College Without High School

New Society Publishers, 2009.
6,000+ copies sold as of 2022.

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High school can be boring. High school curriculum can be frustrating and out of touch.

So what is the answer for young people whose creativity, bright ideas, and boundless energy are being stifled in that over-scheduled and grade-driven environment?

What would you do if you could go to college without going to 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 shows how independent teens can self-design 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.

It is possible to pursue your dreams, and gain admission to any college of your choice.

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.

This intriguing approach to following your dreams and doing college prep on your own terms will be welcomed by students (and their parents).


“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

“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. 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

“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

“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