Unexpected Differences between High School and College

Once you’ve finally decided you’re going to college, it seems like everyone is constantly telling you, “Be ready! It’s so different than high school!” And that’s when you want to reply, “Okay…but how?!” Sure, you know classes are going to be a little different, but that’s not all. Well, I’m here to clue you in on a few more of those differences you might not be expecting!

You can try out so many new activities, clubs, and organizations.

If you were lucky enough to go to a high school that had a lot of these things already, you might not see this as a big difference. But even if you were involved in high school, it’s still a lot different in college! Here, you can try out so many things you might not have been interested in before. And guess what? Go to a meeting once, and don’t really like it? Chances are you don’t have to stay super involved if you don’t want to. This way you can try out so many new things and really figure out what you like!

Your classes will not be the same as the people around you (most likely).

In high school, almost everyone has to take the same classes at the same time. This made it easy to help each other and compare grades. But in college, everyone is taking completely different classes. This makes it hard to compare yourself to others – but that’s a good thing! Get involved in classes that YOU like and seek help from professors or classmates.

You might find yourself doing better in your classes than you did in high school.

Sure, everyone loves to tell you, “college classes are so much harder.” But what they should be saying is, “college classes are so much different.” College classes are taught in a very different way, but you might actually learn better this way. So don’t assume your grades are going to be awful. Just apply yourself and you might be surprised!

There are many academic resources in place to help you do well.

In high school, it seemed like you had to either understand the topic or just try to scrape by. But in college, there are SO many resources to help you do better if you don’t understand something. Office hours, academic support centers, review sessions before exams, and teaching assistants are all in place to help you do well – so use them!

Finally – it takes a lot of getting used to.

High school was a transition, but probably not a big one. You maybe had to get used to a bigger school, longer classes, or harder subjects. But in college, not only are you getting used to completely new subjects, you’re also learning how to live on your own and be independent. So don’t expect to feel totally comfortable and awesome two days after you move in. For me, getting used to college is a process I’m still figuring out – and I’ll be a junior in the fall! Just give it time and remember that everyone else around you is figuring it out too. Seek out people around you for help and support, and don’t give up! 

-Abby Melvin


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