Thanks to stereotypes perpetuated in movies, TV shows, books, and urban legends, everyone knows what it means to be “cool” in high school – it’s basically the embodiment of Regina George and Aaron Samuels from Mean Girls. And since that’s the case, it means that being “lame” in high school is being like Janis Ian and Damian. Although the “real world” isn’t exactly the same as the “girl world” portrayed in Mean Girls, that idea resonated with all of us for a reason – reality can be quite similar. It’s difficult to find a high school where cliques don’t exist, some variation of burn books aren’t written, and popularity contests aren’t hard to win. But then you get to college, and everything changes.
College is not a magical world where cliques don’t exist and everyone is automatically cool, but the rules are definitely different. Things you wouldn’t even dream of doing in high school are suddenly normal, everyday occurrences in college. Some of them are even *gasp* cool. Actually, you know what? Even the most popular kids in college aren’t the same as the popular kids in high school. Things are just different! Don’t believe me? Here are 14 examples of things that are lame in high school, but cool in college:
1. Caring about your grades.
Psh, who goes to the library in high school? Nerds, that’s who. Who goes to the library in college? Everyone who actually understands the importance of their education and wants to get their money’s worth. Be one of those people.
2. Eating in the cafeteria.
In high school, no one wants to eat the soggy salad, mystery meat, or congealed pasta that’s being served in the cafeteria. Brown bagging it is even weirder. College cafeterias are much higher quality – and most students have some sort of meal plan that makes eating at school much less expensive than going to a restaurant. I still crave the chili they served in my dining hall freshman year.
3. Napping in public.
If you fell asleep in class/on the bus/at the movies in high school, your picture was passed to the whole school and you became a laughing stock. You don’t get much sleep in college, so napping in public is actually a skill everyone envies.
4. Carrying a backpack.
Backpacks were made for students, but for some reason, they have become pretty lame in high school – unless you have one with a sleek design, of course. Students often carry large tote bags or no bag at all. In college, students don’t care. Even the “coolest” kids wear backpacks because college textbooks are really effing heavy.
5. Getting to know your teachers.
In the words of Janis Ian in Mean Girls, “Oh I love seeing teachers outside of school. It’s like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs.” No one wanted to be seen as that brown noser who actually liked their teachers. In college, you’re actually encouraged to go to your professors’ office hours and develop a friendly relationship with them. Even better, college professors are often way cooler.
6. Joining clubs.
Cady Heron thought she was too cool to join the Mathletes until she got in trouble. Let me tell you – participation IS cool. Go to college and get involved in anything that piques your interest, whether that’s math, salsa dancing, Greek life, or Quidditch (you’d be surprised how many colleges have Quidditch teams).
7. Slumming it to class.
If someone showed up in an XL t-shirt and baggy sweatpants to high school, there would be major gossip about what is wrong with them. In college, no one bats an eye. Leggings, hoodies, and sneakers are everyday wear. If you still want to wear pink on Wednesdays, go for it, but no one will be mad if you don’t.
8. Making friends at other schools.
High school rivalries are a big deal. The entire varsity basketball team shunned me for a week when I briefly dated a player on a team across town. While many colleges have a competitive edge against another school, bonding with students from other universities is not nearly as frowned upon.
9. Making friends with other cliques.
The cliques that are so stereotypical in high school—jocks, nerds, burnouts, popular kids, etc. – tend to blur after getting to college. You’re allowed to cross the cafeteria, date outside of your circle, and belong to more than one “label.”
10. Making friends with the opposite sex.
By the time you reach college, you’ve realized that the opposite sex doesn’t actually have cooties, and you can befriend them without everyone yelling “…sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G” when you walk down the hall.
11. Talking to your parents.
In high school, you know everything and your parents know nothing. Trust me, this is not true. You’ll want your parents’ advice even more than you’d expect when you’re away at college and will end up calling them with questions a lot. How long does it take to boil pasta? Should a pastel pink shirt be washed with the lights or the darks? Can you please send money?
12. Trying different styles.
If you usually dress preppy and show up one day in hipster chic, your high school peers would think you’re nuts. But college is all about “finding yourself” and if you want to wear blue lipstick one day, you’ll probably get more compliments than insults.
13. Exploring your sexuality.
Adolescence is weird, and all the hormones raging around in everyone doesn’t help matters. You don’t immediately become a mature sexual being as soon as you move into your dorm room, but people do become generally more accepting of sexual preferences and activities. Surprise: you’re not disgusting and weird.
14. Taking alone time.
But it doesn’t suck! In high school, you’re a loser if you sit alone in the cafeteria, say “no” to going to the movies, or skip a party. In college, you realize the importance of spending time by yourself, and you learn to like it. Take time to listen to music, read a book, or go for a walk for some “me time.” If anyone calls you a loser for it, tell them to go back to high school.
Which of these things surprised you the most? What’s cool in your high school? Tell us in the comments.