5 Changes from High School to College and How to Adapt

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If you’re like me, you were nervous and at the same time excited to start college. You figured it would be different than high school, but didn’t know exactly what to expect. In this post, I’ll show you five changes from high school to college and what implications that has for your studying, social life and free time.

#1: Less schedule

One of the big changes from high school to college is that you really set your own schedule. Sure, you have classes, but in my experience most of the classes weren’t mandatory. The best teachers can do is tie a participation grade to your attendance and hope you show up to receive the points that could make or break your “A”. This should be a good incentive for you to go to class, but it wasn’t always for me. Your freedom is both a boon and a drawback. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and there are lots of distractions on a college campus like parties (which we’ll mention later) and hanging out with friends.

Try to use some time management strategies like blocking out your study time and taking breaks as often as you need. Also, beware of early morning classes. After a long night of partying or Netflix binging, you may find it difficult to muster the strength to get up and go to an 8AM class. To get up on time, I use this alarm now- it’s quite annoying and effective.

Changes from high school to college schedule
Don’t be this guy


#2: Less cliques

In high school, you may have noticed that students were self-segregating into cliques. These cliques can form on any number of factors like race or shared interests. If you went to a big, academically lax high school, you may have felt the effects of cliques more heavily than someone in a smaller, more rigorous school. However, as people mention in this thread, one of the changes from high school to college is college doesn’t really have cliques aside from Greek life. You may find this a relief or you may find it upsetting depending on the kind of person you are, but college offers a chance to mingle with everyone and experience new viewpoints.


Changes from high school to college cliques
Groups form spontaneously in college

#3: More (or less) rigor

Some high schools are more concerned with getting everyone to graduate than getting top AP, SAT and ACT scores. In these situations, you may find the changes from high school to college to be a struggle. You might face classes that you weren’t prepared for and a wide open schedule that forces you to be better at time management. Or, maybe you were at a top prep school and took a lot of AP classes. Then, going into a major like Business, like I did, you may find yourself with a whole lot of free time on your hands because your classes are so easy. Either way, you definitely want to avoid these bad study habits and pick a group of friends that motivate you. This way, you will do well no matter your circumstances.

#4: More Financial Responsibility

In high school, you probably lived with your parents and maybe worked a job to earn some spending money. And that was it. Now, in college, you’ll be the one responsible for paying for the enormous cost of college. However, studies show that students are becoming less financially responsible. I know it can be tempting to eat out and go to movies all the time, but it’s important to have a budget and stick to it to save money where you can.

In college there are many opportunities for cheap entertainment. You can sometimes get into museums and parks free or discounted with your student ID. Also, there are often lectures, exhibits or sporting events on campus free for students. A great way to earn money is an on-campus job. Often, working for the university allows you to study while on the clock, earning money for very little effort. These strategies will help you adapt to the financial changes from high school to college.


Changes from high school to college financial responsibility
Chuck Norris’s simple yet effective solution to loan debt

#5: Parties

I looked forward to parties more than anything else before going into college. I thought I would be free to experiment, be myself, meet new people and drink dangerous amounts of alcohol. All of that was true. Turns out, parties weren’t so great for me as I got wasted and had regrets after every single one. Parties can be a fun experience, but you’ve got to know the pros and cons before you jump in. Alcohol can be a huge factor in sexual assault, and underage drinking deaths continue to rise. Also, statistically, the more time you spend drinking, the worse your GPA will be, according to a study referenced here. So bottom line, just be careful, and get an Uber home.

Changes from high school to college parties
Looks exciting, doesn’t it?

Did you enjoy this list? If you’re a current or former college student, did you think of anything missing that you want to add? If so, share it in the comments. When I was just going into college, I wanted to be a successful “A” student. However, I wasn’t prepared for the challenges of college with a guide like this. I hope you will learn from it. If you liked this post, check out our Ultimate SAT Guide. Good luck and have fun!

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