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In high school my teachers constantly tried to imply that college was more difficult than high school. When considering high school vs college, those are still the first thoughts that run through my mind. My high school teachers used to say things like, “it’s going to be a lot harder when you go to college,” and “we’re preparing you for college” (implying college needs preparation.)

Despite the teacher’s constant claims of a more challenging course load in college, this seemed to be one of the least notable factors when comparing high school vs college.

Academic Differences

When considering high school vs college academically, most students don’t have too much to worry about. On average, college is not significantly more difficult than high school. Academically speaking, you shouldn’t immediately expect to be pushed in any seriously challenging way. After taking the basic courses in college you will likely see courses that are notably more difficult than high school but you’re probably going to have significantly more time to invest in those courses than you did in high school.

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Naturally, this doesn’t apply to every student. If you’re going from a crappy high school to a particularly challenging college then you might run into problems academically. That being said, even some of the most difficult colleges are usually only as difficult as the student chooses to make them.

If you learn to use the 15 Minute Study Strategy taught on this blog then you might even have an easier time than high school. If you want to learn more then check out 101 School Hacks For Better Grades & A Better Life.

In virtually every case when considering high school vs college, students shouldn’t be worrying about the academic differences. Most of those differences are hardly notable.

Lifestyle Differences

This is where the vast majority of students struggle when thinking about high school vs college. In high school, most students live with their parents. They don’t work a regular job. They have virtually no personal responsibilities. When they go to college this typically changes.

College students have many problems other than academics to worry about. If the student lives off campus then they suddenly have to worry about paying their bills. Those students may need to work a regular job. They have to do all this while still worrying about going to school and getting passing grades. When a college student lives on campus they still have concerns like cooking their own meals, doing their own laundry, and not staying out all night. This is the area that most college students screw up.

Most young college students have no experience taking care of themselves. That leads to thousands of stupid little problems. Many of these stupid little problems add up into serious concerns over time. Those serious concerns often turn into academic problems.

For example, let’s say a student normally does their laundry on a Sunday. If that student is feeling lazy and puts it off until Monday, that may not immediately look all that devastating but it’s a small problem that can stack up. On Monday, the student may get assigned a ton of homework. Suddenly the student is forced to choose between laundry and school work. The school work may have a few days to complete but if the student puts off the homework and does the laundry, the student has to hope they have another day free in the future to do it. In the average course load, you can’t expect too many completely free nights. This game cuts into homework and study time dramatically. Eventually the student will fall behind in class or life, or the student will rush to complete the work at a subpar quality. (Yes… they could do their schoolwork while waiting for their laundry. There are often simple solution that tend to get ignored.)

Little lifestyle choices make a huge difference. One of the most common lifestyle problems is staying up. In college, when there is no one standing over your shoulder telling you to go to bed, it can be easy to stay up late. (I can remember video games being a major catalyst for my late nights. “One more time… then I’ll go to bed.”)

For a student with early classes this can be a serious problem. It leads to subpar concentration in class. It leads to missed classes. It leads to crappy scores. It even leads to the student starting every day bad which makes every class more difficult.

Notice how these aren’t academic problems at all but they translate into academic problems. If a student is failing an early class, they may never even notice the reason they’re failing is because they stay up late. They may just assume it’s a tough class. (I mean… there test scores reflect this.)

Looking at high school vs college, this is the area that most students end up struggling.

College As An Investment

High School VS College
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A large percentage of students leaving high school and going to college blow the opportunity because they’re virtually intending to blow it from the start. College has a good reputation for students looking to have a good time. That being said, I’d argue this reputation is not well deserved.

If you would like to enjoy college parties then you could enjoy college parties while not going to college. All you have to do is live close to campus and make a few friends at the college. The important difference is that they’ll be paying 30-40k a year to enjoy their parties.

Odds are, if you’re smart with your money, you can live and party on a third of that. (Of course that depends on where you’re located.) And heck, college parties may be fun but there are plenty of parties off campus too. If you’re looking to have fun then college is one of the least efficient ways to do it. Hell… you’ll even have classes getting in the way.

Is college an investment or is it a luxury? If you’re going to college as an investment then it shouldn’t have to be fun. Sure, it can be fun but you should have no expectation that it will end up that way. There are going to be nights when you have the choice to stay out late or go to bed early for class. In that situation you need to remember that college is an investment. While your friends may love throwing their money away, you’ll get the pleasure of more money (and less suffering from crap grades) in the future.

I understand you’re human. Heck, there are even ways you can balance out having fun and going to college. It’s a tricky balance though. That’s the problem. If you lean too much towards trying to have fun you can cause serious problems for your college as an investment. All I recommend is you don’t ever risk leaning too far towards fun while pretending it’s still an investment.

Someday you might think, screw my tuition, this is a luxury. Then, have fun. You’ll be consciously paying the price. That’s fine. That being said, most students just go on pretending that they’re investing in their future while they develop a mild drinking problem, play way too many games, sleep with as many partners as they can, and make all kinds of irresponsible decisions.

