12 Ways High School and College are Different

As you probably know, high school and college will be different. However, some students do not realize just how different college may be. Therefore, here are 12 ways high school and college can be different. Keep these differences in mind as you are preparing to leave high school and start your college career.

1. Schooling

  • 1. High school: Attending high school is mandatory. If you attend a public school, it is free to attend.
  • College: College is voluntary. However, to get specific types of jobs, you will need to get a higher education to even be considered for a position. While some students are able to get full-ride scholarships to attend college, the majority of students will have to pay something out-of-pocket to attend college.

2. Class Schedule

  • High School: Your class schedule will probably look the same every day. You arrive at school at the same time every day and come home at the same time every day.
  • College: You will choose your classes based on the classes you need and the availability of classes. You might be able to schedule all of your classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and not have to attend classes on Tuesday and Thursdays. Or, you might be able to choose classes that are only in the afternoon, allowing you to sleep in.

3. Attendance

  • High School: You are required to attend class. If you miss too many classes, there will be consequences such as punishment or receiving a failing grade.
  • College: Attendance is typically not required. However, many things may be covered in class that are not included in your textbooks. It will be attractive to sleep in and not attend class. However, even though attendance is not required, it is very important to attend so you will understand the information.

4. Choosing Classes

  • High School: Everyone has to take the same classes and you will be have a handful of electives. Your school counselor might even selective all of your classes and just give you your schedule for the semester.
  • College: Half of the classes you take in college will be required for all students, such as English, Math, and History. However, half of your classes will be specific to your major. You will get to look at the class schedule and sign up for whatever classes you want. You might not have an advisor to help you choose your classes.

5. Class Size

  • High School: You will probably never have a class with more than 35 students.
  • College: It depends on the college you attend. Some of your classes might only have 20 students. But, you might have a lecture class with over 200 students. Some of the first classes you take in college (introductory classes) will have more students than you have ever had in a class.

6. People

  • High School: You will know everyone in all of your classes.
  • College: It depends on the college and the size of the classes. However, you probably will not know everyone. Instead, you might only get to know a handful of your classmates in each class.

7. Studying

  • High School: You might get away with attending class and skimming your textbooks to receive good grades. Some students can get away with studying only a few hours a week.
  • College: College students will typically study two or three hours for each hour they spend in class. For example, if you are taking 15 credits during the semester, you may be studying around 30 hours per week.

8. Grades

  • High School: Most all assignments you have will count towards your final grade. You may also take multiple tests each semester. Therefore, if you do poorly on one test, it may not hurt your final grade all that much.
  • College: College courses may have homework, but it doesn’t always count towards your grade. While this may be an invitation for some students to skip homework, it is important to do the homework whether it counts towards your grade or not. The reason homework is important is because it will help you with the few tests you do take during the semester. Many classes only have a few tests or papers for the entire semester. Therefore, if do poorly on just one test or paper, it make have a huge impact on your overall grade.

9. Books

  • High School: You are able to borrow your books for free. You will only have to pay for them if you lose them or don’t turn them in.
  • College: You will have to pay for all of your textbooks. Don’t forget to shop around for your books* – campus bookstores are not the only places you can purchase books.

10. Living Arrangements

  • High School: You probably live with your parents or another family member. If you share your room, it is probably with a sibling. And, you only share your restroom with your family members.
  • College: There are many different options. If you are attending a college close to home, you could continue living with your parents. Or, you might live in the residence halls with a friend or a randomly selected roommate who might become a great friend. If you’re living in the residence halls, you might have to share the restroom with 50 other students!

11. Contact With Teachers/Professors

  • High School: Classes in high school will be smaller and your teachers will know you well. Most teachers will go out of their way to discuss any issues or concerns they have with your work. For example, if your grades start slipping, your teacher might ask you to meet with them to discuss how to get back on track.
  • College: Contact with professors will be less frequent. You may see your professor in class three hours per week, but they may never see you if you are in a large class. Professors will typically not seek you out to discuss any concerns they have with your schoolwork. Instead, it will be up to you, the student, to seek out the professor to discuss your concerns.

12. Parents

  • High School: You probably live with your parents in high school. Parents might remind you to study because you have an important test coming up, give you an allowance so you can go out with your friends, and give you a curfew.
  • College: Your parents will not be with you in college. You will have to take responsibility for your schedule. Some students may continue receiving money from the parents, while other students will have to get a job to have spending money. And, colleges typically don’t have curfews. Therefore, if you are living on campus, you could stay out all night with no questions ask. You will need to learn to make responsible choices without reminders from your parents.

The big different between high school and college is independence. In high school, you have your parents and teachers looking out for you all the time. However, in college, you will have to take responsibility for yourself.

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2 Comments on “12 Ways High School and College are Different

  1. I’m a junior in high school right now and a lot of my friends are going to be graduating soon. I also only have a year left of high school and so I’ve been thinking a lot about college and the future. Thank you for this post I really enjoyed it!

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