Book Review: Hacking Your Education by Dale J. Stephens

This is not a book about dropping out, but rather about becoming empowered
to make your own decisions… If you’re looking for an easy solution, shortcut,
or way to work less, this book is not for you. Hacking your education requires
tons of hard work and determination.
From the Introduction

Dale J. Stephens has had an extraordinary life … thus far. At 21 years old, it may seem like a long time if you are 16 or 17 and find the title of this book appealing; but, trust me … it is a brief period in the grand scheme of life. Although I think the author has many good ideas, I don’t think they are very plausible for most 18 years that I know. And I do know a lot of 18 year olds.

The unwritten parts of this book were what intrigued me most. Mr. Stephens posits that, like himself, anyone can accomplish anything they set their mind to with enough grit and determination. I beg to differ. I would contend that he had above-average intelligence and an upper middle-class support system that afforded him many advantages unavailable to the majority of teens {a fact he barely recognizes or acknowledges}.

As I read through the editors copy of his manuscript {full disclosure – I did not buy this book, nor did I receive a copy in exchange for this review}, I kept asking myself, “who was the intended audience?” For the most part … it seemed to be young, white males with backgrounds similar to the author. That certainly leaves a whole lot of people on the sidelines. Others may buy this book, but I don’t think they’ll find what they are hoping for.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a well-written book. I actually think it has some good advice for young people unsure of what direction they are headed in life. I’m a firm supporter of taking a year off after completing high school – I just think it’s wise to finish high school.

I did, however, feel like many of the ‘hacks’ advocated therein were … to say the least … unethical. I cringed when I read about sneaking into college classes for which you weren't registered or lying your way into conferences for which you hadn't paid. I think that is simply cheating the system, not hacking it.

Perhaps my 21 year old daughter, whom I asked to read the text and who just graduated from college, enlightened my perspective.  She made several salient points. For example, after reading about traveling the world by staying with people you've never met; her comment was, “As a young female, I’m supposed to feel comfortable couch surfing as a way to stay in countries I've never been to? Give me a break!” Also, “This guy never had to worry about things like having a reliable Internet connection so that he could do all his research and keep in touch with anyone.” Regarding becoming an entrepreneur, she said, “I spend enough time working with people in that circle to know that for every good idea that gets funding, a hundred more either don’t come to fruition or crash and burn.

So my advice would be that if you decide to buy the book, read it with a grain of salt … 


  1. We all need an inspiration. I wish I had more inspiring examples when I was in high school. I may not have accomplished as much as this author by the age of 21, but I might have accomplished more than I have. Does he really advocate lying and cheating? I have sat in many college classes I was not registered for - it was very simple to get a permission when there was a chair available.


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