The Differences Between High School and College

Hey yall!

Your entire senior year I know your teachers have been telling you that “This won’t fly in college” or “You won’t be able to do that in college” and sometimes they can be right, but most of the time they are actually wrong. I wanted to dismiss some of the myths about how hard college is or how awful dorm life is and more, as well as point out some of the differences in college and high school.

My Drifting Desk | Conquer College. The Difference Between High School and College

Class Size

One of the main differences between college and high school would be the size of your classrooms. Now, every college is different but at OSU I can be in a 200+ lecture hall for a class, compared to my 25 high school class room. This can be intimidating to most. To others, this may not seem like a big deal.

With large lecture halls I advise getting there early to get the seat you want. Most people will start to sit on the outsides and if you come late you’ll be forced to crawl over people to get into the middle of the row and that’s never fun.

Also with large lecture halls it can be hard to see the board, hear the professor, or get your questions answered. Some professors don’t allow questions during lectures because they wouldn’t be able to get through the material with the amount of people and questions they would receive. So if you have questions, are afraid to speak up in a large lecture hall, or you’re not able to ask questions, keep a piece of scrap paper next to you to jot those questions down so you can ask them at the end of lecture, at office hours, or through e-mail. But don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask questions in a large lecture hall if you can!



I know my high school teachers told me college professors would not put up with shenanigans and pretty much be our worst night mare. They always said we have it easy here in high school and will be caught off guard when we get to college.

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That is not the case.

College professors are super nice! Of course you may get that occasional mean one, but they’re not all bad. They genuinely want to help you and want you to succeed. Your college professors are so knowledgable about waaaaay more than the subject they are teaching and I love to meet with them during office hours to learn more from them and to get to know them.

Your professors are more lenient than your high school teachers because they don’t care if you’re on your laptop on Facebook, or texting your bestie, or even sleeping. They still get paid either way and it’s YOUR grade that is going to suffer, not theirs. They will let you sleep, unless of course you’re snoring and disturbing the class. Be nice to your professors, they’re super cool.


Your homework load will definitely increase in college. Your professors don’t care what is going on outside of your life and in your other classes. They don’t know you have 3 papers and 4 projects due, they will assign 15 chapters of reading due at the same time. It’s not their fault, it’s just college. So get used to it.

You will HAVE to put in extra work outside of classes to be successful in college, don’t second guess that one. Be prepared to actually have to work in academics in college if you were always the type to breeze through high school (like me). I had a reality check when I came to college and realized I can’t just show up and pass like in high school. So be prepared.

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The Syllabus

My high school teachers my senior year tried to hand out syllabi for us to follow through the year to get us used to using one in college and I swear my teachers thought this was the law. They treated it so seriously and I always brushed off how they said this is our lifeline in college.

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In college you get a syllabus for every class on the first day and you will need that thing to survive. You need to eat breath and memorize that thing. It has homework, assignments, grading scales, absence policies, contact information, office hours information, and so much more that you need for class. If you lose it, you’re done. If you don’t follow it, you’re done. Please keep your syllabi and treat it like your baby all semester.

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You have so much more time in college than you did in high school. You aren’t forced to go to school for 8 hours a day taking classes you don’t need or care about. You pick your schedule and when you take classes. If you don’t want 8am classes, don’t schedule them. If you want breaks in-between your classes, then so be it. You have more free will in college and it helps your sanity.

The days will go by slower and you will have more time to go to class, do homework, eat, sleep, hang with friends, and relax (if you are good with time management). I felt like high school drug on year after year and now I can’t even believe I already finished 2 years of college. The days are more manageable and enjoyable for me.

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Responsibility + Accountability

College is not the time or the place to act like a child and be dependent on anyone else but yourself. Your mom isn’t here to make sure you get to class, eat your veggies, or have a curfew for you. YOU are responsible for YOU! If you aren’t motivated and self-disciplined enough to wake up on time, eat breakfast, get ready, and get to class then why are you going to college?

You are responsible for getting your own homework done and actually finding time to do it. Your dad isn’t there to keep you home until you finish your homework so you actually do it before hanging out with friends. You have to manage your time, get your priorities straight and learn how to say no to some things in order to get some academics done.

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YOU ARE BROKE NOW. GET USED TO IT. You have joined the #BrokeCollegeProbs club and we are proudly welcoming you in. Your parents aren’t going to give you money to hang with your friends anymore (at least mine aren’t). You don’t have extra money to eat ice cream and pizza everyday. You will be eating off of your meal plan and working 10-12 hours a week for minimum wage to make extra money for gas and other bills, still leaving you broke.

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Class Structure

You know when in high school your teacher would be done teaching but you’d still have 5 minutes left and everyone would get antsy trying to leave but you can’t? Or how about when the bell rings and your teacher is still teaching and they say “The bell doesn’t dismiss you, I do”?

College is the complete opposite.

If your professor is done teaching and you still have 25 minutes left they will let you go early. If your class is over at 9:30 and the teacher is still teaching you will see people starting to leave around 9:28 because they probably have to run all the way across campus in 10 minutes for their next class.

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This one is a doozie. I wasn’t the one to party in high school or college so I can’t really speak on the differences, just know they’re huge. Also, on a serious note, please know the statistics of sexual assault on college campuses and PLEASE be safe when going to them. Always bring your own alcohol, never let it out of your sight, stay with your friends, and stay cognizant when partying. I would hate for anything bad to happen. It is sad that I even have to WARN you to be safe at parties because men should be able to handle themselves and be decent human beings on their own, but of course they can’t and “boys will be boys” UGH THAT MAKES ME SO MAD. But that is a different story for a different time.

Just know that college parties involve more alcohol, dancing, and skimpier outfits. Enjoy them! Have fun, but ultimately be safe!

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Ehh. Dating in college isn’t really easy to decipher because most people just want to party and ‘have fun’ in college so trying to find a guy who will actually want to settle down and date can be tricky until maybe your 3rd year.

Just know that if your roommate is bringing someone home then you will also be there. There is NO PERSONAL SPACE IN COLLEGE. Your roommate will be kissing in your personal space, and doing the dirty in your personal space. Try and have some sort of code for you and your roommate so you don’t come home and walk in on something you don’t want to see.

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This has got to be the most disappointing difference between high school and college. You will no longer enjoy home made meals and eat good. You will be forced to eat cafe food, college dining hall food, Ramen Noodles, and pizza every day of your life. It gets real old real fast. And like we already established you are broke and can’t afford to go out to eat unless it’s at Taco Bell because all of their food is disgustingly cheap.

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I hope you’re ready for all of the ups and downs of college!

My Drifting Desk | Conquer College


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