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Transitioning from High School to College

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Colleges and high schools are both institutions that exist to educate students, but there are a lot of differences between the two.

Making the transition from high school to college is a big step for everyone and it involves a lot more than getting used to living in a dorm or studying more often.

You can find some information below that should help make the transition from high school to college a little smoother.

Differences Between High School and College

It happens to the best of us—even high school valedictorians can be in for a rude awakening after taking their first college exam, and extremely outgoing sociable people can wind up homesick.

Most people usually know that college classes are larger than they were in high school, but the newfound freedom that comes along with living on your own for the first time can cause some getting used to.

Living Arrangements

During high school, you most likely lived at home rent-free with your parents and siblings. Many college students live on campus in dorm rooms while others rent apartments off campus. Even if your campus room and board is figured in with your yearly tuition and you don’t receive a monthly bill, you’re paying dearly to be living away from home for the first time. The majority of college students have roommates; dorms for one person are rare and pricier than dorms for two or more.

Personal Freedom

The newfound freedom that comes along with being a college student is exciting, but it’s important to find the right balance. Staying out until 3 AM “just because you can” might seem like a good idea at the time, but when your alarm clock rings at 7:30 you might decide to stay in bed and skip your 8 AM class. Friends and parties are an accepted part of the college experience, but you’re there to get an education— constantly missing classes because you were out drinking can affect your grades.


Speaking of grades, they’re handled a bit differently in college than they were back in high school. Most college courses do not involve homework, which was normal and expected during high school. This means that term papers and tests scores will account for your entire final grade in a college course—and most likely there won’t be any way to earn extra credit points to make up for flunking an exam.


There seems to be a misconception that college professors are rude and uncaring compared to high school teachers, but that’s not exactly the truth. Most professors assume that students who need extra help will ask for it, and if they don’t it’s their own fault. Some college classes are so large that they meet in auditoriums, so it’s no wonder that professors may not learn every single student’s name by the end of the semester.

Class Schedules

During high school, classes are held one immediately after another for seven or eight hours straight. You’ll probably be pleased to know that college doesn’t work that way. You might have your first class at 8 AM and your next class at 6 PM. Some days you might not have any classes at all! Most college classes meet two or three days per week, as opposed to the daily classes that you experienced in high school.

There are other noticeable differences between high school and college, but as long as you realize that it’s okay to ask for assistance when you need it, you should be fine. Good luck!


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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