College Without High School

In "College Without High School", Blake Boles shows how independent teens can self-design their high school education by pursuing goals through meaningful adventures.


| April 2013


College Without High School (New Society Publishers, 2009) shows how teens can pursue alternatives to their high school education by becoming unschooled. Students begin by defining their goals and dreams and then pursue them through a combination of meaningful and engaging adventures. Blake Boles shows how to fulfill college admission requirements by proving five preparatory results: intellectual passion, leadership, logical reasoning, background knowledge, and the capacity for structured learning. He then offers several suggestions for life-changing, confidence-building adventures that will demonstrate those results.  

Results Over Volume   

First, a thought experiment. Two students compete for the same seat at a top university’s engineering department. The first student — let’s call him Elmo — comes from a large, well-funded public school. Elmo’s application assets include 

◆◆3.8 High School GPA (of a capped 4.0) 

◆◆A traditional college preparatory course load, heavy in math and science, with two Honors and two Advanced Placement (AP) courses 

◆◆AP scores: 3 Physics, 4 Calculus 

Dan Deans
5/5/2013 11:49:00 AM

The Assistant Dean of Admissions at a local college we were visiting instructed prospective students to "take a risk on your profile essay to stand apart" for the admissions reviewer. She made it clear that the formulaic approach--"I belong to the [chess/debate/tennis] club and it has taught me [teamwork/perseverance/respect]"--would fail to gain the interest of admissions officers, and told the story of denying admission to a student whose social conscious was stirred by witnessing poverty during a vacation with her parents in the Caribbean. This college expected a deeper involvement than a vacation, difficult I am sure for many students with an overwhelming workload. For many this was a shock that the traditional approach to schooling may not guarantee admission. Our teenagers did stand apart from the crowd: both were homeschoolers (not unschoolers) who never attended public or private schools. Both earned strong GPAs at community colleges from the age of 16 prior to transferring to four-year colleges. Both pursued their own interests, wrote their own unique and exciting essays (not written by their parents), and were accepted into great colleges. For many families homeschooling is worth the sacrifice, and colleges are very accepting of homeschooled teenagers. One counselor told us that homeschooled college students are better prepared for the hard work of studying. The end results for our family are two college graduates: a microbiologist and a lawyer.