This page will help you learn about options for high school and college for teenagers who aren't enrolled in conventional school.
NOTE: Please send me suggestions for additions or corrections to all the listings you see. I appreciate your help!
Teens can continue to learn as they did when they were younger—by following their interests, developing their abilities through a variety of activities and experiences, and by engaging with adults, teachers, or peers in order to learn and grow. You don't have to acquiesce to the standard high school curriculum for your child to succeed as an adult. Businesses, colleges, and universities look favorably upon self-motivated people who want to learn and who make the most of the resources available to them, and unschooling provides the conditions for making this happen.
Here are a variety people recounting their experiences as teens and parents of teens learning outside of conventional schooling.
• The GWS Issue Archives contain many stories about teens, high school, college, and work that you will find useful. Take the time to search and learn from the experiences of many unschoolers over a 24-year period.
• Peter Kowalke's documentary Grown Without Schooling.
Places for Teens Besides
Books About or with Good Chapters About Unschooling Teenagers
Albert, David. Homeschooling And the Voyage of Self-Discovery. Common Courage Press, 2003.
Cohen, Cafi. Homeschooling The Teen Years. Prima, 2000.
Colfax, David and Colfax, Micki. Homeschooling For Excellence. Warner, 1988.
Dobson, Linda. The Homeschooling Book of Answers. Prima, 2002.
Hailey, Kendall. The Day I Became An Autodidact. Delta, 1988.
Hern, Matt, ed. Deschooling Our Lives. New Society Publishers, 1996.
Llewellyn, Grace, and Silver, Amy. Guerilla Learning: How to give your kids a real education with or without school. John Wiley & Sons, 2001.
Llewellyn, Grace. Freedom Challenge: African-American Homeschoolers. Lowry House, 1996.
——. Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don’t Go To School Tell Their Own Stories. Lowry House, 1993.
——. The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to quit school and get a real life and education. Lowry House, 1998
McKee, Alison. Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves. Bittersweet House, 2002.
How to Earn a High School Diploma
Correspondence, Online , and Independent Study High School Programs
There are many more such schools throughout the country. Any search engine will turn them up; be sure to search under “Distance Learning Programs” as well as “Homeschooling High School.” Also, most homeschooling books that cover teenagers also list Internet resources for learning high school subjects. These are one’s I’ve known people to use successfully.—PF
Brigham Young University Independent Study
High School Transcript Programs
206 Harman Building
PO Box 21514
Provo, UT 84602
Since 1994, this online school provides an accredited online high school diploma program and courses.
School of Continuing Studies
Independent Study Program
Owen Hall 001
790 E. Kirkwood Ave.
Bloomington, IN 47405-7101
University of Missouri
Center for Distance and Independent Study
136 Clark Hall
Columbia, MO 65211-4200
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Independent Study High School
269 Hardin Center
Lincoln, NE 68583-9400
Testing to receive a High School Diploma:
GED Testing Service
NOTE: The GED is now a privately operated business and is much more expensive. From their website: "GED Testing Service is a joint venture between Pearson and the American Council on Education (ACE)."
Testing to receive college credit for courses:
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
PO Box 6600
Princeton, NJ 08541-6600
CLEP Official Study Guide 2013 (Official Study Guide for the CLEP Examinations). College Board, 2013.
American College Testing – Proficiency Examination Program (ACT – PEP examinations)
Iowa City, IA 52243
NY State residents should contact: Regents College Examinations, Albany, NY 12230.
Standardized Testing for College
Covers the PSAT (usually taken in Oct. of sophomore or junior year), the SAT I, SAT II, AP, and CLEP practice tests available online.
An unconventional standardized test preparation service.
Opportunities and Activities for Teenagers
Not in School
AFS InterNational Exchange Program, 71 West 23rd St. 17th floor New York, NY 10010, 212-807-8686, 800-AFS-INFO. Fax: 503-241-1653
Center for Interim Programs, P.O. Box 2347, Cambridge MA 02238,617-547-0980. Fax: 617-661-2864.
Gap year counseling experts.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 6 Herndon Ave. Annapolis MD 21403, 800-445-5572.
Crow Canyon Archaeological Ctr, 23390 County Rd K, Cortez CO 8l32l, 970-565-8975, 800-422-8975
Experiment in International Living, Box 676, Kipling Rd, Brattleboro VT 05302-0676, 802-257-775l. 800-345-2929, Fax 802-258-3248. Cultural immersion home study programs for 3, 4, and 5 weeks in the summer to 18 countries.
Farm Sanctuary, P.O. Box 150, Watkins Glen NY 14891. 607-583-2225. Fax: 607-583-2041, . Apprenticeships in caring for sick animals.
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, 9275 Tremont Rd, Townsend TN 37882, 865-448-6709 Naturalist Workshops, programs for teenagers.
