True Life: High School vs. College

Hello everyone!

I'm going to get straight to it this time -- It's every single high school senior's nagging thought.

What is college really like?! Is it really different from high school, is it a lot harder than high school, am I going to be really awful at college?

These were ALL questions I frequently asked myself and all of my college aged friends. It's totally and completely normal to wonder these things; I wondered about them among many many many more things! I know you want the REAL answers. Based on my experience so far at IU Bloomington, here's the scoop:

Is college super different from high school?

Honestly, yes. For starters, you're LIVING at school. You're submerged in independence, whether you want to be or not. It takes a few weeks to get used to living in a new town, far away from your family and friends who you've known forever. It's totally different, but not in a bad way. It's just different. With this independence comes the responsibility to do your homework, study, go to class, do your laundry, eat regular and healthy meals, and stay active. All of this is on you now. No one is holding you accountable but yourself. So make good decisions!

You don't have to wake up at the crack of dawn every day, or any day. Choosing what time your classes are is a beautiful thing. I never have to wake up before 7:45, and I generally don't have to get up until 8:30. Along with being able to sleep in, you can schedule your classes with breaks between them. Not like the five minutes you're given in high school to walk to and from class -- real, substantial breaks. I have four hours between two of my classes, and I'm able to get a lot of studying done in that time so I don't have to come back and do it after class! This is one of the biggest changes, but also one of the best ones.

In high school, you know or know of pretty much everyone in your class. Here, you have a few close friends, a lot of friend/acquaintances, classmates, people you recognize from passing them everyday on your way to class, and then the vast amount of strangers who you've never seen before and will likely never see again after you do see them! It's very easy to feel small at a university of this size. There are just SO many people. Being completely honest, I still don't know some of the girls who live on my floor (there are 54 of us), let alone the people that live in my entire building. I swear I see someone new in Foster Harper (my dorm) at least once everyday. What is surprising is the amount of people that you recognize purely from seeing them on a daily basis. There are many people that I recognize whenever I go to Gresh, for example, or in the elevator!

There isn't really any classroom/classmate interaction in college like there was in high school. Of my approximately 800 classmates (only the classmates I actually have classes with), I personally know and have become acquainted with or friends with 10 of them. Seriously. Crazy, right? You don't really have socializing time in class. You go to your lecture, the professor gives the lecture, then you leave and go to your next one.

Your sense of "individuality" is more for you now than it is for anyone else. No one really cares if you were "popular" or "nerdy" in high school. No one really cares if you were a student athlete or valedictorian or anything really. You're not in high school anymore, so you kind of have to move on from your high school identity and build your college identity, which can be done by joining clubs, intramurals, going Greek, etc.

No more two hour delays or cancellations, my friends. HOWEVER, professors occasionally cancel class. There is no greater feeling of elation than when this happens. I just experienced it yesterday. Made my whole day.

You can skip class with no repercussions (unless the professor takes attendance -- none of mine do this semester). With that being said, YOU SHOULD STILL GO TO CLASS. Unless you're sick or you have an emergency, you really should go. Personally, if I were to skip any of my classes, I would be really stressed out because you will miss a lot of valuable material. Again, with that being said, I HAVE skipped class twice. It's okay to give yourself a break sometimes as long as you know that you'll be okay without the material. But attend class 99% of the time!

Here's my favorite part: you get to leave class when you finish your tests. It's fabulous. I've never had to stay the entire allotted time for a test, and there have been times where I only had to go to class for 20-30 minutes. It's really, really great.

Are college classes a lot harder than high school classes?

No, they aren't. However, I took honors and AP classes all through high school, so I'm not sure how someone who took academic classes would feel. College classes aren't harder than high school classes, BUT they are pretty different.

Many of my college friends told me that while I was in high school, and every single time I just though, now what the heck does that even mean?

From my experience, it means that you seriously need to study to do well in college. I was lucky in that I rarely had to study in high school. Here, I feel like all I do is study! That's not a bad thing though because I'm acing all of my classes right now, and that's a great feeling. You many also need to do the required readings from the textbook, depending on the class. Seriously, study for your tests. The best method is to review your notes everyday for a week or two before your test.

I have a test almost every week in at least one of my classes, which is really different than high school. After my first test, I checked out my planner to see what the weeks to come were like. To my surprise and disappointment, I have at least one test every week except for one week for the rest of the semester. You will take a lot of tests. You will be expected to know and keep up with the information that you're being given. Then you will slay said test and feel like a protege to Einstein. More or less.

Bottom line is, as long as you attend class and review the material, you'll do great.

So are you going to be really awful at this thing called college?

NO! Stop being such a Negative Nelly, jeez. College is a place for you to thrive. You're supposed to figure out who you are and make lifelong friends and discover a career path that you love, AND YOU WILL. I'm doing that right now. It's definitely a big change, but you get used to it! There are so many people that you will meet, and so many fun things for you to do. I remember being so scared that I wasn't going to fit in and that no one would like me and I wouldn't make friends. Trust me, that anxiety and worry was all for nothing! Don't worry about any of that, just be excited that you're starting a new chapter of your life, and take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way. There will be a lot of them!

In conclusion, college is pretty much a whole different world from high school -- but in a good way! Embrace the change and independence and learn a system that works for you.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! (:

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About The Author
Alyssa ModosEnglish Major, Future Book Editor, Class of 2018, Fort Wayne, IN

I'm an English major and Marketing minor with the dream of working for a Big Five publisher in the Big Apple.

I'm obsessed with my cat, I'm newly addicted to pineapple, and I like to go running for fun. When I'm not at the gym, you can find me buried under blankets in bed watching The Walking Dead. Every Friday is Pizza Friday at my place; it's my own little "slice" (heh heh) of IU Traditions and Spirit.

Follow me around online and through social media to get to know IU and how amazing it is. You'll get to know me, too -- I'm a pretty cool person, just throwing that out there. (:

Be sure to check me out on Spoon University (where I write about delicious, life-changing food) and The Odyssey (where I write about a little bit of everything).