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Is College Harder than High School?

I’ve had a lot of high school students ask me the same question: is college harder than high school?

There honestly is no overarching answer that will apply to all students. I always answer, “It depends, ” because it really does. If in high school you didn’t have that much freedom or choice, you will find college is the complete opposite. And so, it really depends on you whether college will be harder than high school.

#1. You have almost full control of what classes you want to take (most colleges have general education required courses), so it’s up to you which ones you want to take. You can deliberately choose classes that you know you can pass with flying colors or you can choose courses you want to challenge you, or you might just not know how the class will go. You can choose what you want to do with your time, how many activities you want to be involved in, how you want your day to go. You control your college experience.

#2. College is meant to be the stepping stone to adulthood and full independence. This means, with your freedom, control, and independence comes responsibilities such as taking care of yourself, doing your laundry, budgeting your finances, etc. For some students, academics and extracurriculars were the main focus in their high school years, and it wasn’t necessary to think about other things like laundry. In some respects, college can be harder not because of academics but because college is an all-encompassing experience that isn’t just about studying.

#3. Sometimes transitioning to a completely new environment or culture, specifically if you are an international student far away from home, can be both challenging and exciting. High school may have been more familiar because you were accustomed to your lifestyle there, and college might be a drastic change from that. I personally know of a few friends who have to constantly remind themselves that we drive on the right side of the road in the US!

#4. It varies with individuals on how they each respond to a new situation. There are so many factors that play into how students feel about their college experiences compared to their high school experiences, including environment and personality.

Instead of evaluating whether college is more difficult than high school, I would just say that it’s different!

Author: Arden Hu

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