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University of Virginia Student Graduates in One Year 796

An anonymous reader writes "18-year-old David Banh of Annandale, VA recently graduated from the University of Virginia with a double major in Physics and Mathematics, and an education paid for almost entirely by scholarships. What's truly amazing is that he did it in one year, bringing in 72 Advanced Placement credits, then taking 23 credits his fall semester, 37 credits his spring semester and 3 credits in the summer. His brief undergraduate career didn't leave him much time to explore college, so he's now working on his master's degree. He says he may eventually pursue law school as a part-time student in hopes of becoming a patent lawyer."
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University of Virginia Student Graduates in One Year

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  • Moo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chacham ( 981 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:07PM (#16147543) Homepage Journal
    Useless fact:
    Meanwhile, he had mastered bridge -- yes, the card game -- competed in tournaments all over and ran the school club, which doubled in size.

    What he did:
    He was helped by the fact that U-Va., as a public school, costs a lot less than most private colleges. And that the university accepted many of his Advanced Placement credits from high school; many of the most selective private schools wouldn't. As it was, he doubled up on course credits and took more physics over the summer to finish his second major.

    Where he going:
    He expects to finish his master's degree this academic year

    What he wants to do:
    Where he wants to He wants to be a patent attorney.


    Many professors would like students to explore and experiment in college rather than cram in as much as possible at top speed.

    How he did it:
    His college education, almost entirely covered by a patchwork of scholarships, cost him about $200. And he sold back textbooks for more than that. Now he's starting graduate study at U-Va. with a research grant.


    Basically, it's a neat feat that took years to prepare for, like going through a process to be "pre-qualified", but he isn't quite Doogie.
    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Funny)

      by TCQuad ( 537187 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:13PM (#16147608)
      Meanwhile, he had mastered bridge -- yes, the card game -- competed in tournaments all over and ran the school club, which doubled in size.

      Yeah, the other guy in the bridge club was excited to finally get someone to play with.
      • Re:Moo (Score:5, Funny)

        by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:58PM (#16148040) Journal
        What a waste of a genius. A lawyer.
        • Re:Moo (Score:4, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:15PM (#16148716) Homepage Journal
          And don't 18, you're still bulletproof, you NEED to have your fun then through early 20's.

          Get laid as much as're peaking dude!! Fuck everything while it is still tight enough to *squeek*.

          Party some too...while you're young enough that it doesn't hurt.

          At least with this kid...he's gotten a lot of the important stuff out of the way....he could afford to slow down and experience some of the fun stuff in college. It is good to study, think ahead and do what your supposed to do, but, don't forget , you're young and you won't be forever...ENJOY it too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FurryFeet ( 562847 )
          Yup. Like Lawrence Lessig. There's a waste for you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've always heard policies of no more than 30-32 AP credits (roughly 1/4 of the degree requirements, and they don't scale it up if you do happen to do a double major). Having half of your credits come from freshman level courses doesn't seem the most appropriate method to getting an eduation.
      • Re:Moo (Score:5, Informative)

        by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:27PM (#16147735) Homepage Journal

        I am surprised they all counted. You can take a ton of AP classes, but a lot of it will never help you to a degree. Any idiot can sign up and take the AP exam even if the AP class is not offered at a high school.

        I recently had a student come in with 60, but 72 is amazing. I encouraged her to take more electives and get into undergraduate research.

        The other thing, most places limit you to 23 hours per semester. He must have gotten a waiver for 30+. With night classes, you oculd easily do 37. I did 23 one quarter at GT, it wasn't that bad.

      • Re:Moo (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Phillup ( 317168 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:16PM (#16148196)
        Having half of your credits come from freshman level courses doesn't seem the most appropriate method to getting an eduation.

        Considering the pace and methodology, I'd say he wasn't interested in an education... he was there to get a degree.

