So, you did well in high school. You got great grades, graduated near the top of your class, and you’re going to the college of your dreams on a fantastic scholarship.

Thinking back to the last few years of high school, a few memories probably stand out in your mind.

You had football practise everyday with some of your best friends who became more like a family.

That time you worked up the courage to ask that cute girl in English class out to the movies, and she said yes.

You had close relationships with your teachers, and managed to do well in their classes without trying too hard – it all seemed to come naturally to you.

If think sounds like you, you might be wondering…

“High school was awesome – will college be the same?”

In some ways, yes and in others, no.

As you prepare to go off to college, there are some things you should know.

Here are the top 3 ways college will be different from high school:

You won’t be on your own, but you do make your own choices now.

In high school, you lived with your parents. They had some basic rules for you to follow – be home by 11, homework has to be done before going out with friends, do your laundry (including your towels) twice a week and no friends of the opposite sex in your bedroom.

These were all pretty standard, and by the end of high school you knew them in and out, no problem.

As soon as you go off to college, these rules no longer apply, and it’s up to you to make smart choices for yourself.

You have the freedom to go out with your friends whenever you want. There is no one to enforce your curfew, or remind you to do your laundry. You are responsible for your own decisions at college, but if you are smart, you’ll continue to make good choices.

It’s probably still a good idea to finish your homework before going out with friends, and it’s definitely still a good idea to wash your towels twice a week.

As for having friends of the opposite sex in your bedroom, use your judgement. One of the most interesting things about going off to college is that you’ll have to use your judgement to determine what is best a lot more when no one is looking over your shoulder to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.

You should also remember, that it’s okay to make some wrong choices. It won’t be the end of the world (even though it may feel like it), and that’s how you learn.

Your friend groups, and the things you do for fun, will probably change.

In high school, you see your friends every day – you sit next to them in class, eat lunch with them in the cafeteria, and walk home together after school. You hang out on weekends and everyone knows each others schedules.

In college, that changes.

You classes aren’t on a set schedule, you don’t get a lunch break at the same time as your friends, and you probably won’t finish class at the same time as them either. Unless your high school friends are in the same major as you, you probably won’t see them very often during the day.

And this is okay. You’ll make new friends in your classes, and you can still see your old friends on the weekends or after you’re both done for the day. It will take a little more work to organize your schedules, but if it’s important to you to maintain contact, you’ll make it happen.

The things you do with your friends for fun will probably also change when you get to college.

Maybe you’ll join the Hiking Club, or the Softball team.

College is the perfect time to try everything you’ve ever thought you might like, and in the process you’ll find some new hobbies and some new friends to do those hobbies with.

The most important thing when it coming to making friends and having fun in college is to just get out there and talk to people, and don’t be afraid to try different things.

 The learning experience is very different, and you only get out of it what you put in. 

Depending on your college, the class sizes might be A LOT larger than what you were used to in high school. That means that your professors have less time to get to know the students, and there is a lot less hand-holding to get everything done.

Professors don’t care if you didn’t do the homework. They don’t care if you didn’t read the textbook, and they don’t care if you didn’t study for your test. If you didn’t take notes, or missed a class and don’t know what material was covered, it’s up to you to figure that out – your prof won’t come hand you the work you misses in a nicely put together package.

It is your responsibility to ensure you’re not missing anything and that you’re keeping up with your deadlines. Your professors will be there to help you if you’re not understanding the material or having a hard time grasping the concepts, but it’s up to you to attend their office hours or email them and let them know that you have questions.

The amount of knowledge you gain is proportional to how much studying you do. The amount of help you receive is proportional to how much help you ask for. No one is going to assume you need (or want) help just because you bombed a test – you need to seek it out, and take responsibility for your learning.

There is a bit of a learning curve to get used to the college experience, but once you do, you will have the time of your life. Your college is filled with new friends to meet, new things to learn and new experiences to try.

In short, College is not the same as high school… not even close…

It’s better.

Originally published at