College Without High School by Blake Bole


This website was created to promote Blake Bole's book, College Without High School.
Content is from the site's 2009 -2010 archived pages.

A teenager's guide to skipping high school and going to college

What would you do if you could go to college without high school?

Would you travel abroad, spend late nights writing a novel, volunteer in an emergency room, or build your own company? What dreams would you be pursuing, right now?

College Without High School is a book for teens who want to pursue their dreams outside of high school, while keeping the option of attending a 4-year college or university.

College Without High School is a guidebook for teens who are bored or frustrated with high school. In it you’ll learn how to define your dreams, replace school with adventure, and and still go to a top-choice college.

Did you know:

Gaining admission to college (from state universities to the Ivy Leagues) doesn’t require a high school diploma, transcript, or four years of classes?

You can use self-designed teenage adventures like international volunteering, internships, and independent research to prove college preparation?

Praise for College Without High School:

"Words fail me. This is the most inspiring, convincing, and practical case for self-directed learning that I've seen in many years. Mr. Boles draws on time management principles from the business world and on his own adventure-packed youth to map out a brilliantly simple way that people can live life to the fullest while also preparing masterfully for admission to college. If you believe, as I do, that our time on earth is a grand gift not to be squandered, then buy this book for all the teenagers you love, and watch as all manner of quests, discoveries, inventions, and miracles emerge."

Grace Llewellyn, author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook: how to quit school and get a real life and education and Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School Tell Their Own Stories

"Blake Boles has found the solution for those students who find regular high school oppressive. Outstanding advice! His book is absolutely right on about the many options for success for students who have a little different approach to life and study."

Donald Asher, author of Cool Colleges For the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming, and Just Plain Different

"College Without High School is an excellent update to the groundwork provided by John Holt, the Colfaxes, Grace Llewellyn, and other unschoolers. I found it engaging and filled with concrete understanding and useful suggestions for Self Directed Learners of all ages, in or out of school."

Cafi Cohen, author of And What About College?: How homeschooling leads to admissions to the best colleges and universities

"Blake Boles shares what homeschoolers have known for decades: teens are thriving everywhere without attending school! Blake will inspire you to seize the day and live well now, with every bit of confidence that the doors to college will be wide open to you. I am thrilled to have another messenger trumpet the truth that school is optional. I recommend all parents and educators to acquaint themselves with this information."

Kenneth Danford, co-founder and executive director of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

"This splendid book is intended as a step-by-step guide, but can be read with profit by anyone interested in moral philosophy. Exceptionally clear, insightful, and lively, it will take its place as the definitive work on the subject."

John Taylor Gatto, author of Dumbing Us Down, The Underground History of American Education, and Weapons of Mass Instruction

"Boles offers an antidote to the over-scheduled, grade-driven, and sadly uncreative existence of most high-schoolers today. Not completing high school does not relegate you to a life around only janitorial supplies and maintainence products. Life is much more than classes and exams and it's time for teens to take control of their own education. Yes, they must learn the basics. Absolutely. But as Boles explains, self-motivated teens can cover those topics efficiently and free up more of their time for further learning. This book is a crucial guide for students and parents interested in replacing the old carrot and stick that's at the heart of today's education system with intrinsic motivation--self-directedness and autonomy that leads to real learning and growth."

Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and The Adventures Of Johnny Bunko

"College Without High School is a fantastic resource for homeschoolers who want to stand out from the rest of the college admissions pack. However, especially for unschoolers and other eclectic learners, it is also an inspirational description for how adventurous self-directed learning can lead to college admission. This is an entertaining workbook, how-to manual, and educational philosophy text that will help teenagers and their families figure out how to get into college without a conventional high school degree."

Patrick Farenga, co-author of Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling


About Blake Boles

Blake Boles realized halfway through an astrophysics major that school and education are not the same thing.
Blake runs Unschool Adventures, a company that leads innovative trips for self-directed teens. He is the former acting director of Deer Crossing Summer Camp, an advisor to unschooled teens at Not Back to School Camp, a Wilderness First Responder and a UC Berkeley graduate.




News updates are no longer being posted on this webpage -- please check the Facebook page or for news.

10/21/09: Book Release Party in San Francisco at Modern Times Bookstore!

10/15/09: MacLean's article: "University without high school"



9/3/09: Interview on Everyday Learning Magazine.

University without high school

This alternative-education advice (including how to get parents onside) is aimed at teens

by Julia McKinnell on Thursday, October 15, 2009 1:20pm -

University without high school

“Choosing to leave [high] school is an entrepreneurial move, not a cop-out” is the message of a new book aimed at teens, College Without High School. The author, Blake Boles, the co-founder of Unschool Adventures, writes, “Life is not a pyramid with doctors, lawyers and professors on the top, McDonald’s cashiers at the bottom and school the only ladder between.”

What does a high-schooler “who slaves away at meaningless disconnected problem sets every night become in later life?” he asks. “She becomes an adult who slaves away at a job she doesn’t enjoy, for less money than she deserves, for a one-week vacation through which she would prefer to sleep.” Boles’s book offers teens step-by-step advice on how to drop out of high school to tag tree frogs in Costa Rica or teach basic computer skills in Tanzania. It also shows how to condense schoolwork to meet admission requirements for university later on.

Boles studied astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, but left after hitting an “intellectual wall: quantum mechanics.” A book by New York high school teacher John Gatto inspired him to rethink his path. “I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my 25 years of teaching,” wrote Gatto, and that was “that schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders.”

