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From Young People

In the eight years I’ve known Blake, he’s inspired me to climb Machu Picchu, write a novel, become proficient in Argentine tango, and make many lifelong friends. He presents opportunities, encourages me to be bold, and helps get out of my own way as I’m figuring out what to do next in my life. I once spent a good chunk of time talking about inflation and world currencies on a bus in the middle of Argentina with Blake. This is the kind of experience you should expect working with him. He knows his stuff, and he is good at sharing it. If you’re looking for someone who is genuine, compassionate, educational, and life-changing—I recommend working with him.

Tessa K.

Age 22 — Denver, Colorado

Blake is a very genuine person and one of the easiest people to communicate with who I’ve ever met. One of the most meaningful conversations we had took place on his Unschool Adventures New Zealand trip, where he helped me push myself to see how far I was willing to defend my values in a very fun and engaging way, which helped me sort out some deeper inconsistencies in my thoughts. Our time together has, without a doubt, made a positive impact on my life.

Erik B.

Age 19 — Portland, Maine

Blake, I wanted to let you know how much of an unschooler I’ve become! I deferred my admission to the University of Maryland (as a safety net) while my sister and I look into going to college directly in Argentina or Chile. I’ve become certified as a ski patroller and will become a CPR instructor next. I’m starting a tax prep course that is taught bilingually—the main audience obviously being Hispanics—but I’m sneaking around the system to get a super useful Spanish lesson. Thank you again for starting / encouraging / fueling this independent unschooler-ness. It’s been working out awesomely. You rock.

Julia S.

Age 19 — Gaithersburg, Maryland

To put it in its simplest form, Blake is the person who inspired me to begin unschooling, which in turn has brought me to the awesome, happy, self-directed life I’m living today. His knowledge and experience in the field is immense, but his true asset lies in his ability to take that knowledge and relate it to individuals with very different, very specific dreams, goals, and interests. Blake is a challenger and is never afraid to say or do what needs to be done in order to push you to new levels of thinking and doing. That being said, you have to be ready to take the reigns and put in the work to get to all those great, crazy places.

Milla V.

Age 18 — Savannah, Georgia

Your mentorship has been shaping my present and future in such a powerful proactive way that I had to email again. I just finished my first year of college. Thanks to your encouragement to share my story at Hunter College, I was invited to speak at Columbia University, then at TEDx at Christopher Newport University, and also at some children’s hospitals. I’ve also been invited to speak at several ceremonies and conferences to represent the Jewish community. Now I am the president of Hillel (Jewish Student Organization on campus) and the Virginia leader of Curvy Girls (international scoliosis peer-support group), and I’m preparing for physical therapy school. I got an internship! This internship is because of you as well. I met this physical therapist while I was speaking in NYC. Networking has been fantastic. I emailed her asking to learn from her. Now I’m here in Florida.
Thank you for giving me the chutzpah to go for it! Without the initial start you gave me, I don’t believe I would have gotten these opportunities. Generally, I wouldn’t finish the project that I started. If you hadn’t given me the opportunity of a self-designed challenge with a community along with yourself to encourage me, I don’t know where I’d be right now. Again, thank you! Gracias! Merci!

Gabriella M.

Age 19 — Powhatan, Virginia

From Parents

We first connected with Blake through his books that inspired our family to leap into changing our approach to learning. My 16 year-old son met with him first, and the conversation went so well, I decided I needed a guidance counselor myself and scheduled an appointment. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into but hoped to walk away with some clear direction on how to best support my teens on their journey. Blake was encouraging, kind, and asked insightful questions. His approach helped me discover things for myself with gentle guidance. I found his input enlightening and highly beneficial. Sometimes, this road can feel lonely, and as a parent, it’s easy to start questioning everything you’re doing. It helps to have a compassionate outside perspective to gently point to some possible adjustments while assuring you that all is well. I walked away from our conversation feeling empowered with resources, ideas, and tools to help support my teens. Sometimes we need to hear, “You’re doing fine; just keep going.” That is worth its weight in gold.

Heidi M.

Hill Country, Texas

I have worked with quite a few coaches in my life. Blake Boles stood out to me because of his depth of knowledge and experience, and how approachable he is. Blake makes an effort to think on behalf of his clients and offer you the BEST advice possible. I am in the middle of building my own school which has a component of international travel. Blake gave me solid advice that absolutely maximized the value I invested in working with him as a coach. I cannot wait to continue working with Blake on my entrepreneurial journey to make my Classroom Without Walls Academy a reality. Thank you again, Blake.

Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang

South Korea/USA

There are very few resources available to parents attempting to support their kids in exploring the world independently. As an unschooling parent, I’m used to having to go it alone in a world that often believes kids aren’t capable of much on their own. What a relief to find Blake Boles. I am so grateful for the advocacy and support Blake provides to families who stray from the mainstream.

