Malvika Raj Joshi's family decided to "unschool" her, and she dropped out of formal schooling in India when she was in the equivalent of seventh grade. But she continued to take part in international computer science competitions, and apparently she did well—because, despite her lack of a high school diploma, the 17-year-old from Mumbai was recently accepted to MIT's computer science program. Mashable reports that she's won two silver medals and one bronze over the past three years at the International Olympiad of Informatics.
As for why her family pulled her out of school, her mom tells the Indian Express, "Malvika was doing well in school but somehow I felt that my children need to be happy. Happiness is more important than conventional knowledge." The teen started focusing her efforts on computer programming and mathematics. "Suddenly I saw that my daughter was so happy," her mom says. "She was learning more than ever—from the time she woke up to the time she was off to sleep. Knowledge became a passion." (Read more uplifting news stories.)