College is really similar to high school. People are more mature and everyone has more money/mobility, but unlike life outside of college, hundreds of people are forced into different situations, where as after college, people usually do things that they want to do (for the most part). Because of the forcing function, I feel that people change much more during college than after. After college, things slow down (for most, I would argue) and you settle into a routine that you have total control over. In college, you have other forces steering the wheel with you, and because of that you can be less careful in college (as the trouble you can get into has a bit less consequences). Once you graduate college and go into the work force, there are more direct consequences for each action. If you miss a deadline for a project, it’s a bigger deal. If you anger your project partners, it’s a bigger deal. College has more safe guards whereas at work, you can get fired at almost anytime (I work in a at-will-employment state, so for me, I can get fired at anytime for any reason).
Having said that, I was a bad student in college. I spent not enough time studying and too much time reading books and playing video games. Part of it was due to an episode of depression, but no matter, I could’ve done better. Once I got to the workforce, well, I did much better. It was helpful that I had a great, understanding manager, but I worked much harder and I haven’t yet received anything but “good grades” in my career (once a year, there’s a performance review, where your manager gives you a grade and tells you how you’re doing).
The way I see it college can help people adjust to the workforce. If you look at schooling as a step function, you have the most amount of safe guards and the least approximation to your future job in elementary school. You get more safe guards and you get a little closer to your career in middle school. A little more in high school. Then a bit more in college, then you reach your workforce destination. There are people that jump from high school to the work force, but the jobs you can usually get with just a high school degree expect a certain level of maturity less than the jobs you get with a college degree.
Anyways, I think I’m rambling. I hope this was helpful!