10 Ways College is Different from High School

Once you start going to a university, you’ll see that college is different from high school. The two are completely different worlds. Once you reach college, you have all the freedom that you never had in high school. Here are a few big deal changes to expect in your college life.

1. Classes

Classes are much different in college. First off, you won’t necessarily have back-to-back classes. Depending on how you shape your schedule, your days will vary. Some people like to load up and take all their classes in two or three days while others prefer to have just two classes a day. The time between your classes on any given day will vary. Sometimes you may only have 10 minutes between two classes, sometimes you have 4 hours.  What you do with your time between classes is up to you. For the first time, you get the power to determine your schedule and free time. Try not to use all of it on Netflix.

2. Professors

No more teachers? No more Mrs. or Mr.? Teachers genuinely care about your well-being, but not all your professors are going to care deeply for you. If you skip class, then that’s your problem, not your professor’s. It’s up to you to get your work done and show up to class. You won’t get any discipline, like a phone call to home or detention. Instead, your professor will just drop your grade. That being said, professors are real people. They have many more students to worry about than your high school teachers do. Professors aren’t going to know you on a personal level, unless you put forth the effort to make yourself known to them.  If you go to your professor’s office hours to seek help and show them that you are putting effort into their class, they will take that into account.

3. Friends

College doesn’t have the “cliquey” feel that high school does. There are so many more people on a college campus than your typical high school— there’s somebody for everybody at college. Unlike high school, where you spend most of your time after school at sports, doing extracurriculars, and homework; a large part of your free time will be spent with your friends at college. You form a different bond with your college friends simply because you live on the same campus — or in the same apartment — with these people. All of your crazy college stories will involve these wonderful people.


4. Finals

Finals week is absolute hell. It’s nothing like high school, where some subjects have in-class finals and others are scattered through the month of June. In college, midterms and finals are bunched into one week. During finals week you’ll be living off of coffee and Ramen noodles. You’ll try to find the coziest place in the library to take a nap. It’s chaos.

5. Family

In high school, your parents embarrass you all the time. When you leave for college, you’ll find yourself calling your parents much more often than you expected to. Just hearing your dorky parents’ voice on the phone or their attempt at Facetiming will give you a sense of familiarity. College is nice, but so is snuggling your mom.

6. Eating

Say goodbye to your mom’s cooking, and hello to the dining halls. For the first time, you determine what you eat every day. You want to eat burgers and fries every day? Go for it! Just don’t be surprised by the freshman fifteen that sneaks up on you.  It’s up to you to choose to eat healthy. Try to change up your meals every day rather than sticking to your usual in the dining hall. Also, don’t forget to eat! I know it sounds silly, but when you’re busy all day with classes and homework, you might forget about hitting up the dining hall.


7. Relationships

There is an innocence about high school relationships that’s hard to find in college. In high school, the times you mustered up the courage to talk to your crush at his locker were the biggest deal. People aren’t necessarily as concerned with relationships in college. Everyone is busy doing their own things and may not want to be committed to another person. Many people are cool with hooking up or doing the “friends with benefits thing.” At college, you’ll also be meeting and interacting with people from all over the world with unique personalities. If you felt like you had slim pickings in high school, you’ll be pleasantly surprised in college.

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8. Partying

Whether you partied in high school or not, the party scene in college is going to be much different than you’re used to. From house parties to dorm room pregames to full on ragers at the bar; college is known for the party life. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you have to party, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a big part of the experience.

9. Money

Of course, this depends on your situation, but many students will quickly start to understand the meaning of being a poor college student. You can blame a big part of this on those lovely little things we like to call textbooks. If you weren’t aware already, unlike high school, most college classes require textbooks…and believe me, they aren’t cheap. Then you add in all of your “weekend extracurriculars” (cough, beer, cough), and you soon realize your wallet is taking a hard hit. Might I suggest looking for a part time job?

10. Responsibility

When it all really comes down to it, the main difference between high school and college is responsibility. You are no longer living in your parents’ house, you no longer have a curfew to abide by, you no longer have someone monitoring your study habits or cooking you breakfast as soon as you wake…nope, all of this responsibility lies in your hands now. But that’s what makes college great – it’s the chance for you to grow as a person and get a taste of the real world!


The best part about going from a high school to a college student, is that this is a huge milestone in your life. So live in the moment and enjoy every part of it. You only get one version of your awesome crazy years.

Featured image source:
Kavita Singh

Kavita is a student at State University of Plattsburgh and will be graduating in 2018. She enjoys hosting an on-campus radio show called "Happy Hour."

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