The Biggest Changes from High School to College

A student’s life will drastically change once they set foot on campus. In this blog, we highlight some of the major areas that change when a student leaves high school and the types of challenges that they can present for students.


It’s almost hard to put into words how much this will change. All of a sudden, college students are in charge of their daily finances, their laundry, feeding themselves, making their schedule, and truly being in charge of their lives. For some students, this is a massive shift from high school. Navigating life with little to no parent involvement is so drastic that it can be paralyzing and tough for some students. Even small things like scheduling meetings and appointments will now fall entirely on a student’s shoulders. For some students, this new independence can be a source of stress. Others will love it and thrive.

More Free Time and New Academic Tasks

The differences between a high school and college schedule are fairly obvious. Students are in class way less frequently in college. This means that they will have both more free time and more out of class work. When presented with more unstructured free time that needs to be managed, human beings typically struggle. Add this increase in free time with some new academic skills students haven’t used as much (think: note taking, textbook reading, studying, etc.) and all of a sudden, school has becomes much more difficult. Students must learn to create structure and initiate their work on a daily basis so they can navigate the new academic demands of college.

School/Life Balance

It’s no secret that students will have more social opportunities in college than high school. They may get invited to a party on a Monday night. Or a Tuesday night. Or a…well you get the point. With their newfound independence, students will need to work to strike a balance between school and external obligations: social life, clubs, activities, sports, etc. Some students can figure this out quickly, but for others, it may be a challenge to find the right balance and can impede on their academic success.

Long Term Work

The number of papers, projects, and tests will increase in college. Students need to get used to managing these long term assignments. The amount of time that it takes to successfully (A’s and B’s) complete these tasks, is a major adjustment. Students must start their preparation and work days and weeks in advance. It puts a premium on time management and being able to get started earlier.

For some students, these changes are exciting and part of the evolution of their academics. For other students, these changes can create challenges, stress, and chaos that is difficult to cope with. In order for students to be successful in college, they will have to learn and utilize the skills that help them manage themselves through these changes.

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