Updated: Jul 13
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that is it stupid.” -Albert Einstein
High school, in the way that America’s educational system has designed it, does not allow every student to achieve their full potential. From low bars to standardized tests, every student is expected to learn best by a teacher telling them what to know and pass by completing a written or online exam.
As the idea of learning styles becomes familiar, we have yet to give our students options to choose the path that is best for them. CEOs, geniuses, athletes, builders, and creatives, are just a few examples of students that learn amongst others. Not only do we have students who learn best in other ways, we also have environments that do not provide a safe space to learn effectively.
With the various opportunities to advance your education past the high school curriculum provided, students and parents increasingly look toward the less traveled paths. From the well-known and self-paced homeschooling to college credit exams that only require a passing grade, there are so many ways to take advantage of programs to hack high school.
As an existing high school hacker and future computer science hacker, let me give you some context into my story. I received my high school diploma and Associate of Science degree at 16 years old in the middle of my junior year of high school. I was able to do this because I took seven high school classes in middle school and enrolled in dual enrollment. Check out What Is Dual Enrollment to learn about how you can replace your high school classes with college classes and receive dual credit for free like I did. Wait… I have more! I also wrote a FREE 10 Step Guide to Graduate High School and College Early for anyone who wants to join the white hat hacker team (the good guys and gals). I am now attending a 4 year university on track to receive my bachelor’s degree in computer science at 19 years old.
Hacking can be defined as using unique ways to achieve a goal, meaning you can hack high school and still graduate. With that in mind, here is a list of ways to transform high school into a self-paced and challenging curriculum to pass and surpass with flying colors.
1. Dual Enrollment
I gave you a preview into the program earlier, but let’s dive in. Dual enrollment is a national program that allows students as young as in seventh grade to take college classes for free or reduced cost and receive dual credit. Unfortunately, the program requirements and tuition coverage varies by state and school. As a public school, homeschool, or private school student, you are also eligible to pursue dual enrollment.
The best hack that has been around for a long time is homeschooling. It is self-paced, flexible, and can go on for as long as you want. I went to college year round to graduate early and it is the same way here. You can enroll in more classes that normal during the school year in addition to taking full-time high school classes during the summer. Once you meet the requirements needed to graduate, you can request to receive your diploma early.
3. Career Centers
Some high schools house a career center for students to pursue a career before they graduate. During that time of following a particular field, students can also gain college credit.
This is a great way to explore life before life’s problems hit. Gives students a chance to find what they want to major in and experience real-life applications to make sure it really is what they want to do.
4. Advanced Placement (A.P.)
The most common and familiar track for some students is to enroll in A.P. courses because schools encourage it as a method to obtain college credit. The class would be exactly like a high school class, included in a student’s schedule. The difference is a student pays and takes an end-of-class exam that they would need to pass to get credit for the time dedicated all school year long. Also, if you know what university you want to go before starting A.P. classes, ask the school if they will count the credits. Acceptance of these credits vary on the school.
One last hack that I have heard about is high school proficiency exams. Certain states will allow a student to take an exam and receive a diploma based on their grade. Here is an article on California High School Proficiency Exam and Ohio’s Alternative Pathway toward graduation.
I’ve always been a lover of education, but first and foremost I am an advocate for the right education. One path is not the best for everyone. I have certainly taken the path less traveled, so laying all options on the table for every student should be the first step but is usually the last.
It’s about time education is made accessible and a gateway to success for everyone. Hacking high school is just bridging the gap between standard and exceptional.