50 Differences Between College and High School

From Where You Live to What You Learn, Nearly Everything Has Changed

Young people in a college library
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Sometimes, you need a little reminder of the differences between high school and college. You could need motivation about why you want to go to college or why you want to stay in college. Either way, the differences between high school and college are vast, stark, and important.

College vs. High School: 50 Differences

In college ...

  1. No one takes attendance.
  2. Your instructors are now called "professors" instead of "teachers."
  3. You don't have a curfew.
  4. You have a roommate who you didn't know until right before you moved in together.
  5. It's totally acceptable if your professor is late to class.
  6. You can stay out all night without anyone caring.
  7. You don't have to go to assemblies.
  8. You don't need a permission form to watch a movie in class.
  9. You don't need a permission form to go somewhere with your school/classmates.
  10. You can pick what time your classes start.
  11. You can nap in the middle of the day.
  12. You can work on campus.
  13. Your papers are much longer.
  14. You get to do real science experiments.
  15. Your goals in your classes are to learn things and pass, not pass an AP test for credit later.
  16. Group work, while still lame sometimes, is much more involved.
  17. There's no busy work.
  18. There are museums and exhibits on campus.
  19. Campus-sponsored events happen much later at night.
  20. You can drink at school-sponsored events.
  21. Nearly every event has some kind of food.
  22. You can borrow books and other research material from lots of schools.
  23. Your student ID gets you a discount — and now a little respect, too.
  24. You'll never be able to get all your homework done.
  25. You can't turn in fluff and expect to get credit for it.
  26. You don't get an A just for doing the work. You now have to do it well.
  27. You can fail or pass a class depending on how you do on one exam/assignment/etc.
  28. You're in the same classes as the people you live with.
  29. You're responsible for making sure you still have enough money in your account at the end of the semester.
  30. You can study abroad with much less effort than you could in high school.
  31. People expect a much different answer to the "So what are you going to do after you graduate?" question.
  32. You can go to grad. school when you're done.
  33. You have to buy your own books — and lots of them.
  34. You have more freedom to choose the topics about things like research papers.
  35. A lot more people come back for Homecoming/Alumni Weekend.
  36. You have to go to something called "language lab" as part of your foreign language class.
  37. You're no longer the smartest person in the classroom.
  38. Plagiarism is taken much more seriously.
  39. You'll learn how to write a 10-page paper on a 10-line poem.
  40. You're expected to give money back to your school after you graduate.
  41. For the rest of your life, you'll always be a little interested to see where your school ranks in the annual rankings done by newsmagazines.
  42. The library stays open 24 hours or more extended hours than High School.
  43. You can nearly always find someone on campus who knows more than you about a subject you're struggling with — and who is willing to help you learn.
  44. You can do research with your professors.
  45. You can have class outside.
  46. You can have class at your professors' houses.
  47. Your professor might have you and your classmates over for dinner at the end of the semester.
  48. You're expected to keep up on current events — and connect them to what you're discussing in class.
  49. You really do need to do the reading.
  50. You'll attend classes with other students who want, instead of have, to be there.
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Your Citation
Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "50 Differences Between College and High School." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/differences-between-college-and-high-school-793194. Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2023, April 5). 50 Differences Between College and High School. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/differences-between-college-and-high-school-793194 Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "50 Differences Between College and High School." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/differences-between-college-and-high-school-793194 (accessed June 10, 2023).