At the age of 15, Jacob Bradd is UOW’s youngest ever full-time undergraduate student.
By age 18, Jacob will likely have completed his Bachelor of Mathematics when most of his age group are passing driver licence tests and thinking about life after high school.
He became UOW’s youngest ever undergraduate student last year when he started a Bachelor of Mathematics at the age of 14. He’s successfully completed his first year of study and settling in well to university life, where most of his classmates are at least three years his senior.
Jacob attended the Cordeaux Heights campus of the Illawarra Christian College and at age 13 he was one of the youngest students to sit the NSW Higher School Certificate in maths extension 1 and 2.
His father, UOW hydrogeologist Dr John Bradd, said Jacob’s interest in math began when he and his wife Trish, a speech pathologist, expressed concerns about whether he was ready for school in the year before he started school.
Dr Bradd took time off work to help his son prepare for school with what he thought would be basic tutoring.
“He just seemed to understand the basic maths operations,” Dr Bradd said. “One morning I said to Jacob, ‘there’s another operation to go, division, and it’s a little bit harder so we’ll come back to it later’.
“Next morning he said ‘Dad, I’m ready’ and he took to it fairly quickly. By third class he was doing calculus and I’d just about reached the limit of what I could teach him.”
“We never pushed him. If ever he said he couldn’t handle it or looked like he was struggling I would have stopped immediately. We also make sure he keeps up with his friends from school so his social life doesn’t suffer.
“We always allow him to be who he is and as long as he’s happy, we’re happy.”
Jacob finds it difficult to explain where his aptitude for maths comes from.
“It’s a gift…but I feel that everyone has some sort of gift,” he said. “I’ll be looking at a problem for a while and then something happens and I just understand it. In some way I feel energised by maths, it’s exciting to learn.”
Jacob told the Sydney Morning Herald he preferred university learning to high school.
“At university they get you to actually learn things yourself, instead of school where they tell you everything and get you to do it a certain way,” he said.
He’s already looking at broadening his horizons with interests in information technology, computer science and English.
To be considered for entry to UOW, students who are under 17 and who are exceptionally academically gifted, must provide evidence of their ability, undertake an external examination (Special Tertiary Admissions Test), provide referee details and attend interviews with senior academic and support staff.