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In a lot of ways college is the same as high school – the same four-year progression, the same promises that your efforts will pay off, and the same Monday-to-Friday grind ending in the bliss of the weekend.

But in a lot of ways, of course, you become a completely different person when you go to college. As a high schooler now, you can look forward to kissing some of your old habits and haunts goodbye and moving on to better things.

It can be fun to take a look at the things you’re doing now, in high school, and realize that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and on the other side a completely new experience is waiting.

Shared a bedroom with a total stranger.

As weird as it may seem, this is a great symbol of how college is a little less stressful than high school. Yes, you have to grow up and do “real-world” things, and for most intents and purposes fend for yourself, but you have a built-in support system centered around the people you live with.

The admission process can often make you feel like you’re going through everything alone, but don’t worry – there’s inherently a lot more solidarity in college.

Texted my mom. A lot.

In high school my mom was always – annoyingly – around. But when I ended up going to a college 700 miles away, a strange thing happened: I started contacting her more. I wasn’t super homesick, I just got the urge to text her about random stuff.

My mom heard more lame jokes from me my first semester at college than she’d probably heard her whole life. The distance can really take the strain of being an angsty teen off the mother-child relationship.

So if she’s pressuring you about applications and last-minute extracurriculars now, just think how helpful that support will eventually be from a distance.

Joined a club without thinking about how it would look on college apps.

This time, I was thinking about how it would look on grad school apps!

Just kidding. I mean, yeah, that reality was in my mind sometimes when I joined, but college is a time to get out and really explore what you’re passionate about. The newness of the experience can really help you forget that it, too, is a stepping-stone toward a larger future, just like high school.

What’s nice about college is that the clubs aren’t as closely affiliated with the school as they are in high school. Many of the clubs I joined were entirely student-run. I think we had a faculty advisor but only about two of us have ever spoken with him, or her, I’m not really sure.

Applying to college can be a way to find direction in your life; it teaches you to think about what you want and how to go about getting it. But there’s a good deal of pressure that can sometimes prevent you from effectively doing this.

A lot of that pressure comes from the fact that thousands of students across the country are going through an incredibly similar process. When you get to college, though, you really can take a deep breath and forge a path that’s entirely unique. You might join a club that only three other people join, compared to a couple hundred or a couple thousand people entering the same school as you.

Eventually, you become your own little “club,” a unique conglomeration of interests. You’re equestrian-engineering-baking-modeling club. Or you’re photography-chess-programming-painting club.

Forging your own path can seem daunting when you’re forced to run the same application gauntlet as everyone else. In college, it gets a lot easier.

Bought an inordinate amount of school gear.

Okay, yes, I bought spirit gear for my high school, too, but never to this level. There’s a different level of excitement and pride you have toward your college that just can’t match what you had for your high school.

It’s true, some of the stuff was unnecessarily themed (did I really need a college-specific jewelry box?) and a lot of the stuff I would never use past the first few months of freshman year (sorry, foam finger I took to like two football games, you just aren’t practical). But the main takeaway is that at one point in my college career, I wanted to buy that stuff.

If that doesn’t tell you that college is worthwhile, and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t know what will.

Believed there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

This isn’t to say that high school or college are horrible and I just can’t wait to escape them. On the contrary, I’ve loved both my high school and my college experience. But the fact is that they’re both transitionary periods.

After high school, though, in spite of feeling like I’d been set free, I knew that I had to do another four years just a short three months later. But with college, I know that I’m nearing the end of my academic career, barring grad school. This is it.

And as the days and months pass, I notice that college is more than just another four years – it’s the prologue to the rest of my life. It’s like if high school and full-blown adulthood had a baby. I honestly feel like I’m being weaned off the high school experience.

So if you’re feeling like everything that happens in high school is going to have an irrevocable impact on the rest of your life, or like the stresses of being a college applicant will never end, don’t worry.

There are a lot of things I did in college that I wouldn’t have done in high school, but there is one thing I used to do in high school that I just don’t do as much in college: panic. And the most important thing you can start to do in college (though in hindsight I would recommend starting in high school if you can): Relax.

Sarah Chandler

Sarah Chandler is a junior at Cornell University studying Performing and Media Arts and Psychology.As much as she loves writing for CollegeVine, she'd rather be astral projecting or watching The Office. She has too much fun writing bios like these for her own good.