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Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will Paperback – March 5, 2013

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Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will + Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree + The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College About How to Be Successful
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399159967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399159961
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"If you're about to go to college and you don't have the guts to read this book first, you deserve exactly what you end up with instead." ---Seth Godin, author of Stop Stealing Dreams --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Dale J. Stephens left school at twelve to become an unschooler, the self-directed branch of homeschoolers. He has appeared at TED 2012; on news outlets including CNN, ABC, and NPR; and in New York Magazine and Forbes. His writing has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Fast Company. Dale founded UnCollege.org.

More About the Author

At 20, Dale Stephens founded UnCollege.org because we're paying too much for college and learning too little. It's no secret that college doesn't prepare students for the real world. Student loan debt recently eclipsed credit card debt for the first time in history and now tops 1 trillion dollars. And the throngs of unemployed graduates chasing the same jobs makes us wonder whether there's a better way to "make it" in today's marketplace.

Stephens is a sought-after education expert appearing on major news networks including CNN, ABC, NPR, CBS, Fox, and TechCrunch. His work has been covered by the New York Times and New York Magazine to Fast Company and Forbes.

Stephens' interest in education comes from his background in unschooling, the self-directed form of homeschooling with which he was raised. He left school at age eleven and self-educated instead of going to middle and high school.

He has spoken around the world at high-profile events, from debating Vivek Wadhwa onstage at TED 2012 to lecturing at the New York Times to speaking to C-level executives at NBC Universal. He works frequently with universities who realize their model of education must change to survive in the 21st century.

In May 2011 Stephens was selected out of hundreds of individuals around the world as a Thiel Fellow, a program recognizing the top twenty-four entrepreneurs around the world under the age of twenty. In addition to leading UnCollege, Stephens advises education and technology companies.

Customer Reviews

This is an excellent book that all college age students and their parents should read.
It was a great experience and using the tricks in Dale's book I think many more people can have these types of self directed learning experiences.
Barbara Berger
If you are twenty-something buy this book, or if you are fifteen, and thinking about going to college read this book.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

220 of 238 people found the following review helpful By Alan F. Sewell on March 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was interesting both as a matter of general curiosity and personal relevance. The general curiosity is that I am now thirty years out of university and sometimes muse about the value that university education has had for me in my life (yes, it has had value but not always in ways I expected).

The personal relevance is that I have a son in high school who'll soon be making the decision of whether to go to college or to take a full time job to develop his life's passion then perhaps go to college later to complement it with a degree.

The first thing you'll want to know before reading this book is whether author Dale Stephens is a nut. Is he an embittered college drop-out bent on rationalizing his failure to graduate by convincing us that college is a waste of time and money for everybody? Mr. Stephens did write a piece in the Wall Street Journal this weekend titled "A Smart Investor would skip the MBA." Many WSJ readers who commented on the article judged it to be simple-minded. But his book is more practical-minded than the short WSJ article. It advises high school students to ask the questions that they must answer in order to prepare themselves for entry into the performance driven world of academia and career.

Some of Dale's sensible advice is:

Figure Out Why You're Here: 1. What are you on this planet to do? The answer is one word, and always a verb. Sandee's answer is to teach. Write down your verb....Write down your ten possible occupations:

Get Up at 6: 00 a.m. Every day for a week I challenge you to get up at 6: 00 and spend the first few hours of your day working. It may be painful, but I promise it will also be a rewarding experience.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Tajinder Singh on March 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me preface this review, by stating that, I have been an avid follower of the UnCollege movement for well over a year now, so most of the information I read in this book, felt repetitive. I had the same quips with Blake Boles' Better Than College. However, for the Average Joe, most of the information may be relatively new.

I felt that the information was somewhat useful, but didn't go that extra mile, in really impressing me as the reader. It was sprinkled with "Hacks of the Day", actionable tips on improving one's life. The quality of the writing felt average, at best, though this could be to make the book more approachable and understandable by the casual reader. The diction was lacking, so was the grammar. The book, as a whole, left me feeling that there was something I wasn't getting. One suggestion would have been to elaborate more on how someone with zero experience, zero accomplishments, zero community, can get off the ground. Dale constantly asserts his pathos(credibility), but doesn't explain how he was able to do so; he simply says that "I was born this way", or that he was "naturally talented" in certain areas that allowed him to succeed. That's great, but for someone who's looking to do this at the age of 18, 40, etc. Dale leaves no clues as to how he established himself, over the past 6 years.

If you haven't followed the whole UnCollege movement, it is a decent read, but as a whole, I felt that the Education of Millionaires was well written and taught me a lot more.

Anyhow, I wish Dale the best on his journey.
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There are two great facts with which the educational establishment refuses to come to terms. The first is that the system, as it is structured, leaves a vast gap between what students achieve and what they could potentially achieve. The second is that potential achievement is distributed according to the pitiless bell curve.

Dale Stephens was an exceptionally talented fifth-grader when he researched unschooling and persuaded his parents, a schoolteacher and an engineer, to let him do it. He had to be exceptional not only in terms of intelligence, but in terms of drive and self-discipline. Simply put, most 11-year-old children are not in a position to take charge of their own education.

Although Stephens does not say so, his book is most appropriate for people in the upper ranges of the ability distribution, the people who lose the most when their abilities and interests are stifled by the educational bureaucracy. Though it is not his thesis, I add that these are the instances in which society damages itself the most by forcing bright kids into the straitjacket of conventional systems.

"Hacking your education" is about taking the concept of home schooling, or unschooling, to the University level. Several facts are beyond dispute. The cost of university education is rising much faster than the rate of inflation. It is driven by the availability of money, scholarships and student loans made to ensure that students of modest economic backgrounds can get a college education. The result is that the average college student graduates (or fails to graduate) with $29,000 worth of student loans. Moreover, the lenders have finagled the law in such a way that it is the only debt which cannot be discharged by bankruptcy. Student loan debt will follow a person for his entire life.
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