The 10-Year-Old Math Prodigy Attending College

by Alicia Lu

Your typical kid dreams about getting a puppy or meeting SpongeBob, but Esther Okade is not your typical kid. At just 6 years old, she was already taking her maths GCSE, generally undertaken by 14- to 16-year-olds in the United Kingdom, and getting a C (which, by the by, is what I got when I was taking high school math at a high school age). Now, 10-year-old Esther Okade is enrolled in a university math course and getting straight A's as one of the youngest undergraduate students in the country.

When you first hear about a young child taking courses well beyond their age level, you might suspect pressuring parents to be behind the situation — a tiger mom, maybe? In British-Nigerian Esther's case, it was the opposite. Though her mom, Omonefe "Efe" Okade, is a mathematician, going to university was entirely Esther's idea. Efe told the Daily Mail:

From the age of seven Esther has wanted to go to university. But I was afraid it was too soon. She would say, "Mum, when am I starting?", and go on and on and on. Finally, after three years she told me, "Mum, I think it is about time I started university now."

So in January, at the ripe old age of 10, Esther enrolled at Open University, a distance learning college, where she is acing a course that many 18-year-olds would struggle with. But a glimpse at Esther's lifelong determination, and it's really not surprising that the girl has achieved so much in just 10 years.

Esther Has Learned Everything At Home

Esther, who is from Walsall, an industrial town in West Midlands, and her younger brother have always been home-schooled by their mathematician mother, who converted their living room into a classroom.

She's Always Been Ahead Of The Curve

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Efe Okade says that her daughter really started to show a knack for math at the age of 4, when she was already a wiz at algebra and quadratic equations. She told the Daily Mail:

By the time she was four I had taught her the alphabet, her numbers, and how to add, subtract, multiply and division.

I saw that she loved patterns so developed a way of using that to teach her new things. I thought I would try her with algebra, and she loved it more than anything.

After receiving a C grade on her maths GCSE at the age of 6, Esther went back to take it again the next year and got an A.

She Genuinely Loves Math

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Perhaps what is most inspiring about Esther's story is that she's not taking advanced math courses simply because she can; she's doing it because she sincerely wants to. Math is her passion the same way sports or music is for other kids. She told CNN:

[The course is] so interesting. It has the type of maths I love. It's real maths — theories, complex numbers, all that type of stuff. It was super easy. My mum taught me in a nice way.

She Wants To Help Other Kids

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Besides becoming one of the youngest college students in history, Esther is also writing a series of math workbooks for kids called Yummy Yummy Algebra. Esther explained the series to CNN:

It starts at a beginner level — that's volume one. But then there will be volume two, and volume three, and then volume four. But I've only written the first one.

As long as you can add or subtract, you'll be able to do it. I want to show other children they are special.

She Has Big Career Goals

Esther told CNN about her dream of opening a bank.

I want to (finish the course) in two years. Then I'm going to do my PhD in financial maths when I'm 13. I want to have my own bank by the time I'm 15 because I like numbers and I like people and banking is a great way to help people.

Most 15-year-olds don't know what a checking account is, and Esther is determined to own her own bank by that age. Given how much she's accomplished already, however, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see a bank in her name in five years. Images: The Daily Mail, Getty Images (3)