Throughout high school, my teachers would always tell us they were "preparing us for college." And whenever my parents refused to help me with a problem--admittedly, one I was perfectly capable of fixing myself--they would say they were "making me independant for college life." But once I actually stepped foot on campus, it was pretty obvious: Nothing that I learned in my high school days could be applied to my new life.
College is, without a doubt, a whole new ballgame.
First off, in college there is no such thing as "popularity" like there was in high school. There isn't a table during lunch where all the popular kids sit. There aren't dances that you need a date for or games where all the "cool" students sit in one section. No one cares about how you dress, because everyone looks like a slob all the time. Friends aren't made by wearing the latest trends or by sitting at a certain table at lunch. In college, you make friends by being kind and considerate. Seriously. College is stressful enough on its own; and no one has the time or the desire to hang out with negative or snobby individuals. So don't be one. In college, the people with a lot of friends are the ones who are genuinely nice to others.
In high school, I would always try to skip class. By the end of each year, my absences would be maxed out and I literally couldn't miss another day. But in college, attendance usually doesn't matter. Many professors don't even take attendance. But the thing is, in college, every class actually does matter. Admit it, there would be days you went to class in high school and probably walked out of there not having learned anything. That does not happen in college--There may be a whole section on a test of information that was covered in just one day. And conveniently, that will probably be the day you decided to take a nap instead of attend class. Before I left for my second semester of college, my dad calculated how much each class was worth: If I skipped class to take a nap, that nap would cost me $70 dollars. I haven't skipped a class since.
Another college trend: Effort is attractive. Studying hard and using your resources is not looked down upon in college, whereas in high school, my peers would always pressure me into doing something fun, rather than studying for a test. But in college, every student is paying thousands of dollars just to learn, so most take it more seriously. In college, effort is noticed, appreciated, and highly respected among college students.
Something I always disliked about high school was that I felt like I had to look, act, or talk a certain way to be accepted. And when I look back on it, that way of thinking kept me from doing a lot of things that I would have really enjoyed or excelled at.
But being a college student gives you the freedom to break out, try new things, and embrace a different side of yourself. You may have been the cheerleader in high school, but you can be a sports writer in college. Or you may have been a band kid in your hometown, but in college you can embrace Greek life. There are no labels when you take your first steps on campus. You can create your own label--and your own college identity.