Essential books for your Whole World High School

I have a small library of books which I refer to frequently when people ask me for program ideas and suggestions. All together there must be thousands of programs listed in these volumes.

Here are my favorites:

Peterson's Summer Opportunites for Kids and Teenagers

The Teenagers' Guide to School Outside the Box

Volunteer Vacations

The Teenage Liberation Handbook

The Back Door Guide to Short Term Job Adventures

Alternative Travel Directory: The Complete Guide to Travel, Study, & Living Overseas

Taking Time Off

The Uncollege Alternative

Peterson's Summer Opportunites for Kids and Teenagers
published by Peterson's in Princeton, NJ (www.petersons.com)

With over 1400 pages you'd think this book has everything. But, some of my favorite programs weren't listed here. You will find

--an extensive indexed by state and country, and by interest areas and by general alphabetical.
--Chart listing, by state and country, programs and areas offered.
--Contact information, cost, application timetables, scholarship information and good generaly descriptions of each program.
--information on programs for those with special needs.

This is a good book for finding your program in the college of your choice or if you just want a sailing program or to study physics, or particularly if money is no issue. What it DOESN'T give you is an easy way to find affordable programs. You have to weed through one by one.

Also, the chart where programs list whether or not programs have financial aid does not accommodate for the fact that some of those NOT offering financial aid are already grant funded and very cheap.

Because there are so many programs one can become overwhelmed and disinterested. But, it is a valuable reference along with the others.

The Teenagers' Guide to School Outside the Box
by Rebecca Greene, Free Spirit publishing inc. (www.freespirit.com)

This is a nice little book with a great deal of information useful to any teenager or parent looking for "out of the box" information. Greene includes info on:

-- What you can do while living at home
-- Volunteering—at home and abroad
-- Taking courses outside the HS classroom
-- Getting or being a mentor
-- Job Shadowing
-- Finding an Internship
-- Becoming an Apprentice

Greene goes into detail on how to get yourself into these situations—How to write a letter, who to talk to, etc. How to plan ahead, How to get an apprenticeship. How to get a visa, passport. Contains a lot of coaching and advice.

Also, throughout are little stories and vignettes on people who have gone "out of the box." This is a good handbook for anyone wanting a boost in their thinking about the larger world of their high school years. Greene walks you through, step by step. The study abroad section is very useful.

Volunteer Vacations
by Bill McMillon Produced by Chicago Review Press.

McMillon has gathered info on two hundred and fifty charitable organizations world wide which invite volunteers. One of the reasons I like this book is that the layout leaves a lot of white space. With information overload it is good to have only one organization listed on a page. It is wonderfully indexed. You can search your program by length, by project type, by place (country or state) and by price, which is very helpful.

There is no specific listing about age--this is not a book for any specific age and is mostly geared to adults. But some organizations indicate they will take those, for example, no younger than 16.

The Teenage Liberation Handbook
by Grace Llewellyn (Lowry House)

This is a whopper of a book, which is, as the cover blurb says, "packed with information for young people who want more than schools can offer, an invaluable and unique resource. She answers all of the common questions about learning outside of school and helps teenagers see that they can take control of their lives."

The book is irreverant but fun and crammed full of ideas meant for homeschoolers or those not doing school at all--"unschoollers."

I found it valuable becaue of its extensive listing of ways to learn about particular subjects, its perspective on self learning which we can all benefit from and for its listing of books, museums, and organizations to contact for more information.

What it does not do well is include contact listing on many of its references--so you have to do the hunting. But, that's what homeshcoolers (or unschoolers) know so well how to do.

Peppered throughout are little letters the author has received from readers accounting how they did what they did. I don't recommend quitting school but we sure can learn a lot from the homeschoolers who have been using community resources for learning for a long time. Many personal stories and letters will get you thinking about the whole process of how we learn.

As an adult I found this book truly inspiring--gave me pause to reflect upon all my years of education, much of which were spent staring out the window.

The Back Door Guide to Short Term Job Adventures
by Michael Landes (Ten Speed Press)

"An incredible resource offering thousands of detailed listings for paid internships, seasonal work, volunteer opportunities, overseas jobs and so much more," says the cover copy, and I agree.

This book is wonderfully organized and has several indexes---by place, by interest area, by alphabetical order,and a website index . It is wonderfully designed visually, and has great general resource lists pertinent to each section.

It is actually a lot of fun to use. Several young people I know have found their jobs through here. Though this book may be more pertinent to college students, high school students can find value in looking at the ideal candidate section under each listing. This can help guide you in your search to gain experience.

If you want to for a specific kind of organization, look some up in this book and start to gather the skills or certifications the organization requires.

Alternative Travel Directory: The Complete Guide to Travel, Study, & Living Overseas
by the Editors of Transitions Abroad magazine (Transitions Abroad Publishing)

"A directory that will appeal to adventurous, budget-minded individuals who want to see the world in ways more intimate than group or prepackaged tours."

The book begins with, "Be a traveler, not a tourist." This is a great resource for those wishing to travel and study abroad. In back are two sections specifically for teens -- Teen Study and Travel Resources and Teen Study and Travel Programs-- containing:

--criteria for selecting the right study abroad program
--language schools
--study programs
--internship programs
--arranging your own internship
--living abroad
--special interest vacations
--disability travel resources and programs
--responsible travel programs
--volunteer programs
--family travel

The index is mostly by country only so it takes a lot of hunting sometimes to find what you want. Also interspersed throughout are short articles written by those who have been there, for example:

--Women traveling alone,
--Cooking in Tuscany,
--Financing study abroad (by a Rotary scholarship recipient)
--Self arranged homestays,
--Budget travel top five (Thailand, Turkey, New Zealand, Ireland, Costa Rica)
--Travel on your own

Valuable here is an extensive section for those with disabilities, including travel agencies who cater to the disabled, and organizations, tour groups and publications for those with disabilities.

This book is fun and dense and invites repeated perusing. It is produced by the editors of Transitions abroad magazine www.transaborad.com Call for a sample copy 800-293-0373 of the magazine. You can easily buy back issues which have been carefully indexed so you can purchase the particular issue that suits your needs.

Taking Time Off
by Colin Hall and Ron Lieber (Noonday)
Note: this book is out of print but you may be able to find it searching for used books on the Barnes and Noble website.

This is a book of stories of those who have taken time off after high school or during college. These are people who have done programs like Americorps, NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership Association), SCA Student Conservation Association), or designed their own internships. It has a good resource section in the back. Lots of fun to read. "Inspiring stories of students who enjoyed successful breaks from college and how you can plan your own."

The Uncollege Alternative
by Danielle Wood (Regan Books)

"Whether you are a high school student considering your next step, a college student seeking change…this up-to-date guide will provide a wealth of life-changing ideas and resources including great careers without a college degree, taking time off before or after college, internships and training programs, community service projects that pay, and starting your own business."

No index here so just enjoy the read. This book gives respectability to those not seeking an immediate college experience right after high school. It's written in a spunky, fun to read style.

The first section includes some self testing that can help you think about what kind of person you are which will help direct you toward the right experiences. Here you can find out about trade schools, military options and the inside story on them, apprenticehips and short term classes-- or schooling that will prepare you for a career as a plumber or a cook or a hairdresser or nail technician.

Careers in the kitchen, Careers in Alternative medicine, and how to work your way around the world... Every school should have this one in its library. It really puts college in its place--as not the ONLY alternative. The attitude throughout reaffirms that you have many attractive choices after high school and that college is just one--and not necessarily the best--choice. The lack of indexing makes it not as useful as a quick resource book.

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