The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


How Life at College Is Different Than High School


Almost 70% of recently graduated high school students decide to enter college immediately after graduation. So if you are one of them, you’re not alone.

However, as you transition from high school to college, you’ll realize that while there are similarities between the two, there are also major differences. But don’t worry! We’re here to help make the transition a little smoother for you.

Keep reading for the main differences between high school vs college life.

Time in Class

First and foremost, let’s talk about time in class.

In high school, you’re usually in class for about 7 hours a day, almost the same length of time as a full-time job. In college, you’ll spend about half that amount in class.

Plus you can arrange your schedule so you spend more or less time on campus depending on the day of the week. For example, you could fill your Tuesdays and Thursdays with four classes and just have one night class Monday and Wednesday.

Or you could go the more traditional route and spend 3 to 4 hours a day in class each weekday.

This is a big perk of college over high school, but there are also potential downsides. One of them is that because they have shorter class periods, your college professors will tend to cram information into those sessions. So if you miss class a lot, you’ll probably get behind rather quickly.

Increased Workload

While you spend less time in a classroom in college, you’ll have a much larger workload than you did in high school.

The truth is that it’s possible to get through high school without doing a ton of work outside of class, especially if you avoid honors and AP classes.

But in college, it’s absolutely imperative that you invest time outside of class into your classes. Homework, group projects, essays, and exams are all a part of most university courses.

You’ll also need to get used to preparing for lectures before class. For example, say you’re covering chapter 9 in class.

You should come prepared having read through the textbook chapter already. Many classes even include a quiz to ensure that you did the reading that week.

The good news is that college courses almost always include a syllabus. At the beginning of the semester, you’ll receive this document outlining your reading assignments, homework projects, and exams for the entire class. That way you know exactly what to expect in terms of workload for each of your courses.

Additional Freedom (and Responsibilities)

Here’s another big difference between high school vs college: increased freedom.

In high school, you were legally required to attend class each day. It’s a federal law that kids go to school. That’s why you had to have a parent or legal guardian notify the school when you are absent.

This is not the same in college. There’s no legal requirement that you actually go to class. Because of this, it can be really tempting to skip class when you don’t feel like going.

Maybe you had a late night and don’t want to wake up for your 9 am class. Perhaps some friends have planned a weekend trip and want to leave Friday when you have school. Or maybe you just don’t feel like going one day and want to go to the mall or the movies instead.

Whatever the scenario, in college you don’t have your parents urging you to attend class.

Some college freshmen really struggle with all of this freedom, and never are able to manage it. This leads to them dropping out of class. These college productivity tips can help you avoid this.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. While it’s okay to skip a class or two every once in a while, you should really look at your education as an investment in your future that’s worth your time. You are paying tuition to learn after all.

Textbook Policies

This is another difference that takes many people by surprise. In college, you have to purchase your textbooks.

Throughout your entire educational experience up to this point, your textbooks have been provided to you by your school. But this all changes in university.

Each class will provide you with a list of necessary textbooks for that course. Then you have a couple of options.

You can buy the book brand new. You can look for it used online. You can also sometimes rent textbooks online for a cheaper price too.

The cheapest option? Not buying your textbook and using the copy in the school library. Typically, your university library will stock one copy of each course’s textbook that you can checkout and use there.

But the downside is that there’s only one copy and you have to use it in the library. So what happens if the night before a huge test, you need the copy but it’s being used? Uh-oh.

It’s best to have your own copy, whether you rent or buy.

Keep in mind that some courses use an online version of your textbook that correlates with all of your assignments. In this case, your professor will provide you with a specific link to purchase an access code to the book and you can only get it there.

Cash Money

Last but not least, money is a big difference between high school and college. The most obvious example of this is the fact college costs money in the form of thousands of dollars of tuition.

But this is just one way.

As you graduate high school and enter adulthood, you also take on more financial responsibility in your life. For example, the majority of college kids move out of their parents’ home and have to start paying rent.

This also brings paying for utilities like gas, electricity, and the internet.

You’ll also want to have money to pay for activities to do with friends. This is an essential part of the university experience.

The good news? In college, you have many more opportunities to make money. Now that you’re 18, you’re eligible to work at more companies than you could in high school.

High School vs College: Final Thoughts

There you have it: some of the main differences between high school vs college. Now that you’ve read through them, you should make a plan for your transition.

Soon, you’ll enjoy an amazing university experience.

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