It’s normal to feel bored, frustrated, or unengaged by high school. The big question is: What are you going to do about it? 

Below are some suggested directions. No matter who you are, you should browse our interviews with teenagers, interviews with grown self-directed learners, and our podcast.

If you do well in school…

You get good grades. You please your teachers. But something is off. You feel bored, unengaged, and frustrated. You often wonder “what’s the point of this?” You know that you could be doing more—challenging yourself, learning things that are actually important, not wasting your time with busywork—but that’s hard when you’re rewarded so handsomely for being a “good student”. (This was my situation.)

…or you do poorly in school…

You don’t turn in assignments, you fight with your teachers and parents, and you mentally resist everything that school asks of you. It’s not that the work is too hard—you could do it if you tried—but what’s the point of trying? You want to learn and do things that are real and meaningful and important, not just check off boxes in a made-up fantasy land. School, you’ve realized, has little to do with the real world. The sooner it’s over, the better.

Look into:

Self-Motivation

Guerrilla Learning

Unschooling

Starting College Early

Self-Directed Learning Centers

 

If you’re about to graduate…

Everyone is expecting you to go directly into the best college that you can get into. But is that really what’s best for you? You feel like you’ve had so little chance to explore the world (and to explore yourself), that 4+ more years of academics seems silly. How can you make a decision about what to study without any life experience? You love the idea of living independently and making new friends, but when you’re honest with yourself, you suspect that you’ll really just waste your (or your parent’s) money.

Look into:

Gap Years

Purposefully Skipping College