By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Boy, 12, attending NGCSU
Student from Forsyth ready for challenge
Forsyth County resident Alex Beach begins classes today at North Georgia College & State University. At 12, hes the youngest person to attend the college since 1997. - photo by Autumn McBride

At just 2 years old, Alex Beach began reading textbooks.

His mother, Melinda Beach, knew it was time to take him to get an intelligence test.

The Forsyth County mother recalled how the examiners asked her son to select two playing cards from a variety spread out across the floor.

Alex Beach named the "2" and the "5," receiving cooing, baby-like praise from the testers.

Melinda Beach said her son then stared at them and began forming more impressive number combinations and mathematical equations.

"They said, ‘He shouldn’t be able to do all this,’" she said.

Ten years later, it’s no surprise to her that her 12-year-old son will start his first day of college today at North Georgia College & State University.

Alex Beach will be the youngest student to attend the college since at least 1997, NGCSU computerized records show.

He shouldn’t have any issue achieving educational success. But age aside, the social atmosphere may be a bit of a challenge.

During testing at age 2, Alex Beach was also diagnosed with autism, which makes social situations and mannerisms more of a challenge, his mother said.

"Even at 2, you could tell he was very brilliant, but he couldn’t call me ‘mom,’" she said. "He couldn’t say, ‘I want milk.’ He knew what milk was, but he couldn’t say the basic little things."

Melinda Beach said she worked with her son to help him learn whatever subjects he wanted to in an attempt to satisfy his endless quest for knowledge.

"I could tell he had the desire and just took it and went with it," she said, adding that their home’s large glass window would often be painted with whatever subject was of interest that week.

Her son excelled in school, where he never skipped a grade, but rather completed several within a normal school year.

He recently graduated from Eaton Academy in Roswell.

Though prepared intellectually to enter the higher education world at 10, he had always planned to begin his university career in 2011, since 11 is his favorite number.

"It’s so easy to multiply by," Alex Beach said.

Math and science are his favorite subjects, though he also enjoys learning languages.

He is also well-versed in Latin and on his way to becoming fluent in Japanese.

He plans to ease into his new life at the campus by taking just one history course during the summer semester.

History is not his favorite subject, and he sounded like a typical college student when he said "that way I can get it over with."

Melinda Beach said her son still got excited when he received a historical book in a comic format.

Like many 12-year-old boys, Alex Beach enjoys comic books, cartoons and video games, and isn’t a fan of homework.

He does enjoy learning, his mother said, and that drive keeps the more difficult challenges of his autism at bay.

"Alex gets really excited when he learns," she said. "The professors really enjoy it because most people don’t get quite that excited."

On the flip side, Alex Beach added, "I need to stop yawning when I’m bored."

At NGCSU, he should fit in well in his quest for knowledge with the other students, said Richard Oates, assistant vice president for academic affairs.

Despite his young age, Oates said Alex Beach was admitted with the same academic requirements as anyone else.

"We don’t really don’t have an age limit for folks who want to learn," he said.