        And... it sounds like he will be the perfect lawyer.
    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Funny)

      by Otter ( 3800 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:15PM (#16147620) Journal
      Meanwhile, in the time it took you to write all that (and me to read it!), David Banh completed dental school!
    • Re:Moo (Score:4, Insightful)

      by GoodOmens ( 904827 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:53PM (#16147996) Homepage
      Yea but half the fun of college was going to college. Even if I was capabale of graduating in 1 year I wouldn't have. College was to much fun .... as many put it ... enjoy your young years while you can. You have the rest of your life to be a grown-up ....
      • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

        by psykocrime ( 61037 ) <> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:28PM (#16148285) Homepage Journal
        enjoy your young years while you can. You have the rest of your life to be a grown-up ...

        Or you could simply refuse to "grow up" and have fun your
        entire life. The idea that you reach a certain age, or point in time and suddenly
        have to start behaving differently is B.S. You can be young as long as you
        choose to consider yourself young.

        Now excuse me while I go put some Twisted Sister [] on....

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Shadowmist ( 57488 )

          Nice idea but at some point those demons called responsibilities kick in. When you've got a spouse and kids or other family that you have to take care of, I would hope that you would take a different frame of thought then a single resident in a bachelor pad might.

          I used to think that way, but now with my 46th birthday coming up in less than 9 hours, I've realised that in part I've joined that "enemy over thirty.".... and that we all must at some point.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Responsibility and youthfulness are not irreconcilable. :) Congratulations on being forty-six years young!
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Dun Malg ( 230075 )
            Nice idea but at some point those demons called responsibilities kick in. When you've got a spouse and kids or other family that you have to take care of...
            Those responsibilities don't just automatically "kick in", all by themselves. Those are all each a yoke you voluntarily place on your own shoulders. One can lead a long life of meaningless irresponsibility with plenty of money and no ill effects if one is careful to avoid things like wives, children, mortgages, etc.
          • Re:Moo (Score:4, Insightful)

            by psykocrime ( 61037 ) <> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:31PM (#16149394) Homepage Journal
            Sure some things change, but - as another poster pointed out - many of that new "responsibilities" are voluntarily chosen and optional. Nobody forces
            you to get married, have children, buy a house, etc.

            And as somebody else said (again) you can be responsible and still think of yourself as young, and enjoy life and have fun... it's all about finding the right balance that works for you.

            And yes, I'm over 30 myself, but I'm still (mostly) the same guy I was when I was 18, 20, 25, 30, whatever. And I still refuse to refer to
            myself as an "adult" or a "grown up" but yet I still manage to have enough responsibility to pay bills, hold down a pretty good job, finish a 3rd college degree, etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by kalirion ( 728907 )
        Half the fun? In my experience college would have been a whole lot more fun without all those courses getting in the way.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ksheff ( 2406 )
        my years in college wasn't much different than what my life is like now: go to class/work, at home I'd mess around on my computer & download software from via a BBS/ISP, watch TV reruns and sleep in on the weekends. The only big difference is income and my friends are a few states away rather than just being a few doors down the hall. So for me, college was just as boring as "real life".
    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jazman_777 ( 44742 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:55PM (#16148015) Homepage
      Many professors would like students to explore and experiment in college rather than cram in as much as possible at top speed.

      Also, the administrators would like you to take as long as possible to get your degree, to increase the revenue flow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Why wouldn't a guy with this much capability just jump into a Ph.D. program? He'd make the 30-year-old Ph.D. grads look like chumps when he finishes before 20.
  • by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:08PM (#16147549)
  • The punchline (Score:3, Informative)

    by stuntpope ( 19736 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:08PM (#16147552)
    And what does he want to be after he completes his education (he is now entering a math masters program)?

    A patent attorney.
  • 37 credits? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JKConsult ( 598845 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:08PM (#16147555)
    Jesus! I recently returned to finish my degree, and 18 hours plus 20 hours of working is kicking my ass a little bit.
  • by avalys ( 221114 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:09PM (#16147560) have completely missed the point.

    • by EvilNight ( 11001 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:12PM (#16147597)
      Missed the point? I figured he was just getting the bullshit over with as quickly as possible!
      • College is also about social interaction and trying new things.

        Don't get me wrong - classes are important, but making new connections and the experiences you have are as important or, in some cases, even more so. A life where you do nothing but work is no life.
        • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:44PM (#16147897) Homepage
          I powered through school in order to become a programmer, back in the day. 12 months a year, 23 credits a semester, one, two jobs at the same time. I thought I was in a hurry.

