Transitioning from high school to college is one of the most important and unique experience in an individual’s life. The level of responsibility increases when we start college after completing high school. The work load is significantly more and the classes are harder. The expectations that our professors have from us are different from what our teachers expected from us in high school. This is when we realize that we have transitioned from secondary level education to higher education. The freshman year is a unique experience for everyone. Some people are able to adjust to the new circumstances right away and some struggle with it for significant amount of time. High school and college both are stepping stones to further education or getting ready to join the job force. Attending college increases the possibility to get a higher salary and a better job.
The learning in elementary school, middle school and high school is the standard set by the government. Education till high school is also usually free and compulsory for everyone. Everyone has to attend college till they reach the age of eighteen. College education is a path that a person chooses after graduating from high school. College education is very expensive and most of the time students have to rely on student loans, grants or scholarships for financing. The interest rates for almost 8 million students may rise from 3.4% to 6.8% from July 2012, onwards (Time). It will be even most expensive to attend college, with the interest rates going up. The type of classes and level of learning is usually predetermined for high school students but it’s a completely different ball game when it comes to college. The students are free to choose which subjects and fields do they want to study. They can apply to the colleges that they want to attend and they would get accepted if they have satisfactory SAT or other standard test scores. They also have the opportunity to choose the classes that fit their timings.
Almost all the students get a job to support themselves through college. They have to balance between work and studies at the same time. It was a hard task to balance my work and studies in the beginning when I started college. I was trying to decent amount of money to be able to support myself and also not work so many hours that it would be hard for me to complete my homework or focus on my studies. I took a lot of credits in my first semester and I was finding it hard to strike a balance between work and studies. Ultimately, I found that I had no time for myself and I always found myself running between my classes and two of my jobs. It had started to take a toll on me but things got much better when I got another job that paid me well and I had to work less number of hours to earn the same amount of money. Finally, I could focus my classes and get the best out of this experience. I also had to transition from high school’s predetermined schedules to managing my time on my own. However, it was a good experience because I found myself becoming a more responsible person as a result and I discovered that my success or my failures are my own and I am responsible for both. No one was telling me anymore to take responsibilities for my actions. I was automatically responsible for them and there were times when I had to take some ethical decisions on my own and I am glad I made the right ones.
The size of classes is another big difference between high school and college. The number of students in a high school class is about 35 or even less whereas it’s about a 100 in an undergraduate class. It is easier to get teacher’s attention in high school and it is easier for the teacher to focus on the students because of the small class. On the other hand, college classes are comparatively crowded and it is hard for the professors to give personal attention to each student. Students are usually encouraged to learn as much as they can in the class and they don’t have to do a lot of homework in high school when compared to college where students are expected to study at least two to three hours a day. The amount of reading a high school student and a college student is expected to do is very different. A college student is expected to invest a lot of time reading than a high school student is. A college student needs to read the books and class material more often to be able to complete the class assignments and get good scores in the exams. The text books expenses are very different in high school and college.
Books are usually free of charge in high school but students have to spend between two hundred to five hundred dollars each semester on books, in college. I did not know much about how to acquire books for cheap when I started college so I spent around four hundred dollars on books. As I spent more time in the college and interacted with senior students, I found out that there were other ways to acquire books that would not cost as much. Moreover, I learned how to compare prices online for books or how to get in contact with students who finished the same class and might be willing to sell the books. I also tried renting books from some renowned companies it worked out well for me. This was a lesson on how to save money while get the resources I needed to perform well in my classes. I had to worry about my finances like every other student in college and being resourceful and willing to learn from others, went a long way.
The style of teaching and resources of instruction are very different in high school and college. The teachers usually give short assignments in class and they would directly approach a student if they feel that a student might be struggling with the material taught in class. The college professors, on the other hand, would expect a student to be more independent and directly approach them in case they are facing any problem with the class. The high school teachers are usually available anytime for the students but college professors usually have office hours that the students are expected to use if they have any questions or concerns about the class. Teachers are concerned about regular attendance in a high school but college professors might not, none the less, they would lower a student’s final grade if they have been absent a lot. The style of exams and grading rubric are also very different in high school and college.
Many students stay in dorms or live away from home while studying in college. Sharing the apartment with a roommate and “living on ramen noodles” can be another experience for college students. Most of the students move out of their parents’ house when they start college and get their own place, either in a dorm or share an apartment with roommates. This is a chapter of their life which they enjoy to the fullest while being broke. It is a great experience for most of the students. College years might be the best years of their life. The social life in high school is very different from college life. There are instances when the young students have to take decisions and make good judgments while being in social gatherings. They are on their own many a times to make good decisions. I have been in several situations where I was given a choice and I was supposed to make a decision which was best for me. I am glad that I took the decisions that were best for me. Dorm living provides a variety of experiences for colleges students; however, it also puts them at risk of falling into traps of drugs among other dangerous habits. “People sometimes wind up making choices and living life styles that really don't fit them. A student may be studying accounting when he or she really wants to be an artist, or he or she may have a wide circle of friends, but not really have the kind of intimate relationships that feel fulfilling” (UF Counseling and Wellness Center)
Making the right kind of friends is more important than making the right kind of friends in high school. Our friends and classmates are the ones with whom we spend most of our time during our college life. We live with them, go to school with them and usually spend every waking moment with them. I can tell from personal experience that keeping company of good students and decent human beings is very important when we are at college because it becomes a home away from home. When I joined college, couple of my close friends from my high school also joined with me and we spent a lot of time together and one of them even became my room- mate. It was a daunting experience for me because I had not lived away from home before I moved out to attend college. I happened to make friends with students who were into a few bad habits and I often felt that they were not doing the right thing. My friends from my old schools came to my rescue and had a conversation with me about the new company I was keeping. I actually saw their point and broke off with my new friends.
When I look back, I feel that I am really glad that I made the decision to step away from the people who might have put me in difficult situations. Choosing the right company is one of the many decisions that the college students have to make because we spend a lot more time with our college friends than with our friends in high school.
In conclusion, I would like to point out that high school and college both are unique and enriching experiences for students. They are important milestones in a person’s life and they might prove to be life changing events. When individuals move on from being a high school graduate to be a college student, they take the important step in making their lives better and enriched. The experiences they have in the journey are few of the most important in their life long journey.
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Webley, Kayla. "Students, Your Loan Interest Rate Is About to Double." Time. Time, 20 Mar 2012. Web. 20 Mar 2012.
"Stress and College Students." UF Counseling and Wellness Center. University of Florida, n.d. Web. 20 Mar 2012.