Hulbert Outdoor Center, 2968 Lake Morey Road, Fairless, VT, 05045, 802-333-3405. Fax 802- 333-3404. Camp for ages 9-17. Vegetarian food provided.
Kids for Saving Earth Clubs, P.O. Box421118, Plymouth MN 55442,763-559-1234.
Living Routes: Ecovillage Education, 85 Baker Road, Shutesbury, MA 01072-9703, 888-515-7333, Fax: 413-259-1256. College-level programs based in sustainable communities called ecovillages around the world.
National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Camp, www.nfw.org, 800-822-9919
Not Back to School Camp, P.O. Box 1014, Eugene, OR, 97440, 541—686-2315. Grace Llewellyn’s camp for ages 13-18. Vegetarian food provided.
SERVAS, 11 John St, Rm 505, New York NY l0038, 212-267-0252. Visit or host foreign family.
Time Out Adventures: Hands-on learning for the curious. 111 McDonald Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 707-575-3363
Tree People, l260l Mulholland Dr, Beverly HIlls CA 902l0, 818-753-4600.Environmental leadership program.
Check your local library for the following titles:
Mark Oldman. The Best 109 Internships, 9th Edition.
Princeton Review. The Internship Bible (2004).
Academic Studies about College Admissions for Homeschoolers
Journal of College Admissions, Fall 2004, Number 185. Special Homeschool Issue. Homeschoolers do well in college compared to their peers and 75% of the admission officers indicated that they had an official homeschool admission policy. You can read the entire issue at AHEM (Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts).
Journal of College Admissions, Summer, 2010. "Exploring Academic Outcomes of Homeschooled Students" by Michael F. Cogan. The study examines the academic outcomes of homeschooled students who enter a medium size doctoral institution located in the Midwest. Descriptive analysis reveals homeschool students possess higher ACT scores, grade point averages (GPAs) and graduation rates when compared to traditionally-educated students.
First-Hand Accounts of College Admissions for Homeschoolers
Blake Boles. College Without High School: A Teenager's Guide to Skipping High School and Going to College, New Society Press, 2009.
• Mickey and David Colfax Keynote at the GWS 20th Anniversary Conference.
The keynote is about how children learn through work, but the Colfax's speak about college admissions for unschoolers, too.
• Grown Homeschoolers Panels, 1997 (video).
• Grown Homeschoolers Panel 2005 (audio only). Panelists include homeschoolers who were in college, who just graduated, and who never attended. This panel was moderated by Sara-Beth Matilsky, a grown homeschooler who did not go to college and "did other things that homeschooling made possible."
• Teenage Homeschoolers: College or Not?
• Homeschooler Joel Fields discusses going to Harvard as part of an interview with John Holt on New England Today.
College Alternatives and Transcripts
Dale Stephens' website that supports his work with "hackademics," a term he describes in depth in his book Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will, Penguin 2013.
Books About College Alternatives and Degrees
Atieh, Sam. How to Get a College Degree Via the Internet. Prima, 1998.
Beach, Wes. Opportunities after “High School.” 4th Edition. 2008.
——. Forging Paths: Beyond Traditional Schooling. GHF Press, 2012.
Boles, Blake. Better than College: How To Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree, Tells Peak Press, June 2012
Bear, John. College Degrees by Mail and Internet. 10th edition. Ten Speed Press, 2005.
Careers Without College Series (Peterson's Guides)
Success Without College Series (Barron's Educational Series)
Carroll, James L. College Credit Without Classes: How to obtain academic credit for what you already know. J.G. Ferguson, 1999.
Cohen, Cafi. And What About College? How Homeschooling Leads to Admissions to the Best Colleges and Universities. Holt Associates, 2000.
——. Homeschoolers’ College Admissions Handbook: Preparing 12- to 18-year-olds for Success in the College of Their Choice. Prima, 2000.
Frost, Maya. The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education. Three Rivers Press, 2009.
Hayes, Charles. Proving You're Qualified. Autodidactic Press. 1995.
Heuer, Loretta. The Homeschoolers Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts. Arco, 2000.
Kamenetz, Anya. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. Chelsea Green, 2010.
Kohl, Herbert. The Question is College. Heinemann/Boynton/Cook, 1998.
Llewellyn, Grace. The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to quit school and get a real life and education. Lowry House, 1998. NOTE: If you can only afford to purchase one book on this topic this is the one I always recommend.—PF
Nixon, Thomas. Bear’s Guide to Earning High School Diplomas Nontraditionally. Ten Speed Press, 2003.
Sheffer, Susannah. A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls. Heinemann/Boynton/Cook, 1995
Wood, Danielle. The Uncollege Alternative: Your Guide to Incredible Careers and Amazing Adventures Outside College. ReganBooks, 2000.