Blake Boles

Blake Boles – Unschooling and College

Blake Boles – Unschooling and College

Blake Boles is an Experiential Educator who has organized big trips for teenagers through his company Unschool Adventures since 2008. He is a California native and a frequent traveler, hiker, and biker. 

Blake Boles is the author of The Art of Self-Directed Learning, Better Than College, and College Without High School. He hosts the Off-Trail Learning podcast and has delivered over 75 presentations for education conferences, alternative schools, and parent groups.

Blake and his work have appeared on The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, BBC Travel, Psychology Today, Fox Business, TEDx, The Huffington Post, USA Today, NPR affiliate radio, and the blogs of Wired and The Wall Street Journal.

In 2003 Blake was studying astrophysics at UC Berkeley when he stumbled upon the works of John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn, and other alternative education pioneers. Deeply inspired by the philosophy of unschooling, Blake custom-designed his final two years of college to focus exclusively on education theory. After graduating he joined the Not Back to School Camp community and began writing and speaking widely on the subject of self-directed learning.

Key Takeaways:

00:11 The Origin of Blake Boles’ Self-Directed Education journey.

6:22 Self-Directed Education in Europe

9:14 Meeting parents who have fears on Alternative Education.

13:22 Homeschoolers Unschoolers, and Alternatively School Students getting into the most rigorous and the most elite colleges.

21:50 Options for Students pursuing Alternative Education.

28:34 Community for Students who go for Alternative Education.

35:26 Popularity of Alternative Education due to Pandemic.

41:08 Metaphor that describes Self-Directed Education versus Traditional System.

43:00 What is Blake’s ideal trajectory for his future kids considering all his experiences?


 I don’t want to say, “be more authentic to sell yourself to top colleges,” no, “be more authentic because that’s a meaningful way to go about your education.” 

You don’t need a high school diploma to get into any top private, liberal arts college in the United States.

…there’s so much destruction that the mechanics of school can wreck upon family relationships. It turns parents into homework cops. It poisons all of the otherwise casual discussion that might exist around a dinner table.

Its very hard for me to make to make blanket recommendations about “Is it better to homeschool or unschool or to go to an alternative school?” It really depends upon the time and the place and the opportunities available to that young person and that specific young person’s personality and needs.

Any venture into the world of alternative education begins with a research process, that both parents and young people should participate in and you go explore, you go meet people, you go knock on doors. And that is really what’s going to inform whatever we call that the next right step. 

You do enjoy this increased level of freedom and autonomy, but you also have to take the responsibility and sometimes, the anxiety that comes with self-employment also. And so that’s what being a self-directed learner is like, it’s a lot like working for yourself. 

Social Links:

Blake Boles:

 LinkedIn –

 Website –

 Podcast (Off-Trail Learning) –

Unschool Adventures:

 Website –

Facebook –

 Instagram –


 Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School?: the case for helping them leave, chart their own paths, and prepare for adulthood at their own pace

 The Art of Self-Directed Learning: 23 Tips for Giving Yourself an Unconventional Education

 Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree

 College Without High School: A Teenager’s Guide to Skipping High School and Going to College