          In my old age, I know realize that the facts I learned weren't the education. I missed an education. I never had time to make friends or go to a party or watch TV.

          The education is being with people as smart as you, as young as you. It's watching Battlestar Galactica together and learning about how other people think about moral questions... it's about making friends with your professors and the TA's. College is where you start making the friends that will connect you with the world as you leave school, giving you access to jobs and communities and a life.

          If I had a summary, it would be: goof off in college. Spend an extra year there. Talk to everyone. Take a difficult course twice. Don't be afraid to change concentrations. Go to parties. Get drunk. Meet the opposite sex, even the same sex if that floats your boat. Maybe even at the same time. Live. Learn everything. Cheat authority at every turn, 'cause that disrespect and ability to bypass idiot rules will give you real success at life -- conformity makes you a loser, no matter what toys they give you. There is no other time or place in your whole life that will let you be yourself again, so grab it while you can.

          This kid has educated himself into mediocrity.
          • Funny how that works, isn't it? I occasionally hear people quoting Corinthians 13:11 when they deal with people they think need to "grow up" (it's one of the hazards of living in the bible belt)

            "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

            I always want to add something to the end - "When I became wise, I leanred the value of childish things and turned to them once more"
            • by syntaxglitch ( 889367 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:23PM (#16148255)
              I always want to add something to the end - "When I became wise, I leanred the value of childish things and turned to them once more"

              Try instead quoting a portion of this, written by a very well-known author and Christian apologist:

              "Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
              -- C. S. Lewis
      • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:41PM (#16147868) Homepage
        I think what the parent meant is a large part of University is not just preparing for your job, but preparing through your life. A lot of the stuff you go through in Univeristy (partying,hangovers with an exam the next day, relationships succeeding, failing, and fucking your life over, prioritizing relationships vs. fun vs. school), prepare you for various aspects of your life as an adult.

        This guy skipped all that, obsessed with the scholoarly aspect 24/7. He will probably do the same with his job, become quite wealthy, but ultimately very depressed. I wouldn't be surprised to see this guy on a suicide watch by the time he is 25 if he is not careful.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by senatorpjt ( 709879 )
          I spent six years getting my BS. Most of that was spent drinking alone in my room and being depressed about being unable to socialize. It was a total waste of time. The reason it took six years is because I got too depressed to leave my room, buy liquor, or get food. I ended up storing my piss in jars because I didn't want to have to talk to anyone. The longer I spent there not socializing, the more depressed I got.

          If you're not a social person, you might as well get it over as quickly as possible.
    • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:34PM (#16147806) Homepage Journal
      I was going to say the exact same thing.

      Racing through college like that just seems like wasted opportunities galore. Not only for the social interaction, which he almost certainly didn't get, but to take all sorts of other classes.

      There are whole fields of study that I never would have had any clue about, except that I saw them in a course catalog when I was an undergrad and thought "what the hell, I'll take it." Economics, for example, is now a big interest of mine, and there's no way I would have taken it, if I had been just trying to bang out the minimum graduation requirements.

      I wish this guy the best, but I think he's driving too hard and too fast for specialization. Even for a patent attorney, having some concept for things outside your area of interest is a good idea. That doesn't mean you need to take twelve credits of Underwater Basketweaving, just that there are a lot of things that you can learn about (particularly a big school like UVA), and it's a shame to pass up those opportunities, as they're rather difficult to come by later.
      • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:54PM (#16148002) Homepage Journal

        Oh please. This kid just whizzed through college using precious little time and none of his own capital. I guarantee you that he understands more about economics than you do. Now this kid can pursue his own interests with his degree already in hand and the opportunities that come with a degree and a story that clearly manifests a strong work ethic.

        While you (and I) are floating through life trying to figure out what it is that we want, this kid is setting goals and achieving them. Even if his master plan isn't 100% perfect he's gotten his degree in a fifth of the time that it takes most people. He could spend the next 3 years backpacking in Peru and still be ahead.

        Good for him.

        • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:54PM (#16148542)
          a strong work ethic

          Yeah well, you know the old saying: "All work and no play makes Jack die frozen and alone in a giant hedge-maze."


      • by JBradley ( 147997 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:59PM (#16148045)
        I saw an interview with him last night on the local news. One thing mentioned in the interview (that wasn't discussed in the article) is that a primary motivation for him to finish school so quickly was a desire not to burden his parents or himself with any debt. He has younger brothers (can't remember the exact number) and didn't want the cost of his education to negatively effect their ability to go later. I am sure he missed out on a lot of the "college experience" but with the cost of tuition nowadays, not sure I blame his desire to get it over with as quickly/cheaply as possible.
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:10PM (#16147571) Homepage Journal
    His brief undergraduate career didn't leave him much time to explore college, so he's now working on his master's degree.
    Good for him! He seems a very bright person, and I'm sure he will do geat things.
    He says he may eventually pursue law school as a part-time student in hopes of becoming a patent lawyer.
    On the other hand...
  • by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:11PM (#16147583) Homepage
    .. he rushed through the technical stuff, and wants to jump into patent law.. sounds like a dig at the USPTO :) .. "I want to rush through stuff JUST LIKE THEM!".

    There is A LOT more to college than the degree, hell - for most people thats an afterthought.
  • I never did finish my degree, despite taking several extra years (part-time) attempting to complete courses. I did get pretty darn good at netrek [] however. My guess is his priorities are probably a tad different from mine.
  • 3 Credit Summer? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:12PM (#16147590) Homepage
    What a slacker! But before I get modded troll, let me just say that I think more students could be graduating a lot sooner if useful classes were offered during the summer. A lot of summer semesters get wasted when out of state kids can't afford to go home for the summer and don't have any classes worth taking either.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lostboy2 ( 194153 )
      Agreed. If classes were offered more frequently, that would have helped me, too.

      When I attended college, the university typically would offer the first class of a series only in the Fall quarter, the second class in the series only in the Winter quarter and the third class only in Spring quarter. If you could not take the first class in the chain in Fall (either because it conficted with another class, or because the class size was too large and you were denied the opportunity), then you'd have to wait an e
  • by PlatinumRiver ( 846268 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:12PM (#16147592)
    Many IV league schools no longer accept AP credits. They want you to get an education from THEIR institution. If you enroll into a school with 72 credits, about half of your university education doesn't even come from the university you attended. This is why many schools are following the examples of the IV league institutions.
  • by rossifer ( 581396 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:13PM (#16147599) Journal
    Part of the point of an undergraduate education is to be exposed to new ideas and concepts while you're establishing yourself in an environment separate from your parents and the babysitting culture of most secondary schools.

    Somehow, I don't think he got very much exposure to new ideas and concepts. He sounds like someone who's decided that whatever makes the most money is the best thing to do with your life.

  • What a shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:13PM (#16147607) Homepage
    It seems to me that this guys has missed the point of university. Yes, his feat is just short of miraculous and he is clearly a smart guys, but it sounds like he was there merely for the credential. Simply to get the degree. University is supposed to give someone a chance to explore the universes, or the parts that seem interesting. To experiment and experience things. Not to simply vacuum up credits. In a way, I am sorry for him.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TrekCycling ( 468080 )
      Same here. It's okay, though. When he's pulling 80 hour weeks trying to make partner by 23 and decides to finally take a drink of alcohol I think he's going to go psychotic. Maybe somewhere in there he'll figure out how to relax a little.
  • missing crack (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrSquirrel ( 976630 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:13PM (#16147612)
    So that's where neighbor's missing supply of crack went!
    Sounds a bit odd to me -- where I go to school, many of the course plans are layered, so you have to take a lot of pre-requisites... I don't know if he got them waived via AP credit or what, but even in my last two semesters (I graduate in May, hurrah) I'm still knee-deep in 400 level classes that I have to take before I can take other 400 level classes.

