Teenage applicants from as far afield as India and Mongolia are catching western colleges’ attention by taking so-called “massive online open courses” designed for older students.
Schoolchildren taking courses on their own initiative already account for about 5 per cent of the 800,000 students at edX, the non-profit online venture founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Some have used their results to apply to the colleges that pioneered MOOCs.
Amol Bhave, a 17-year-old from Jabalpur, India, learnt last week that he had been accepted to MIT after scoring 97 per cent on edX’s circuits and electronics course. He received the good news on March 14 – or “pi day”, as he put it in a Skype conversation with the FT.
“I am like the first person in my city to get into MIT ever so I have become sort of pretty famous,” he said. “I was so motivated by how we were taught [by edX] that I decided that maybe I belong to MIT after all.”