High school and college life essay: examples and tips

In your first years of college, most assigned essays will be relatively simple. After all, professors are to ensure a smooth transition from high school to college. So, one of the possible essay tasks you get may be comparing and contrasting high school and college life. All in all, you should be more or less familiar with compare & contrast essays, so the structure itself should not be much of a problem.

Yet, when it comes to the actual contents, most students get lost. First of all, it’s not that easy to figure out all the differences between high school and college life in your first weeks of studying. Then again, it’s not always clear what to pay attention to in the actual paper — after all, professors and first-year students are often interested in different aspects of college life. Simply put, your professor will probably not like to read about moving away from your parents or partying with new friends.

So, at first glance, the most appropriate aspects to focus on would be:

  •  Freedom to study subjects you are genuinely interested in
  •  A bright chance for a future career
  •  Willingness to work hard
  •  Practical experiments not available in high school
  •  Flexible hours and an opportunity to apply newly learned skills in practice
  •  And more of the same sort

Of course, you should not make an essay sound nerdy — so some info about newly gained freedom may prove useful. However, you should not place the strongest emphasis on that. Besides, there are plenty of academic and personal differences between high school and college — so let’s try to give you more insight into this topic.

High school vs. college: comparing similarities and differences

Planning and responsibility for a student

The first difference is that high school students are still treated like kids. Teachers make sure they do everything in time, reminding of upcoming tests, deadlines, etc. In college, students face greater responsibility. Any upcoming tests or exams are student’s duty and student’s responsibility. Not only they are supposed to arrive in class on a due date, but they also have to get ready for any tests alone. No one is going to sit with them through all the list of questions. Normally, the class syllabus is given during the first lecture (arriving on which is, once again, a student’s responsibility). However, it’s also possible to get one later.

Flexible hours

In high school, everything goes according to plan, and most students visit the same classes every other week, at the same time. Being present in a class is a must, and your attendance plays a part in a final GPA grade. As for college, most students have some kind of a fixed curriculum, even though not as fixed as in high school. Besides, they can skip certain lectures, and most professors won’t even notice. On the other hand, attending every class gives college students a chance to learn new things, which is the main reason they are in college. Flexible college hours can be a plus and a minus. All in all, this is a student’s choice and a student’s responsibility. So, college students are, once again, given a taste of adult life.

Homework: amounts and logic

In high school, it’s really not that difficult to write all of your homework assignments yourself. Most of the time, teachers give explicit instructions and, if you do not understand something, you can ask any questions in class. At college, the amount of homework is often overwhelming, and it’s not that easy to cope with everything on your own. Besides, not all professors welcome questions (especially off topic ones) during their lectures, and not all of them are ready to discuss every little detail of home assignment during their office hours.

Students are supposed to research and learn a lot of things on their own. For example, academically acceptable formats (like APA, MLA, etc.) are not widely discussed in class, so students are supposed to learn their intricacies at home. On occasion, the amount of homework and its specifics make students turn to custom writing companies, just like ours.

Emphasis on results and personal interests

School curricula do not take students’ interests into account. There is a plan, and both students and teachers stick to it — rather robotically, to say the least. In college, personal interests play a greater part. Often, students are free to choose their own curricula, and the results matter more than the actual ways of achieving them. Simply put, it does not matter how you study, as long as you master new skills and know how to apply those in practice.

Attitude to mastering each skill

Most schools give a rather broad program for each class, no matter if it is physics or literature. Most high school programs are usually a general overview of each subject, while college allows students to study subjects they choose in-depth. This is more exciting and more challenging at the same time. The goods news is that most professors have office hours and some of them are ready to explain subject intricacies to an interested student.

Great freedom, great responsibility

High schools are not exactly prisons, even though it often feels like it. Teachers and parents alike control every step — from hours of school attendance to completing homework assignments in due time. College offers more freedom and, thus, more responsibility. For example, students may choose not to attend the class, but they are still expected to pass the final test. So, if they do not attend, they will have to study everything on their own, which is way more challenging. The list of similar choices can go on for pages, but essentially, it all comes down to responsibility for one’s actions.

This is a quick list of the main differences between high school and college. Summing it up, college students are treated as independent adults, with all the consequent pluses and minuses. In a way, one can say that the most valuable skill any student learns in college — regardless of his major — is making informed choices and accepting responsibility for one’s decisions.

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