Meet 12-year-old Jeremy Shuler: The youngest ever Ivy League student

He beat me in calculus and I’ve been going to school longer than he’s been alive

Cornell can be an imposing place at times. Lecture halls are named after Nobel Laureates and banners are strewn across sports halls celebrating our latest contributions to Olympic teams. It often can feel like you’re a small fish in a big pond, or rather in Lake Cayuga. But of all of the claims to fame that Cornell has, the most curious one is that just three rows in front me in a multivariable calculus class, there’s a 12-year-old boy called Jeremy Shuler.

Jeremy is a bit of a celebrity, and he likes it like that. Jeremy is possibly Cornell’s youngest ever student, and he’s certainly the youngest currently in the Ivy League, something current Cornellians like to pride themselves on. Countless conversations have started with “the 12-year-old is in my computer science class” or “Jeremy was in my prelim last night.”

So we know what Cornell thinks of Jeremy, but what does Jeremy think of Cornell?

“Pretty good. I mean the physics is pretty challenging. The math is pretty easy. Computer science and linguistics are very easy. I like the linguistics.” I don’t think anybody is too surprised to hear that Jeremy finds most of his classes easy, and he’s got the results to prove it to. He beat me in the calculus prelim even though I’ve been going to school for longer than he’s been alive. What’s the hardest thing about Cornell so far? “The physics prelim,” he says. But Jeremy is doing honors level physics. Not even I am brave enough to do that.

Original photo of Jeremy Shuler, Cornell University's 12-year-old student

So Jeremy’s academics are going well, but what about his social life? It must be hard for a 12-year-old to make lots of friends when the rest of us are all 18 and over. When I spoke to Jeremy he was sitting with another freshman girl. When asked if he had made lots of friends he casually replied: “yeah,” and shared a laugh with his friend. Maybe an inside joke, it definitely looked like Jeremy had settled into Cornell well.

I wondered if he had left many friends behind in Texas. Just friends in the AwesomeMath summer camp he did in his home state.

“None of my friends from Texas are in Texas anymore. They’re in California or other places,” he says. Jeremy also lamented the fact the math circles he used to visit back home in Texas only took place every few months instead of every Saturday and he didn’t see his friends as much as he had liked. But Jeremy does keep in contact with friends from home: “I’ve got some math friends I email.”

Since Jeremy is starting university so young, he’ll be graduating by the time he is 16. Most of us were halfway through high school at that age. But Jeremy has a plan for what he wants to do once he has his degree in engineering physics. “Go to graduate school, and go to a PhD program and then after that become a professor, or a researcher.” Jeremy also said he wanted to get his PhD in “something sciency.” It’s entirely possible that by the time Jeremy is 22 – the age the rest of us get our bachelor’s degree – he will be Doctor Jeremy. Next time you need help on your problem set, he’s the man to go to.

How does Jeremy feel that he’s the youngest student at Cornell and in the Ivy League?

“Yeah, pretty well. I like being a bit of a celebrity.”

Yeah, you’re definitely a bit of a celebrity around here.