After moving to Naperville, Illinois, in 2000, Panabaker went to Crone Middle School and then Neuqua Valley High School, participating in the speech team. She graduated from high school when she was 14 years old. Panabaker also took ballet and pointe classes up until she was fifteen. In 2003, feeling it was the only way to land acting roles regularly, Panabaker, her sister, and their mother relocated to Los Angeles, California, so she could pursue an acting career. She attended Glendale Community College, studying acting. In 2005, she earned her associate degree and appeared on the national Dean’s List. In 2006, she began her senior year at the University of California, Los Angeles, from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in June 2007, again appearing on the Dean’s List.