Hacking High School in Action: My Story

1 Nov


I loved high school my freshman year. It was new, it was exciting, it was great.

But by the time sophomore year came around, I was disillusioned. With high fences, beige lockers, and a cop out front, the school looked more like a jail than anything else. And the classes! The learning process was so boring that the only point of school was, really, socialization: teaching us how to be good little citizens, how to keep our heads down and not question authority, how to fight for meaningless popularity.

My schoolwork started to reflect how I felt about school. I could have aced Spanish without a problem, but I got a D because I quit doing homework.

Escape to New Zealand

Feeling trapped on all sides, I decided to get out–way out. Travel the world. Even though they were all impossibly expensive, I looked into study abroad programs and decided on New Zealand.

Then my grandma emailed someone she knew in New Zealand, and suddenly I had a cheap room and board set up. I applied to go to the local school and was accepted!

Hacking High School: early graduation and study abroad

Because I didn’t know what my situation would be when I returned to the states, I also took the California High School Proficiency Exam. A friend of a friend took this and graduated early. So I found out details and took the test.

You would not believe how easy the test was–way easier than the PSAT I’d already taken, easier than many regular tests at school. Seriously, if the basic math and English they were testing was really all that we were supposed to learn in high school, I could have been out of there a long time ago.

With that, at 16 years old, I spent six amazing months living in New Zealand with a great family while everyone else was stuck in the prison-like high school, fighting for the kind of popularity I got instantly by being a foreigner with a weird accent in this new school.

When I returned to the states, I went to a community college. After I had 30 units, I transferred to a university and graduated a few semesters later with a high GPA and a bachelor’s degree in English. Now I’m a published writer and am living my dream job.

Looking Back

There were so many things I didn’t know in this process: what was really required for high school? What was acceptable for college admissions?  I could have avoided the agony of sophomore year if I’d known the options. On the other hand, getting out was a close call–mere chance that I happened to hear of the early graduation exam, mere chance that my grandma happened to know someone with an extra room on the other side of the world.

The point of the Hacking High School blog is to remove that close call–to give you more information and a better chance of creating a high school education that works for you.

If I, with limited knowledge, money, and social skills, could do all that I did, think of what YOU can do.

Take on the world. You will win.


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