To legally leave school, “the quickest, easiest ticket to freedom” is to become a homeschooler,” writes Boles. However, “I don’t advocate becoming a home-schooler in the common misconception of the word. I don’t want you to stay home all day, following the prescribed 10th grade curriculum and cut yourself off from the world.”

Instead of wasting time in a classroom, shuffling around hallways, Boles believes that academic material can be learned in a fraction of the time through online courses, tutors or auditing classes. “Common sense tells you to give yourself plenty of time to get an important task done. Forget common sense in this case. To tackle a big project, begin by giving yourself an unreasonably small time quota.” He suggests students keep their schoolwork hours to a minimum. “If you can learn chemistry in eight weeks at four hours per week instead of 30 weeks at eight hours per week, do it. A short deadline is superior to a long one because it has the psychological effect of making you do more work. This is Parkinson’s law: work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Do an internship with a small business, he suggests; the book even includes a script to follow when calling a business owner. Say, “Hi, my name is . . . I would like to do what you do and I want to help. There are a few specific things I want to learn but my first priority is assisting your business in any way I can.”

Wichita State University student Jenny Bowen dropped out of high school in the ninth grade to pursue her interest in ornithology. Boles reports that Jenny became an online authority in parrot forums, enlisted as a zoo volunteer and then interned for three years at an exotic animal veterinary clinic. In 2006, “with little more than a homemade unschooling transcript and ACT score, Jenny applied to and entered Wichita State as a pre-veterinary biology major.”

For other “unschoolers” who want to go to university, Boles advises calling undergraduate admissions and asking if the school has any specific admissions requirements or advice for home-schooling students. “Be sure to track your progress with documentation. In the language of college admissions: if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen.”

At the University of Toronto, for instance, home-schooled students are welcomed, though they are recommended to “consult with us well in advance since an individual assessment of your qualifications will be necessary.” U of T does not require a high school diploma but does want to see results of standardized tests such as SAT 1 and 11.

“Unschoolers aren’t Einstein-like geniuses,” Boles writes. “They’re normal teens who, unsatisfied with school’s plan for their future, chose to get an education on their own terms.” As for getting parents onside, Boles says he tells teens to find other local unschooling parents. “Seeing at least one real-life unschooling family helps parents for whom the concept is scary. There are definitely Canadian teen unschoolers. I know a lot of them in the Vancouver area. Join a Facebook unschooling group and ask around.”



9/21/09: Interview with Maya Frost, author of The New Global Student, on Converge Magazine.



College Without High School: An Interview With Blake Boles/h3>

3 September 2009
clocktowerContrary to what the local guidance counselor might have you believe,  a high school diploma is not always necessary to go to college.  In fact, you need not step foot onto a high school campus in order to find yourself roaming the grounds of the university of your choice. According to Blake Boles, author of “College Without High School: A Teenager’s Guide to Skipping High School and Going to College,” it is perfectly possible to make yourself an attractive candidate for an admissions office without sitting through History101.

If you think that means sitting on the couch, playing video games or constantly updating your Facebook page is going to get you into the school of your dreams, think again. Teens who want to bypass traditional high school will need to plan and research their way into college.

While the requirements differ from school to school, many private universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (which does not require a high school diploma) are happy to look at alternatives to a traditional high school education.  Boles, who runs the company Unschool Adventures, says there are five main attributes an admission officer looks for in a prospective student.

“Focus on results rather than volume,” he suggests. “Traditional high schoolers are more focused on pumping out volume. You know, GPA, SAT, community service; just doing more and more and sacrificing their lives in the process. I argue for showing the specific results that colleges want to see.”

Unschooled or homeschooled teens who want to prepare for college need to cultivate themselves in five areas, says Boles. They need to show internal passion, leadership, logical reasoning, a capacity for structured learning and background knowledge.

Boles suggests teens take classes at a local community college, which can show background knowledge, structured learning and logical reasoning. You need not take a full load each semester; a handful can show your ability to understand the material and fulfill the requirements. Teens can also prove their knowledge by studying for the SAT, CLEP or SAT subject tests.

Just don’t give yourself too long a period of time to prepare.

“Give yourself two weeks to study for that test,” he says. “It forces you to choose the practice problems in that CLEP testbook that are the most difficult for you. Hit your weakest spots. Get it done, don’t dawdle on the computer. Get it out of your mental space so you can enjoy the stuff that makes unschool worth it, not these little college prep hurdles.”

What to do when not studying for a standardized test? Get out and live life, says Boles, who is 26 and was traditionally schooled.  He knows of teenagers who spend their time on internships, jobs, individual studies or travel. A wannabe veternarian might volunteer at a teen program at the zoo or help out at the local animal shelter. A future business student might start their own yard service while a hopeful botanist might volunteer as a WWOOFer (world wide opportunities on organic farms) for several months. Interested in history? Study the Holocaust, Puritans or Ancient Egypt– just keep a reading list of all that you do.

Just don’t stay at home all day, busying yourself with the computer and television.

“If you are spending your homeschooling days at home in front of the computer or the TV, then maybe you are missing out on something, because you are not taking full advantage of your opportunities as a self directed student,” he says. “Get the heck out of the house and go find the people who are doing the same stuff that interests you, especially those who are doing it for money. Those are the people who are engaged in the real work in the world. Go volunteer for someone, go propose an internship or go get hired.”

8/30/09: BOOK RELEASE! Find your copy now at or

7/20/09: Blog interview on Self Made Scholar.

6/29/09: Interview on Relaxed Homeskool Talk Radio