    Also, I think he missed the college experience. College doesn't teach you as much book-wise as it does real-life-wise: living on your own, those 3 a.m. conversations about philisophy with your friends, boobies... I'm taking 18 credit hours and working only 24 hours a week and I still have trouble finding time for fun... this kid is either a robot or has no social life (I don't "party" or drink, so I'm already "unsocial" to some people).
  • What he missed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:14PM (#16147616) Journal
    Okay. 37 credits your spring semester. That's pretty much 9 AM to 5 PM in class, five days a week. Add in study time and prep time plus time to do assignemnts, and (judging by what I did carrying 15 credits at Penn State) he was working an additional 6+ hours a night, seven nights a week, for his classes. That's it. That was his life for a year.

    See, to me, college was about learning first and foremost, about obtaining a well-rounded academic education. The key here is "well-rounded." If you're literally spending 13-14 hours a day on class, what else are you doing? Nothing. That's not well-rounded. This kid missed out on everything that makes college, college. Friends, relaxing...hell, dorm floor-wide LAN matches in CS and UT99 (as in my case). Oh, and football. Sweet, sweet football. On the other hand, I can guarantee you that he did nothing but eat, sleep, work, and study.

    I'll take a party here and there and some video games, please. I would not do what this kid did, nor would I consider it, or consider letting my children (someday) do it. It's just flat out not worth it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MindStalker ( 22827 )
      When I really think about it, thats most of what was expected in High School, that you spend all your days and nights in school or studying (not that is what I did, just what was expected). Continue this life for just one more extra year, and you've got 3 years left to party! Not a bad plan if you ask me! :)
    • Re:What he missed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:48PM (#16147947)
      I'm pissed that there's so much animosity towards people who choose to spend most of their studying. I admit, I know some self-hating schoolaholics (those who study all day just because they can't think of anything better to do). However, a lot of the people who "waste their lives" studying most of the day end up being people who submit dozens of patents every year, publish influential papers, and greatly expand the sphere of human knowledge and understanding.

      I don't think it's fair to say "it's not worth it," because to a lot of people, contributing something meaningful to society is far more important than self-gratification. Just because 95% of the people going to college think it is for their personal benefit does not mean the remaining 5% should share the same view.

      And hey, for the most part, I'm in your boat. I waste a lot of time playing video games, watching TV, and hanging out with friends. But I greatly admire those who choose to sacrifice all of that to come up with all of the innovations that allow us to live such a life of leisure. Those people deserve our respect, not our pity.

  • He says he may eventually pursue law school as a part-time student in hopes of becoming a patent lawyer."
    Let's just hope that his career is as short as his studies were.
  • Another soul lost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brejc8 ( 223089 ) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:17PM (#16147643) Homepage Journal
    I have spent some time demonstrating to undergrads engineering courses and several times I have seen some amazing students who take to the subject really well. They don't do perticulaly well in the other courses but they seem to enjoy this the course and they go beyond what is expected of them. Then at the end I ask them if they are going to do the engineering modules next year because they will be practically guaranteed top marks in those too and they say no because they want to: Write web pages for a living, Become lawers because they heard that pays well, Knows someone who works with Java and so will take only very soft modules (despite the fact that they failed the java module).
    This guy has some real potential, he could change the world, he could discover some fantastic advancements for the good of human kind, but no. He wants to be a lawyer.
  • by thoolie ( 442789 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:17PM (#16147646)
    Not to troll, but I found that throughout my college career, not only did I get an education, but being in a constant social/acedemic environment for four years helped me develop as a person (I think the same is true for many folks). Finishing college in one year seems to really get the acedemic part, but it must limit how much you are able to grow as a social being.

    Although, he double majored in physics and math....probable not much of a need to be a social being (and this is coming from an EE with a minor in Mathematics.... :)
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:19PM (#16147667) Homepage Journal
    as I did with mine. I intentionally stayed in college 6 years*(1.5 of those were spent doing internships) because I wanted to explore everything there was. My AP credits allowed me to get a lot of stuff out of the way so I could explore. I took an internship at a steel mill and worked at an R&D Lab in Japan. I majored in computer engineering and minored in math and Japanese, and actually took a lot of other classes that I didn't have to take because I thought they were interesting. I have something like 32 credits that don't really "count" as it were, for my degree. I am sure as hell glad I took them though because I will probably never get another chance to take a class in world music or Japanese literature.

