Is college really harder than high school?

December 3, 2015

by Carly Gilmore, current student

One of the biggest questions from incoming freshman is how does college compare with high school? Will the classes be impossibly hard? Will studying consume free time? Is it possible to be involved in extracurricular activities and still maintain a high GPA? While many college students agree that college is more challenging than high school, they also agree that it is a completely different experience than high school.

It is an experimental and adventurous time of which about 50 percent of a student’s education comes from the classroom and the rest comes from newly acquired independence, extracurricular involvements, and social life. In addition to the hectic schedule, college students are also trying to discover and reaffirm what career they want to pursue and who they want to become as an individual. In other words, college life involves an ample amount of activity and stress.

“I think that college is harder than high school, because there is more going on. You are on your own now and need to balance your time better. Classes are harder, and we are also involved in more activities besides classes—sports, work, relationships, clubs. While high school was hard and busy, college has the added pressure of needing to figure out life.” —Janessa Dyk, global business major

In order to find one’s interests, people need to gain experience in different things. With various clubs, classes and internships to choose from, students are in an environment ideal for discovering their interests. College presents many unique opportunities that are difficult to turn down, so students can easily—and tend to-—overcommit. With everything they need to balance, students soon discover time is an extremely precious commodity in life. Therefore, as students run from one activity to another, it is crucial to prioritize and organize activities in order to survive these four(ish) years.

“I make my busy schedule work by relying on my planner. In order to keep my schedule balanced, I sometimes write down details about when I will do what. Even things as simple as when to eat lunch.” —Brittany McCarty, graphic design major

As students battle with time management, it is important that they don’t forget to add in time for studying. College classes are more intense and dive deeper into the class content than high school courses. Classes are challenging, but not impossibly challenging. Each year the classes ease into harder material, so class becomes more difficult but at a manageable pace. If students choose to invest their time in studying and completing assignments, grades should not be a problem. The learning environment also makes college classes more manageable and engaging.

“While the class content in college is more challenging, there is the opportunity to take classes directly applicable to my major from professors as passionate about the class as I am; they make tough classes more enjoyable which in turn makes college feel easier than high school.” —Brent Conrad, pre-med major

If you love what you are learning, it seems more like an opportunity than an task. In college, students are able to take classes in a specific area that interests them. Being surrounded by professors and classmates that share the same passion creates a motivating and inspiring learning environment. Students should utilize this learning opportunity; however, they should not let it consume them. Although the point of college is to earn an education, it is important not to become too absorbed in classes that the importance of rest and relationships is overlooked.

“What helps me survive is staying in touch with friends and building my close relationships. It’s easy to let some relationships go when time becomes a rare commodity, but without those friends, the time I would have off would be miserable. My relationships are what keep me loose and relaxed. They help me have fun when I feel too busy to be having fun.” —Lauren Diaz, marketing major

Being away from home is hard, because the primary support system is not physically there. So in college, it is important to branch out and find friends that can share life. As in all stages of life, relationships are key. Through relationships, people are able to share in experiences and make everything feel easier.

In the end, students agree that their college experience has been harder than their high school experience, because the challenge of college comes from balancing change and decisions, work and fun, rest and relationships—not just getting homework done. However, learning this balance and reaping the rewards is also the reason college is worth pursuing.