14-year-old becomes youngest full-time physics student in history at a Ohio university

BW 14 yo student
BW 14 yo student
Posted at 10:59 AM, Jan 13, 2023

BEREA, OH — Age is certainly just a number for one middle schooler taking on college at Baldwin Wallace University. At 14 years old, he is the youngest full-time student in the university’s history.

But if you ask William Warren, this is not a special story, and he is not a special kid. He says this is a story of a kid who finally felt seen and was encouraged to do more to make something of his passion in physics.

“I really had that joy of problem-solving and being curious and asking questions,” he said.

Though like many kids, Warren struggled to stay motivated in school.

“In the beginning, school was great for me, but as it went on, I really just lost a lot of that curiosity,” he explained. “Any outside observer would just be like he’s just a regular kid because I didn’t really care about grades so much because I was so disconnected from it at that.”

That is until COVID. Warren started homeschooling and took Harvard University physics and chemistry classes online.

"That led me to Professor Meyer because I was looking for somebody to ask questions to. [That’s] really what I had always wanted. He really saw the potential in me, I think, and everything kind of developed from there," he said.

Ed Meyer, who refers to himself as a coach rather than a professor, says he knew right away Warren was gifted.

“A lot of students I don’t think have the opportunity to reach their potential because they’re not challenged. If you give a student a hard problem, the difference is some students treat it like an unpleasant duty and he treats it like an opportunity to learn, and that’s the key to success,” Meyer said.

At age 13, Warren sat in Meyer’s freshman physics class, and well, he did really good. So, after a nudge from Meyer and talks with his mom, Warren took the SAT and enrolled at Baldwin Wallace. Now a year older, he has finished his first semester as a full-time student with a 4.0.

“This kind of fell into my lap and I’m really glad the way things worked out you know? I’m doing my passion and I’m trying to perfect my craft and be the best that I can be," Warren said.

Warren is excited to pursue a career in physics, but he is determined to help young students like him by helping change how kids learn and making a way for classes to be more engaging and less standardized.

“I feel like there are so many gifted kids with untapped potential,” he said. “The best thing is not losing that spark in the beginning.”

This article was written by Taneisha Cordell for WEWS.