Fun fact about me:
I’m one of those high school dropouts.
Three years ago I was a freshman at a local high school with over 3,500 kids. My history of schooling was a wandering path through states and institutions private and public. I had dropped out of school twice before, and the only school I had ever attended for more than one year was a Montessori for 7th and 8th grade, with only about 30 kids in the entire middle school.
The year didn’t start out well, with students like myself being sexually harassed and one committing suicide. Math and Science were the absolute lowest levels, and I became rather like a teacher assistant for math.
There were good parts. Two of my classes were part of the GATE program (like honors, but instead of extra paperwork, art projects), and quickly became engaging enough to keep my interest much of the time. Yoga and Theater were my electives, two of the most coveted classes in the school. Yoga changed my life, beginning to knock down the harmful self-consiousness issues I harbored at the time. Theater taught me how to increase outward confidence to stand out from competition, even if I wasn’t confident inwardly. Creative writing cemented my interest in writing creatively and is probably the reason this blog exists.
But I was bored out of my mind.
Bored to tears!
I felt I was wasting my time being told what to do. In practice, school controls you 24/7 if you factor in homework, and the fact you have to be somewhere from the morning to afternoon (plus travel time) which makes any kind of traveling difficult and impractical.
What was I learning I couldn’t learn elsewhere or by myself, in a much less toxic and redundant, and much more stimulating, environment?
Khan Academy would serve as math.
The library and it’s colossal collection of literary works would serve as English and History, as well as Math and Science.
Of course, the internet boasts all sorts of labratory-at-home ideas for Science, and classes or informational websites on every subject I could ever take at any high school.
And the very best way to learn was by doing, right? Homeschooling would leave me the freedom to participate fully in NaNoWriMo and other writing adventures, to travel, to attend conferences, to get a job or internship, to practice silent mediation in the mountains for a week.
So I dropped out over the winter break.
I ended up
- “writing a novel” by surpassing my 50,000 word goal by 10 words in 21 days (Camp NaNoWriMo)…
- …before going to Costa Rica for 12 days on an educational adventure (after fundraising over $1000)
- job shadowing at a local veterinarian’s office for 4 hours/week for months (10am-12pm Tues&Thurs)
- completing a job readiness workshop
- completing a college prep workshop
- spending much needed quality time with my mother, brother, sister, and father
- taking a literary analysis class on the Lord of the Rings trilogy
- completing independent studies in math, history, biology, and current events
- and much much more I never could have done otherwise.
It was worth it. There is no experience that can compare.
My only problem was the social scene. There weren’t as many people my age around, and I grew a little lonely. Sometimes it was worth it to have left the rather judgmental A-F soup that is high school; sometimes I considered returning to school just to have more “friends.”
On the Costa Rica trip, I saw how happy the seniors from CHS were with their choice of school, and decided to go there for sophomore year with the understanding I’d drop out if I really didn’t like it.
It turned out CHS was a good fit. However, by the time winter break rolled around, I didn’t think I wanted to leave, but I knew I was ready for a change. That was when I started looking into study abroad programs for the following school year.
Now I’m back, and CHS is still probably the best high school for me. But especially considering my recent travels, the education system in Arizona, no matter the forward thinking teachers there, is rather mundane.
I just happened to find a book called College Without High School by Blake Boles, given to me freshmen year when I dropped out. It’s quite the inspiration, really, and offers a lifestyle of many appeals. However, the social scene….
Thoughts are required.