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5 Reasons Why High School and College Are Different

Group of graduates throwing their capsI remember wondering what the transition to college was going to be like — both academically and socially. Now, as a second-year college student, I realize that knowing the differences between high school and college can help you make the most of your college experience.

1. College is a Choice

The biggest difference between college and high school is that high school is mandatory. It’s also free. If you are in college, it’s because you are choosing to be there to further your education. You are also paying for it, so there’s a sense of obligation to be as successful as possible.

2. You Schedule Your Own Time

In high school, your day is structured by the school. You are scheduled to be in certain places at certain times. In college, however, you get to create a schedule that works for your life and take classes that interest you as they’re related to your degree program. Another way college differs is that you can have longer breaks between classes and you get to decide how you want to spend this time. You can grab lunch with friends, study in the library or student center, or even workout at Mount Fitness here on campus. Students get the freedom to choose how they want to spend their down time.

3. Academics are More Difficult

Courses in college are more intense than in high school. This is partly because classes don’t meet every day, but it’s also because professors require students to fully understand the material they are teaching. After all, your homework is applicable to your future career. It’s important that college students understand they are responsible for doing their work, showing up to and participating in class and taking notes. Unlike in high school, professors won’t “hold students’ hands”or make sure they’re doing their work before it’s due. Professors want their students to learn and succeed, but as a young adult, you are the one responsible for your own success, not your professor. Take advantage of their office hours when you have questions, they are always happy to help.

4. Students are Different

One of my favorite things about the Mount, and community colleges in general, is the diverse learning environment. In high school. you are surrounded by peers who are the same age, from the same region, and have similar outlooks on life. At community college, you have the opportunity to talk to many types of people in many different age groups, each with different points of view and personal experiences. Having this diversity in the classroom allows for more engaging and in-depth conversations. One of my professors in my first year of college always said, “I’m less interested in what you believe than in why you believe it, because from there we can have a meaningful conversation.” This always led to interesting discussions rather than heated debates.

5. You Are in Control

My last piece of advice for transitioning from high school to community college is to learn how to advocate for yourself. In high school, guidance counselors are making sure students are signed up for the appropriate classes that put them on the right path to graduate. In college, counselors are more than happy to help you with these things, but you have to initiate the conversation and be confident enough to reach out and ask for guidance when you need it. Inquire about your degree program and the steps needed to graduate or transfer. Ask advisors questions and make sure you feel comfortable and confident with your plan.


[headshot] Aisha Schor, Media Communications

About the Author: Aisha Schor is a Media Communications major at MWCC. She is a contributing writer for the News Center.