    Those sure as hell don't help me on my job or in grad school next year, but I really felt like they helped me grow as a human being.
  • 135? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aleksiel ( 678251 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:19PM (#16147670)
    christ, i graduated with a single major (computer engineering) and i had to take 140 credits. all he had to take was 135 for two.

    where's my second degree? :(
  • by otacon ( 445694 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:20PM (#16147674)
    Apparently he didn't have enough time for a minor in female anatomy.
  • by monopole ( 44023 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:23PM (#16147701)
    About one of my friends with a Math/Comp.Sci./Pol.Sci. who went on to be a very good patent attorney. "How anybody who understands math would go into law!"
  • No fair. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:25PM (#16147716) Homepage Journal
    I envy him coming from a school system that allowed him to get 72 AP credits. My high school, and every alternative within an hours drive, offered a grand total of SIX AP courses (including Music Theory, wtf?). They required you to take the class before you could take the test. And every one of them had pre-requisites within the normal high school curriculum, making all 6 an impossible combination.

    I am also a bit skeptical about getting through all of college in what amounts to, at most, 5 'layers' of prerequisites, and that would be assuming he brought in two courses worth of AP credits in a particular subject (common at most institutions, a 5 on my AP Calculus exam got me credit for Calc I and Calc II), took another level of course in the fall and spring, and then took the final one as his single 3-hour summer course. All 3 of th universities I have attended had pre-requisite trees deeper than that for almost any normal degree, and more of them than would fit in his schedule anyways.
  • by Hahnsoo ( 976162 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:25PM (#16147718)
    The double major in Physics and Math is a pretty smart choice, if I were to "twink" my college education like that. Most institutions allow AP credit to qualify for non-major related prerequisites (so you can focus on the "good stuff" instead of all that well-rounded stuff) and thus most of his high school AP credits may apply. A typical Math and/or Physics degree focuses on multiple subdisciplines that can be studied concurrently rather than in sequence. And, of course, a person with an aptitude in Math will find the coursework easy to digest and easy to take tests for (which inevitably involve solving problems rehashed in the coursework rather than coming up with novel solutions or proofs). In other words, if I was powerleveling through college (which is what he did), that's probably the route I would have taken.
    Of course, with this current toon, I took the other route and only had 12 credit hour semesters and took a lot of extra-curricular cultural classes in music, literature, and sociology. Sometimes life is better when you stop and smell the roses.
  • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:26PM (#16147726) Journal
    ...burns half as long? I worry about people who are so task oriented. I bet the guy gets anxious when he isn't working towards a deadline and has some free time.
  • by LotsOfPhil ( 982823 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:27PM (#16147737)
    If the coursework was that unchallenging to him, how did it take him until he was 18 to get through high school?
  • by dlevitan ( 132062 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:29PM (#16147760)
    After reading the article, I felt like I had a similar sort of high school experience as him (though not as crazy as him). I came to college with 48 AP credits, plus 8 from college courses. Technically speaking, I could've graduated in a year or two. But there's no point.

    First, the physics/mathematics combination is not hard to do. At least where I went to school a physics major only needed a few more classes to get a math degree (because so much was required for physics). Second, I don't think one can truly appreciate physics by doing it all in one year. I doubt he took very many advanced courses. I learned a lot in intro physics (I had AP credit, but declined it to take an honors intro course) that I never learned in high school. And it always takes me a while to truly appreciate a subject. Not just one year. Plus I doubt he got much research experience in.

    I'm sure he's a smart person and talented, but there are plenty of people like that out there. If he had tried doing that at a place like Caltech or MIT, I doubt it would've worked. Plus I actually enjoyed taking distribution classes because they gave me an interesting perspective I hadn't known before. In fact, I wish I had taken more of them.

    Regardless, if you're thinking of doing this, don't. If you're that smart, go to a better school, spend the money, and be really challenged like this guy never was.
  • You're all wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fysiks Wurks ( 949375 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:34PM (#16147803)
    This guy hasn't missed the point of going to college. He got it right. He's taking advantage of the TIME VALUE OF MONEY. Facing the extreme price increases in tuition why not take as many transferable AP classes as you can. Then if you get someone else to pay for your collage that's even better. And instead of wasting 4 years of valuable time (where you could be making money instead of forking it over the university, landlords, beer vendors, or pot dealers you can get on with life and start doing what you want. The more you earn/invest today, the better off you will be tomorrow. The less debt you have today, the more you will have tomorrow.