Don’t lie to yourself. Know why you’re doing what you’re doing. That is the most important part. This honesty is what can help you get back on track when you realize you’ve gone too far. If college is an investment then treat it like an investment.

Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to follow and check out the archives. Also, check out the ebooks in the sidebar for more info.

High School vs College: What Changes & What Doesn’t

A B&C Students Guide To Mercilessly Crushing A Students At Their Own Game (While Laughing Your Way Towards The Ivy-League)

Are you smart but getting meh grades?

The smartest students are often the ones the school system leaves behind. It’s easy to motivate a half-wit (or even almost-wit – like a horse with a carrot dangled in it’s face to get it running. Giddy-up horsey!

You would never fall for that, right? Then this is for you.

It’s easy to procrastinate when you’re getting a raw deal. That’s the smart thing to do.

Academics is a game – and its prizes are good. Really good! There is more to the story than that though. What do you have to do to get that prize? And that matters even more than the prize. Study 18 hours a day for straight-A’s and a high-paying job someday in the distant future? Ughhh… Not me. That’s for sure.

I scored near the top of my college Engineering class while studying less than 15 minutes a morning. And seriously, I don’t sound like a super genius, do I?

Hint: I had barely scraped a 1.0 GPA in high school and I wasn’t skipping and having fun with friends either – I was… dare I say… trying my best.

Big Tip: trying doesn’t matter unless you’re experimenting or already using an effective strategy. Trying without an effective strategies is a waste that can plop your grades in the stinker. First step – STOP TRYING with ineffective strategies.

You got that?

Look… I’m a bit crazy. I get it. I’ve read hundreds of books on grades, learning, and memory. I spent sleepless nights studying obscure academic journals. I swear, I even read the book “How To Read A Book” and didn’t have to drink alcohol to do it!


You wanna’ know why?

Don’t tell anyone but… I care. I was emotionally crippled by the school system. I had heartless, lazy, and downright mean teachers (and a couple good ones that couldn’t help.) It took years for me to untangle their mess…

And I went to college and beat them at their own wretched game. Top scores. Easy studying. Time to make friends and impress the ladies. (You know… the important stuff!)

But I know… I wasn’t alone and I know there are others facing similar and worse challenges than I did. And I may be out of the warzone now but I can’t in good conscience leave you behind without my arsenal.

That’s why a decade ago I founded Smart Student Secrets and got link backs from LifeHack, HuffPo, and good college professors with names I can’t pronounce from all over the world that see these strategies crushing every day. But forget about them… the emails I get from grateful students… that’s the stuff a good life is made of.

My newest book is, in my opinion, the best book ever written for students that want to absolutely crush the academic game.

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It takes the latest in academic research on memory and puts into your hands, the exact memorization strategies that a Purdue Professor proved can let someone memorize 2.35 things for every one they’re memorizing now.

And this isn’t about “working harder” – and it’s not about “working smarter” either. (I cringe every time I read that phrase.)

It’s about working only when it matters most and creating the habit of motivated and effective learning.

I guarantee this… You can skyrocket your grades with my book while studying less than you ever had to study before. If I’m wrong, send me an email and I’ll refund you – no questions asked.

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4 thoughts on “High School vs College: What Changes & What Doesn’t

  • March 1, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    I really like what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and coverage! Keep up the good works guys I’ve you guys to my blogroll.

  • December 9, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Interesting post with a lot of good posts made. I would have to say I agree with skme but not all. But I am from South Africa and went to university here so our experiences are probably quite different from those of American college students.

    Firstly, on the point that “college” is not significantly more academically challenging than highschool – that is certainly not the case here. Of course I’m generalising, because it depends largely on the degree you do and the courses you take, some of which are MUCH harder than others. But overall I can be confident in saying that for us university tests you on levels you were never expected to reach in highschool. The sheer amount of work that has to be constantly completed and submitted, the complexity and again sheer volume of that which you have to study to pass exams. It is completely incomparable to what we do in highschool. Of course, your attitude and the work you put it is going to effect how much you do or don’t struggle, but it is definitely more challenging. (We don’t have things like college courses you can do in highschool or any real prep in highschool for college so this may also contribute to the difference being so significant.)

    On the point of lifestyle changes and partying – those are of course huge changes from highschool. But it’s completely up to the person how they choose to handle those things. Managing your time is a part of life, and you better master it as quickly as possible cause it’s never going to get easier.

  • December 6, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Where I live, there’s no collage after high school, but you can go to the university (which I guess is pretty much the same thing) for 3-5 years, depending on the course. Young people have the same issues obviously. What I can say from my personal experience is the “we’re preparing you!” words from teachers are bullshit. Going to university is A LOT less stressful than studying at high school. First, you have all your exams at the end of semester. Tests in the middle of it almost don’t happen. Sure, you might have to give a presentation or work in groups, but you don’t have to constantly worry about failing because of a surprise test. The second thing is that you will study what you want to, and not everything. For example, maths was a huge stress for me when I was at high school, but at the university I’ve only been studying liberal arts and the like.

  • November 28, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks for the great post. I agree with your opinion, in college you have freedom but not easy to do by yourself. Quality post. Like Always.


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