Becky B.

Ashland, Oregon

When my daughter was in 9th grade, I helped her leave the traditional education that wasn’t serving her in order to create a new path that would. It was a tremendous and at times terrifying leap, for both of us. Blake’s role as Izzy’s mentor and champion, and thus inadvertently my own, grounded and informed our nascent steps as shirkers of all that was considered non-negotiable in our community (a 4.2 GPA, sky-high SATs, admission to an impressive college). As the months passed and I watched my previously depressed and disheartened child claim her full boldness and courage, Blake was the steady and encouraging presence that walked with her when she felt alone, encouraged her when she was full of doubt, and held her accountable when her noble path veered into back-to-back Netflix shows. Today, she’s stepped into her highest self. Blake was just what she needed to help her find her capacity to get there.

Kathleen D.

Mill Valley, California

We spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out where our son would fit in the school system. His freshman year at his public high school, in spite of being on the football team and in honors courses, was not thriving. Thankfully, we were pointed to Blake Boles and his Unschool Adventures program. This has fundamentally changed the way we see Ben’s education and our role in helping him find his way. It was the best decision we could have made for him. He has spent the last three years exploring his passions, working, and community building in Mexico and Colorado. He will be attending college in the Fall, knowing who he is and what he is passionate about. Blake knows how to motivate, guide and inspire youth to be in the driver’s seat of their futures.

Ashley C.

Reno, Nevada

Dear Blake, [my daughter] was saying that she is so grateful for the opportunities you offer unschooling teens. I think you are a wonderful model of someone who is doing what he loves: being with young adults, mentoring, being a leader, traveling. It is lonely sometimes being homeschooled. The young adult years are especially full of self-doubt but for homeschooled kids it’s probably worse. Having the chance to meet other teens who don’t play by the same rules as everyone else is so reassuring.

Deb K.

Denver, Colorado

We have known Blake since my daughter first signed up for one of his teen Writing Retreat programs in 2009. He’s one of those people who has stayed in our lives because he continually has relevance and meaning to us and often to others around us too. Blake is inspiring, relatable and very knowledgeable. He cuts to the important things emerging adults need to empower them. Blake encourages them to chart their own path and take responsibility for their own meaningful life course by asking the questions that count, and giving guided direction to help them do what they need to do to get there.

Darleen S.

Sacramento, California

For my books

The possibilities for success without college are rich and glorious—and potentially so confusing in their vastness as to be crippling. Blake Boles offers a clear and compelling roadmap: grounded in real-life examples and insightful analysis, lofted by a wide and exuberant sense of what life can become. Better Than College is perfectly tailored for its intended audience—youth on the threshold of adulthood. It will also, however, be a wonderful resource for adults who yearn to bring their work into alignment with their passions, and for families who want their children to grow toward successful and joyful careers.

Grace Llewellyn

Author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook

Blake Boles has scouted out information and ideas useful to more than just young adults. He has outlined options and filled in details for people of any age who want to see paths to learning and living outside of traditional schools. There is joy and hope in new directions, and Blake is an inspirational guide.

Sandra Dodd

Author of The Big Book of Unschooling

Unsure about college? Blake Boles has written a clear and wildly inspirational guide for those who long for a meaningful way to gain self-knowledge, acquire relevant experience and dive into full engagement. This isn’t a second-best proposition for young people ‘just not cut out for college’—it’s a bold blueprint for anyone looking to become focused, fired up and ready to define and follow their own successful path.

Maya Frost

Author of The New Global Student

During my 51 years’ and continuing work in education, I’ve read hundreds of books on education and found exactly three of them to be compelling, completely engaging, and highly inspirational. Better Than College is one of these three. If you have any thoughts about going to college—even if you’re committed to obtaining a college degree—read Better Than College; it will prompt deep thinking about your life direction.

Wes Beach

Director of Beach High School

Boles offers an antidote to the over-scheduled, grade-driven, and sadly uncreative existence of most high-schoolers today. It’s time for teens to take control of their own education. Yes, they must learn the basics. Absolutely. But as Boles explains, self-motivated teens can cover those topics efficiently and free up more of their time for further learning. This book is a crucial guide for students and parents interested in replacing the old carrot and stick that’s at the heart of today’s education system with intrinsic motivation–self-directedness and autonomy that leads to real learning and growth.

Daniel H. Pink

Author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

Blake Boles shares what homeschoolers have known for decades: teens are thriving everywhere without attending school! Blake will inspire you to seize the day and live well now, with every bit of confidence that the doors to college will be wide open to you. I am thrilled to have another messenger trumpet the truth that school is optional. I recommend all parents and educators to acquaint themselves with this information.

Kenneth Danford

Co-Founder of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens