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How different is high school from college What are some lifestyle and workload differences? Do you have any financial or time-management tips?

I am a high school senior who is an undecided major. Since I will be moving out, I am worried about managing my life myself. I'm currently in 4 AP classes, so I have a large workload for a highschooler and I'm curious how much college will compare to that.

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Gabriel’s Answer

Hello, Morrigan! First...take a breath. I ask you to take what I say with a grain of salt...there is no "right answer".
Okay...let's unpack this...you are undecided in the major category. I say this from experience...what you eventually major in does not dictate what your future career is. If you're looking at a very specific field...medical...legal...plumbing...that's a different scenario. I went to college for three semesters then took "a semester off" because I didn't know what I wanted to to. It wasn't until after I left college that a counselor told me, "you don't go to school to learn a skill (unless something like the aforementioned)...you go to school to learn how to learn".

Take a look at your support system. I did not have a huge one when I started college but a lot of that was me thinking I could handle everything on my own. I would say I even pushed my support system away a bit. If you have family that cares about you and wants you to succeed...please appreciate that. If you have moments of doubt...pick up the phone.

Most importantly...if you start...finish. Your life will be SO much better if you do. My daughter gets frustrated doing long division...and you have to put in the work. Once you leave college that structure of encouraged-knowledge is gone.

As for college life...stay focused. College is sometimes a time when people "find themselves". Keep your graduation as a goal. Once you get that degree, no one can take that from you. There's nothing wrong with being smart...but don't over-reach if it is going to hurt your goal. I went to a state school...great school...but back in the day, they saw I had a decent ACT score and sort of let me pick my path. Double-major, triple minor was too much for me. You're in AP classes so you're bright. Just don't push yourself too hard. Please...I don't want anyone to make the same mistake I did.

As for majors, many schools leave you as undecided for the first two years. If you don't have a specific degree-goal, please consider an in-state or community college to get you started. I've been in higher-ed/financial aid twenty years now. Financially speaking, college is an investment. But like any other...try to invest wisely.

And don't forget your support system...seriously. You'll be brilliant. The fact that you're asking questions NOW gives you an advantage.

You got this...
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david’s Answer

Lots of good and detailed answers already, so I'll just be brief: The biggest change you will encounter is discovering that for the past twelve years, you have been living in a bubble, a shield around you that took full responsibility for deciding and managing your educational growth. Suddenly, when you leave high school, you find that you, and you alone, are fully responsible for everything. That happens overnight, but it takes many weeks to assimilate. Once you have a grasp of that, life gets easier because every issue you face from then on is automatically something for you to address. On that, you will do well. That you have asked shows your awareness of this significant shift you are approaching. All the best to you.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hey there, Morrigan!

Let's dive into the exciting world of education, focusing on the differences between high school and college. This transition can be a thrilling yet challenging time, as it involves stepping into a new environment and taking on greater responsibilities. In this friendly guide, we'll delve into how high school and college differ in lifestyle and workload. We'll also share some handy financial and time-management tips to help you smoothly navigate this transition.

1. Lifestyle Changes:
High school often comes with a structured daily routine. Students have set class hours, engage in after-school activities, and usually live with their families. College, however, is a whole new ball game. It offers more freedom and independence, allowing students to pick classes at various times and create their own schedules. Plus, many college students live in dorms or apartments away from home, which means they'll need to handle household chores, cooking, and budgeting.

2. Workload Shifts:
College tends to be more demanding than high school. The courses are designed to be tougher and require more critical thinking and independent study skills. Unlike high school, where teachers keep a close eye on your progress and remind you about assignments, college professors expect students to take charge of their own learning. This means actively participating in class discussions, completing readings before lectures, and setting aside ample time for studying outside of class.

Money-Saving Tips:
- Make a budget: Jot down your monthly expenses like rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, textbooks, and entertainment. Keep an eye on your spending to ensure you stay within your budget.
- Look for scholarships and grants: Do some research and apply for scholarships and grants that match your interests or field of study. These can help reduce your tuition costs.
- Think about part-time work: If it's doable, consider a part-time job on or off-campus to boost your income. But remember, it's crucial to strike a balance between work and academics to avoid burnout.

Time-Management Strategies:
- Use a planner or digital calendar: Keep track of important deadlines, assignments, and exams to manage your time effectively. Prioritize tasks and set specific time slots for studying, attending classes, and joining in extracurricular activities.
- Break tasks down: Instead of trying to conquer large assignments or study for hours on end, break them down into smaller, manageable tasks. This method helps ward off procrastination and allows for better focus and retention.
- Reach out for support and resources: Make the most of campus resources such as academic advisors, tutoring services, and study groups to deepen your understanding of course material and improve time management skills.

Remember, experiences and workload can differ based on the specific college or university, your chosen major, and your personal study habits. It's a good idea to research the institutions you're interested in and chat with current students or alumni to get a feel for their experiences.

Top 3 Trusted Reference Publications/Websites:
1. The College Board (www.collegeboard.org)
2. U.S. News & World Report - Education Section (www.usnews.com/education)
3. The Princeton Review (www.princetonreview.com)
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Kim’s Answer

Morrigan,

I just want to weigh-in on how you schedule your classes. I've seen previously recommendations for a M/W/F schedule, or, mostly mornings or mostly afternoons. You will need to find what works for you!

Unless there is a need to cram everything together for financial reasons (transportation issues, for example), I recommend spacing out the classes. What you definitely don't want to do is schedule classes for when your brain isn't alert, perhaps early morning classes.

I found it best not to take more than 2 classes back-to-back. Also, when scheduling "down-time" between classes, I schedule off for at least 2 class periods. This gives you time to grab something to eat, plus perhaps review notes or do readings, or prepare for tests! As long as you use this time productively, this works well! A sample schedule is below.

M/W/F
9-10: English
10-11: History
11-1: OFF
1-2: Math

T/Th
9-10:30: Art Appreciation
10:30- 12:OFF
12-1:30 Biology

Also take advantage of on-line professor reviews. And, at the beginning of the semester, when the professor is going over their expectations, be sure to ask about their testing style! You don't want to spend a lot of time reviewing the readings to find out that the test is almost totally from lecture material! Get acquainted with classmates so you can get notes if you miss class. Form study groups. Use campus resources such as Writing Lab. Do NOT fall behind!

Best of luck to you!
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Barry P.’s Answer

This is a great questions.

First, congrats on taking 4 AP classes at the same time. That is a pretty big workload.

My guess, apples to apples, a college class will be more demanding than your high school class. But, and this is important, you will have much more time to do your work. You might just take those 4 classes, where in high school, I'm assuming you probably have a few other classes that take up a significant amount of you time at school.

To put this in perspective, most high school kids spend about 30 hours a week at school, while in college you'll spend more like 15 hours per week inside a classroom. You'll have so much extra time to work on those 4 classes. The key is not to sleep or drink away that extra free time :)

So Net: Yes college classes will be harder, but you will have the extra free time to do well in those classes.
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Misty’s Answer

I want you to know that the way you feel is completely normal! Managing after high school is a big change, but one that you will transition into great by answering the questions you posed. A few things:
- Set a budget (How much can you spend, how much do you have to spend, how much do you need to spend)
- Try to get your classes close to each other for example (Classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays) which leaves time for you to study and do work on Tuesday and Thursdays without having to go to a class every single day
- Balance your class schedule with easy and hard classes (electives and courses for your major) you don't want to become overwhelmed with the course load
- College courses are harder (more rigorous) and teachers have more students so if you need help talk to your professor quickly
- All college courses should have a syllabus (Ready it because it will tell you how to be successful in the course, due dates, assignments etc..)
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Elizabeth (Betsy)’s Answer

Hello Morrigan,

Gabriel certainly offered some insightful perspectives. To build on that, I'd like to share that during my final years of high school, I was quite self-reliant, balancing part-time employment, social activities with friends, and my education. This experience proved beneficial in preparing me for the greater autonomy of college life, where you're entirely accountable for your actions and decisions, without the constant supervision of adults. Having already gained experience in managing my own time and schedule, I transitioned smoothly into this new environment, although I observed several of my peers grappling with effective time management.

That being said, the transition wasn't without its challenges. In high school, I was accustomed to a consistent daily routine of classes, but in college, classes were less frequent, often only once or twice a week, and the workload was significantly heavier. There were times when I neglected my homework, and catching up was a daunting task. This is a common scenario that often leads college students to pull "all nighters". Furthermore, the time allocated for each task was shorter, requiring quicker completion. My advice would be to carefully review your syllabus at the beginning of each semester and allocate specific time slots throughout the term to accomplish all your tasks, particularly the larger projects.

Think of it as adjusting to a new fitness regimen, which can initially be challenging. But once you find your rhythm, you'll excel. Wishing you all the best!
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Angela’s Answer

Hello Morgan,

You've already made significant strides by enrolling in AP classes, which are a great way to prepare for the rigorous academic demands of college. College will test your ability to manage your time effectively and to take charge of your own learning. You will need to keep yourself on track.

When it comes to finances, being thrifty is key. Make sure to explore all scholarship opportunities, no matter how big or small they may seem. Every little bit helps!

While making friends and enjoying the social aspects of college is important, remember that your main goal is to lay the foundation for your future. You wouldn't want to invest so much in your education only to let excessive socializing hinder your progress.

Given that you're already taking AP classes (just like my son), I'm confident that you understand the value of hard work. Those classes are demanding!
My grandmother once advised me, "Keep your horse blinders on." In other words, stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize.

Best of luck to you!
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Fernando’s Answer

The first major difference is the freedom you'll have with regards to scheduling and free time in between classes. Make sure that when signing up for courses your classes are either mostly during the morning or during the afternoon. This helps when it comes to giving yourself breathing room, as well as your lunch break. In terms of work load it all depends on your major. Classes tied to your major will be giving you about the same level of assignments you had in high-school, but with more layers. Again this will vary depending on your major, so if you're going into a scientific field expect a lot of research assignments or if you're going into a writing field expect literary studies along with in depth analysis for assignments.

When it comes to managing your money always prioritize having enough for food. When it comes to your hobbies just keep an eye on sales or make sure not to spend all your money on one thing.
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Angel’s Answer

College can be more demanding than high school. You have more independence in how well you keep up with your work load. Unlike high school, your professors tend not to help you keep track of due dates and tasks.
Time management is a crucial part of college success.
Do not take on more work than you can handle.
Remember to have fun and enjoy campus life. You need a good balance in order to enjoy the college experience.
If you require financial aid and have to take out loans, do not accept more than you need.
If you are able, get a job to help with expense.
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Roohi’s Answer

#1: Embrace Greater Independence
#2: Expect to be Treated with Maturity
#3: Enjoy a Broad Spectrum of Class Options
#4: Experience Diverse Class Formats and Sizes
#5: Prepare for a More Complex Schedule
#6: Anticipate a Fresh Group of Classmates
#7: Cultivate Enhanced Critical Thinking Skills
#8: Be Aware of Increased College Expenses
#9: Appreciate Fewer Classroom Hours
10: Brace for an Increased Academic Load
11: Understand that Attendance is Your Responsibility
12: Look Forward to Expanded Social Opportunities
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KARLA’s Answer

Greetings, Morrigan! I know that the shift from high school to college can feel daunting, but rest assured, you'll adjust smoothly.

In college, the coursework may be more demanding, but it's also more tailored to your passions. You'll have the autonomy to choose your schedule and courses, giving you the chance to delve into various areas of study. As for living independently, you'll acquire skills in managing your money and time. By setting up a budget and honing your time management abilities, you'll be able to maintain a healthy balance between academics and social activities. Don't forget to take advantage of the campus resources like tutors and study groups for academic assistance. Best of luck!
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