The biggest differences between high school and college

When my freshman year began, I was taken aback at how different college life was from high school life. Although I definitely expected a drastic change, I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as it is. Here are the ten largest differences between the two that I’ve noticed:

  1. The rules are typically more lax. If you’re living on campus, you don’t really have a curfew and can do just about whatever you want, provided you don’t break any school policies. You don’t need your parents to sign forms, you can do it yourself. You can live as you want — if you want to put up a Pokemon poster in your room, then you can. If you want to stay up until 3 AM, you can.
  2. However, you’re responsible in college. If you do break a rule, it’s mostly up to you to handle the consequences — your parents won’t be as useful in getting you out of trouble.
  3. College classes move much faster, especially if you’re on the quarter system. If you have a 15 week semester and meet for class three times a week, you meet 45 times and that’s it. Compare that to high school, where you might have class 180 times in a year. There’s a big difference.
  4. Way more work is done outside of class. Not only do the classes move faster, but you’re typically expected to be studying the material outside of class. In fact, if you don’t, you will have a much harder time grasping it.
  5. Attendance isn’t really mandatory. If you don’t feel like going to class, you can usually miss it and not get in “trouble”, though you will miss out on that day’s material and you risk falling behind.
  6. Your parents aren’t there to hold your hand. If you only passed in high school because your parents were there to push you, you’re going to need to take charge in college if you want to avoid failing out.
  7. Professors aren’t necessarily the best teachers. Professors have a lot on their plate at once, and only one of those things is teaching. Research is a big part of a professor’s life, and many professors just aren’t meant to teach. You’ll need to be ready to compensate.
  8. There are a lot of different types of people. If your hometown is pretty dull and everybody is the same, you’ll be surprised at the huge variety of people in college. For many, you can more easily find cliques that match you.
  9. People are less judgmental. Although there is still a surprising amount of drama in college, most students are more mature than their high school counterparts. So if you approach a random person to start a conversation, they’re much more likely to be open to it and to talk to you.
  10. Everyone has worked to go here. Although there are the students who just come to college to party, every student had to put in at least some effort in order to be accepted into the school. Every student varies on how serious they are about their studies, yet you know that all of them care at least somewhat. In high school, there were many students who didn’t seem to care at all.

What have been the biggest differences you’ve noticed between high school and college?