By Graham "GSM" Matthews
As of May 19, 2014, my freshman year of college has officially come to an end. Shortly following my freshman year of high school, I dreamed of the day I could eventually off to college. At the time, I didn't know what college I wanted to attend or even what I wanted to major in, but I was still determined to attend college just so my high days would be over. Finally, after four long (treacherous) years, my high school tenure had come to an end and it was off to college. I had been accepted into Endicott College (my No. 1 school) the previous Christmas Eve to major in journalism. As excited as I was for the summer season and as great as it ended up being, I just wanted college to start. Granted, I was nervous for going off to college, but it wasn't just that I wanted high school to be over. That was only the half of it. I didn't want to be home anymore. I was in desperate need of a fresh change in scenery. I was getting sick of home, as opposed to homesick.
When you get your hopes high for something, you usually end up disappointed. I set my hopes high for college and how it was going to be a big improvement over high school, and surprisingly enough, those expectations were met and exceeded. That said, not everything about the college experience is perfect (nothing is), but as a whole, I certainly felt that my theory from Day 1 was proven: college is infinitely better than high school.
One of the biggest and most obvious changes between being in high school and being in college is the amount of freedom that you get. In college, your parents aren't there to guide you every step of the way. Basically, you're left to fend for yourself. Being as independent as I am, I was fine with this factor with college and enjoyed it. Others enjoy it as well, but depending on how dependent you were on other people in high school, you could lose your way fairly quickly. I knew a number of people in college that couldn't handle the pressure of being on their own and eventually succumbed to the stress. Your parents aren't there to clean up every one of your messes. So, even though you may be looking forward to the freedom of college, keep in mind the responsibilities that come along with it.
The next big difference between high school and college is the people that surround you and the people you surround yourself with. High school is known for its cliques, but in college for the most part, there's none of that. If you hated cliques in high school (like me), then you're in luck. If you were a part of a clique in high school, then you're on your own. Depending on where you went/go to college, a lot of your high school classmates, friends and enemies alike, don't go to the same university as you. Some people will see that as a good thing, others as a bad thing. Personally, I loved the fact that no one from my high school went to the same college as me because it provided me with the opportunity of a fresh start. That's in addition to the fact that I didn't like a majority of the people I went to school with, so not seeing any of them ever again was kind of a plus for me. Of course, that differs on a person to person basis.
If your high school friends don't attend the same college as you, then you're forced to make new friends. In no way, shape or form is this a bad thing. If anything, it's a great thing because it gives you the chance to go out, meet new people and explore the interests of others. Staying friends with someone forever is always a good thing, but always make an attempt to branch out, form new friendships and allow others in your social circle as well. Just don't make friends merely out of desperation. If you find a "friend" out of desperation, then chances are you aren't really friends and only have a "friendship" because they're pressuring you into doing stuff you don't want to do, or you just have smoking/drinking/doing drugs in common.
On that same token, with freedom comes choices to make on your own. Your parents aren't there at college with you to supervise your every move, so odds are you could get involved in some stuff you weren't exposed to in high school (alcohol, drugs and smoking). Then again, if you weren't exposed to any of that stuff in high school, then you must live in a very clean town. You more than likely already know what you're getting yourself into when you get to college and see people doing all that kind of stuff, but the key is moderation. At the college I attend, I saw people drinking and doing drugs all the time, and not only on the weekends. Technically, there's nothing wrong with doing any of that stuff. It's your body and your choice, you'll just have to live with the consequences. But doing all the time will sooner or later have an effect on your schoolwork. Don't let it get to that point. Don't learn the hard way by getting bad grades and having your parents lose your trust because they don't have faith in you living on your own.
Finally, the academics are incredibly different at the college level. At one point (or many points) doing during high school career did you probably say, "Whenever am I ever going to use this?" I said the same exact thing. After going through a year of college, I can pretty much confirm that most of what you learn in high school, you will never, ever apply to a real life situation. Perhaps I'm speaking too soon because I'm only a year into my college career and have yet to truly experience the "real world", but I personally don't remember half of what I learned in high school.
In college, because you're majoring in something, many of your classes have to do with what you're interested in. For my college, there's "core" classes you have to take, meaning you have to take one math class, one science class, etc. However, after you fill that core requirement, you never have to take another math/science/whatever-your-least-favorite-subject-is class again in your life. A majority of the classes you take will be related to your major. Thus, not only will you have more fun in that class, you'll also do better and get a higher grade as a result. It's a win-win situation.
All in all, I can pretty much confirm that college is infinitely better than high school in almost every aspect. You'll be nervous to go at first (if you're not, more power to you), but in due time if not immediately, you'll love college. For someone who hated high school as much as I did, college was everything I hope it'd be and more. Even those who somewhat enjoyed high school will enjoy college. Everyone's different, but upon your arrival on campus, you'll adjust to the college lifestyle in no time. Just take my word for it.