    Universities have become a money making shell game...they require you to take a load of irrelevant course work (to broaden your horizons) at over $300/credit then they offer limited sections of these classes which delays your graduation a semester or two. Yeah, the university has your educational interests at heart.
  • by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:37PM (#16147834)
    What math/physics degree allows you to graduate with only 120 credits, 72 of them things that can even be counted from AP exams?

    My engineering degree took 200 credit hours, including about 45 that I entered college with. Taking 37 hours in a semester would save you... half a year over my normal course load.

    I mean, so AP can cover your intro pretty much everything... meaning that few of his classes were actually something high level AKA possibly challenging? I had a year and a half worth of math courses beyond what you can get with all possible AP credits.

    I mean, awesome for him... but what the heck is the university even teaching in a degree that short?

  • by bziman ( 223162 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:44PM (#16147895) Homepage Journal

    I knew, the second I saw the headline, that it was a TJ [] grad. I could have easily spent another year at TJ after my senior year, and learned a hell of a lot more than I did during my first year (or two) of college. In fact, in my time at TJ (where I specialized in Physics), I learned more about computer science in passing than I have at the two universities I've attended for most of the past ten years (including a CS degree).

    I'll be the first one to admit that chances are he missed out on a lot of fun college life, but sometimes you just have to do something "because you can". He's smart, and I'm sure he'll spend the next three or four years in grad school and law school, and he'll find time to have a little bit of fun while he's at it.

    Congratulations to him, and remember, just because he's smarter than you (academically) is no reason to try and take away from his accomplishments just to make you feel better about yourself.

    --brian, TJ '96

  • by Fr05t ( 69968 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @02:44PM (#16147902)
    Just imagine how fast this guy will blow through the McDonald's training materials! He's got Assistant night shift supervisor written all over him...
  • by Tweekster ( 949766 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:44PM (#16148429)
    I actually take pity on this kid. He was in such a hurry to get "to the next thing" he completely missed college.

    Sad honestly. College is a nice 4-5 years of your life of with barely any responsibility and a hell of a lot of fun. What is waiting for you after college. Answer: a career, have fun with that for the next 50 or so years of your life, i dont think putting that on hold for a year is gonna matter much in the end.
  • by Avatar8 ( 748465 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:53PM (#16148530)
    Is this a society-changing behavior that we're seeing more often in many different disciplines?

    Parallel comparison: I'm in Toastmasters ( []), an international organization promoting communcation and leadership skills. There's an educational program that takes an average person about five-seven years to compete. Numerically it boils down to about 55 speeches, a major project in leadership and mentoring about 23 people. The first part (10 speeches) takes about one to one and a half years. I felt like I raced through it in 10 months, but later I heard about someone really racing through it in 10 weeks. I met that person and discovered that they had definitely missed the point. He was not a skilled speaker at all and could barely understand all of the meeting roles or the opportunities for service to the organization beyond the club level yet he had achieved the first level of education.

    Indirect comparison: World of Warcraft power-levelers (or any game with specific goals). The people who play a single character to level 60 and they're "done." They quit and state "I've seen and done it all." Completely missed the point. The game, like school or professional organizations, is comprised of a great deal more than a simple ladder for reaching the "top." These people miss out on so much content, relationships and experience. I'd compare them to someone who goes to a buffet, tries a single bite of each item and calls that dinner.

    Where is this coming from? Has our sense of achievement been condensed to "do the minimum requirement as fast as possible?" I guess it's the opposite end of the spectrum of people, companies and communities that are so laid back that they see no reason to change anything at all ever.

    I am envious of Banh that he obviously has a high IQ and the ability to absorb a great deal of information quickly, though I wonder how long he can retain it. Patent lawyer? What a waste of a good brain.

Given its constituency, the only thing I expect to be "open" about [the Open Software Foundation] is its mouth. -- John Gilmore