If you are thinking about going to college after high school, you might be wondering how different the experience is going to be. High school is intended to prepare you for adulthood, but college is often where you end up finding yourself and the person you are going to become. 

Of course, there are going to be differences between the two. College gives you more freedom, responsibilities, and ownership of your time than ever before.

It will take some time to get used to these changes, but if you keep up with your classes, readings, and assignments you should have no trouble excelling in college. 

Now, let’s look at some of the largest differences between high school and college and how to navigate them successfully.  

1. College is voluntary and expensive 

Unlike high school where attendance is mandatory and tuition is usually free, college is voluntary with expensive tuition. For this reason, you might want to make sure college is something that you want to do before you rack up thousands in debt.

When applying for college, see if there are any scholarships you can apply for to help cover your costs. 

2. You are 100% responsible for your learning in college 

Don’t expect your college professor to remind you about assignments or reach out like your high school teachers or guidance counselor. Although many college professors will be helpful when students approach them, it’s up to you to make the first move.

Additionally, you will likely have to keep up with your textbook and class readings on your own, and depending on your school, you might not talk about the information you’ve been reading in class so again, ask your professor for clarification if needed. 

3. More diversity 

College is much more diverse than your typical high school, which is usually comprised of students living in the neighborhood.

You will have more opportunities to meet people from different areas of the world, backgrounds, and ages in a college environment. Although this is great for learning new beliefs, cultures, and practices, it might take some time to get used to it if you aren’t used to being around people from different backgrounds, but it’s important and a very good thing.

4. You have more control over your classes 

College gives students more freedom when it comes to choosing classes. Although you will be required to take a certain amount of core credits in areas like Science, English, or Social Sciences there are far more options for students to choose from.

This could include courses about literature, speech, psychology, economics, physics, or biology. The options are almost endless! 

5. You spend less time in the classroom 

In high school, you can expect to be at school from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm each day. You might take six one-hour classes or four 90-minute classes with short breaks between each class. In college, there might be hours between classes, and you’ll find that you spend significantly less time in class.

On average, college students spend 12 to 16 hours in the classroom versus the 30 hours of a high schooler. Don’t let this fool you though! You will need to spend around 2 to 3 hours of studying per hour of class when you’re in college. 

Mat Woods
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Mat Woods

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