting idea.

  4. fellowship / ˈfɛl oʊˌʃɪp / (n.) – an amount of money given to a graduate student to do research or teach at a university

    Miranda applied for a research fellowship in developmental psychology.

  5. grant / grænt / (n.) – money given to a person by a government or an institution for a special purpose

    I applied for a scholarship grant to pursue my master’s degree in applied economics.


Read the text below.

A 13-year-old boy from Minnesota will soon earn his bachelor’s degree from college — with a major in physics and a minor in math.

Elliott Tanner is maintaining a 3.78 grade point average at the University of Minnesota and is participating in undergraduate research while also tutoring classmates. He wants to be a high-energy theoretical physicist and ultimately a professor of physics at the university.

“I have an incredible passion for physics,” he said. “It’s been one of my favorite things to do.”

Elliott’s mom, Michelle Tanner, said he started reading and doing math by age 3. Following a few years of homeschooling and a high school curriculum that took him two years to complete, he began taking college classes when he was 9.

“People who hear Elliott’s story say he doesn’t get to be a kid, or he grew up too fast,” Michelle said. “He still very much is a kid and the only difference is he goes to school in a different building.”

Besides being on the verge of graduating, he has been accepted into the University of Minnesota’s Physics PhD program. Now his parents are trying to figure out how to pay for it.

“We’re just trying to explore all our options, and coming up with dead ends,” Michelle said. “Trying to apply for any scholarships, fellowships, grants, and we have not been successful.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • In some special situations, advanced students like Tanner start college at a very young age. Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? Why? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, what kind of support can universities and education departments provide to advanced students like Tanner (ex. scholarships, counseling)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • If you were Tanner’s parent or family member, would you support his decision to apply for a PhD program? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Tanner’s applications for scholarships, fellowships, and grants for a PhD program have not been successful. If you were part of a group that gives scholarships and grants, would you approve Tanner’s application? Why or why not? Discuss.