Despite the fact that it might be everything you know right now, the truth is, high school is not an accurate depiction of the real world. The rules are clearly defined, everyone knows what’s cool and what’s not, and you can always count on the bell ringing at exactly the same time every day. This is not the case in the real world, or more specifically, in college. There are a lot of things that happen in high school that don’t happen in college.
For example, no one calls your parents if you don’t show up to class (which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how responsible you are). You can wear spaghetti strap tank tops and leggings without having to worry about getting an unfair punishment because, somehow, after they graduate boys are able to *think clearly* around shoulders and Spandex (magic!). And this is a big one: you don’t have to raise your hand and ask for permission to go to the bathroom – don’t do it in college, because everyone will snicker. Promise.
College is not the real world, either. But it is a little bit closer. You’re held accountable for a lot more of your actions, and your responsibilities grow. There are things that you’d never dream of doing in high school – sitting in the cafeteria alone at lunch! meeting with a teacher after class! – that are suddenly normal, even expected, in college. Want to get a heads up for what the next four years will be like? Here are 16 things you never do in high school that you have to do in college.
1. Actually reading the assigned reading.
When teachers assign reading in high school, everyone blows it off and almost no one actually does it – and it doesn’t really matter. When professors assign reading, which they always will, you’ll find out quickly that if you don’t do it, you’re going to have a big, big problem. Do the reading. Seriously, that is the best college advice I can give you: do the reading.
2. Act super friendly with teachers.
Seems weird, right? Not in college. College professors have office hours, and you’re strongly encouraged to attend them to clarify information, ask for help, and even get to know them better so you understand their teaching style. Professors are also often friendly and more casual with college students than teachers are with high school students, meaning it’s easier to be act like “friends.”
3. Make friends outside of your clique.
College isn’t the set of Mean Girls and the cafeteria isn’t divided into cliques. Of course, people still have their friend groups, but they also have class friends, and dorm room friends, and study hall friends, and intramural sports friends, and that friend they always see at the rec center. In college, you’re encouraged to expand your social circle, unlike high school.
4. Eat lunch by yourself.
There aren’t scheduled shifts for lunch period any more, and there are a lot more options than the school cafeteria’s questionable meatloaf. Your class schedule won’t be the same as your friends’ every day, and you might actually value the 30 minutes you have to eat your sandwich in peace.
4. Share a bedroom.
Most freshmen live in dorm rooms with a roommate (or two or three). This room functions as a bedroom, a living room, and a study hall. Sharing one room with another person may sound awful, but living in a dorm can be one of the best college experiences you’ll have. You meet so many people, you learn how to handle all kinds of conflict, and there’s nothing quite like bonding over 2 a.m. bowls of Ramen. Living in a dorm room is even worth the awkwardness of #5…
5. Use public showers.
Sure, you may have showered in the locker room before. But if you live in a dorm, communal bathrooms are your daily reality. There’s not much privacy—though it’s doubtful anyone will pull back your curtain and make you sing for them à la Pitch Perfect—and for your own health, you have to wear flip flops when you shower. This also leads to #6…
6. Walk around half naked in front of others.
Walking down the hallway in a towel? No biggie. Carry your shower caddy with confidence. After the first week of school, no one will bat an eye.
7. Go to class in sweatpants.
Being underdressed seems to be a theme in college. While going to class in a towel would be frowned upon, dressing for comfort is a college student’s style of choice. High schoolers might laugh at you for showing up in leggings, sweatpants, or pajamas, but almost everyone in your class in college will be wearing the same thing.
8. Do your own chores.
No one in college is responsible for helping you with doing laundry, cleaning your room, washing dishes, or doing homework. Remember to separate your darks from your lights.
9. Walk or talk the bus everywhere.
Your parents aren’t available to give you a ride, and many people (especially freshmen) don’t have cars on campus. Get out your walking shoes and buy a bus pass.
10. Make your own curfew.
This sounds like the best thing ever, right? It can be—but remember that you also have to set your own alarm in the morning, and your homework won’t go to your 8 a.m. by itself.
11. Go to your parents for advice.
In high school, you’re likely convinced that your parents don’t understand you, have no idea what you’re going through, and can’t help you with anything. In college, you’ll realize you need their support, and not just to cover tuition, your meal plan, and those concert tickets you want. Your parents may not have all the answers, but give them a call. They have some of them.
12. Step outside of your comfort zone.
You’re (probably) not going to school with the same people you’ve known all your life and live down the street from any more. You (probably) can’t call your parents to come pick you up in the middle of the day if you don’t feel well. You’re (probably) living on your own for the first time. You can do it.
13. Think about what you want to do for the rest of your life.
In high school, you hear these questions: How are you preparing for college? Where do you want to go to college? What are you going to major in? In college the questions are more like this: how are you preparing for the rest of your life? Where do you want to move after graduation? What is your career path? It’s about to get real.
14. Go out on a school night.
In college, Thursday nights are usually the biggest night to go out – yeah, the weekends are busy too, but Thursday is a thing. Meanwhile, parties almost never happen on school nights in high school. It’s pretty great.
15. Be in a class where you know no one.
Even if you go to a big high school, you’ll never be in a class where you don’t know anyone – or at least know who they are. But in college, it happens all the time (unless you’re in a very small school). As you get further into your major classes, you’ll start to know more people, but in the beginning, you’ll be in classes feeling totally alone.
16. Have Fridays (or random days) off.
One of the best things about college is that, if you play your cards right, you don’t have to go to class five days a week. Most students try to plan their schedule so that they don’t have Friday classes, but sometimes it will be a random day (like Tuesday) or even two days.
Which of these differences do you disagree with? What did we forget to include? Let us know in the comments.