The direct approach can be the most nerve-wracking, but it's like pulling off a Band-Aid -- a little sting and then you're done. However, some girls prefer a more indirect route. Here are some suggestions.
Text/e-mail: This relieves some of the pressure of having a face-to-face conversation, which can help, but the trade-off is the delay in getting an answer. Plus, with e-responses, there is no emotion, facial expression or tone of voice. So, once you have your answer, there is no subtext to decipher.
Social network: These days, just about everyone has a Facebook, MySpace or Twitter account, which provide another way to touch base and ask a guy out. Again, the pressure of doing it face-to-face is off, but it's harder to gauge the response and the reaction. Stick to private messages or online chats instead of asking him out on his wall for everyone to see.
Friend of a friend: This approach is tried and true. Have your friend mention to the guy or his friend that you would like to go out. This provides a great shield, but do beware of what's lost in translation. Remember the childhood game, "Telephone"? Someone starts off by whispering a phrase to another person, and it goes around the room until everyone has heard it. However, the initial phrase, "I like ice cream," may turn into "Your mother wears eye cream" by the time the game is over. The only way to ensure the accuracy and intent of a message is to deliver it yourself.
Love letters: Much like the love sonnets of William Shakespeare or the poetry of Lord Byron, the written word is very important in courtship. You probably don't want to sit down and write him a poem or a haiku, but a note slipped to him during class, dropped in his locker or sent via a friend is another way to ask a guy out. Again, you run the risk of the messenger losing the note, so you may want to deliver it yourself. Secret admirers make great characters in movies and books, but in real life, it's nice to know who's doing the asking.