Okay so you’re going to a public high school, and you find yourself stuck in classes that bore you with slow paced easy material. You want a challenge. You want to study things that will help later in life. But your school treats you like a number, and no one cares enough to help. You have more options than you think.

Chances are someone sometime before you has been in the same predicament you find yourself in now. They did something about it so you didn’t have to. Now you just have to find the progress that they made and build upon it, which may be fairly difficult to do. Your guidance counselor is probably a joke. They want you in standardized classes, and expect you to go to one of maybe 3 colleges once you graduate. Here’s how to work within the system to make high school tolerable if not enjoyable.

Required Classes
First things first, there are no required classes. There really aren’t even graduation requirements. It’s all a farce. So called “required classes” generally fall into one of several categories:

Classes you “must take to get enough credits to graduate”
Classes you “must specifically take to graduate”
Classes everyone takes in principle

Try to take as few of the above classes as possible. Chances are the teachers don’t care, and neither do the students. The way to get out of it is to have a parent come with you to talk to your guidance counselor, as soon as possible in your high school career, explain that you are not an average student, and exempt you from one of these classes. After this happens a few times, your counselor should stop asking questions.

The same thing goes for classes with grade requirements (you must be a junior or senior), and pre-requisites (take basic chemistry first). No one will ever actually stop you from enrolling in a class without a pre-req. They may force you to take some bullshit test or something, but what you score on the test will be of absolutely no importance. Your parents are tax-payers, and what they say goes.

Directed Study
Your school probably has a little known and much abused Directed/Independent Study program. This program allows you to use a class period for study of a topic of your own choosing under the direction of a teacher. Choose a good teacher who trusts you, get a text book on material you are interested in, and study at your own pace. These can be wonderful. You may incorporate whatever resources you like, do a final project, present an oration, or do nothing at the end of the semester. The only problem is a lack of socializing, which can be good or bad. If you do not have a teacher in the building who trusts you, get your text book first, go explain the situation to a well known “good teacher”, and they will probably be so impressed that you took initiative on your own that they will sign whatever documentation for the class you put in front of them.

Dual Enrollment
When a student has finished all of the available courses in an academic area, the school is likely bound by law to pay for the student to continue their studies at a local community college. This program is called Dual Enrollment. Because the program exists, it can be used for taking other non-academic courses as well, if you play your cards right. You will get free college credits, take interesting courses, and schedule your class time as you like. You may be able to take courses during the school-day, or “flex” the classes until after-school. There are no AP tests, no bullshit high school policies, just learning.

Flex Classes
Most people at your high school wake up ridiculously early and go to school, sleep through most of the day, and then come home and do homework. You don’t have to do that, at least not for all four years. Flex classes allow you to leave the building, go home, and do your studying later. Flex classes can be Directed Study, Dual Enrollment, or special classes that meet at non-standard facility or at a non-standard time (at my high school Jazz Band was flex). Taking a number of flex classes puts blocks in your schedule where you “have a class” but during which you are excused from the school. If you schedule them for your 1st hour, you get to sleep in, which, trust me, will improve both your attitude and your grades. If you schedule a flex class right before lunch, you get an elongated lunch, which can be quite nice as well. Of course this all requires the use of a car and an open campus…

One last piece of advice: get a subscription to the New York Times. This alone may keep you sane; I know it has for me.

All information gleaned from personal experience, your mileage may vary.

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