When Jamie Walter was a junior in high school, he set out on a college road trip with his parents, searching for the perfect place to earn his engineering degree. His dad was an engineer. He would be one too. Columbia. Cornell. McGill. Clarkson. Happy schools full of happy people. But Walter didn’t feel that way. He couldn’t. He looked around, wondering if spending the next four years—and ultimately his life—on this path was the right move. The answer, terrifyingly, wasn’t clear.
Overcome by the gravity of the decision, he returned home to southern Maine in the spring of 2010, and fell into a depression that put college, and his life, on hold.
“I couldn’t get out of bed, didn’t go to school, and lost interest in everything,” he says. “I couldn’t do anything.”
Walter felt this way for the remainder of his junior year, then the entirety of his senior year. He took GED classes from home, mainly in bed—alienating the few friends he had at school. Deep in the cloud, there were just two things that slowly brought him slivers of normalcy: skiing with his mountain friends and a website called Newschoolers.com…