We are never the same person when we walk out of college as when we enter. There is no denying that college triggers change in us in a way that high school never did. When we leave school, we leave behind our teenage years and a protective home environment.
Here are some things things that I found were profoundly different from from what we learn at school:
High school is isolated from what adults call “the real world”. Once in college, I was expected to participate in and be aware of the world, in terms of politics, law and economic policies. There was no shield to protect me from the harsh realities of the world in which I had to decide my place.
Being a college student meant that my parents were not around to make decisions for me. From what I could eat for lunch to what subjects I wanted to pick in the coming years, I had all big and small choices on my own shoulders. While high school is often geo-centric, in that we are the centres of our own worlds, college begins to amalgamate the world and one into the proverbial melting pot, allowing us all to start exploring our roles in the world. The main difference in the two experiences is that high school forms our base, while college, adding and subtracting a few layers here and there, lets us sally forth into “the real world.”
There are some things that you just don’t learn unless you try your hand at it. Budgeting on one’s own expenditure tops that list for me. It becomes a priority, as handouts from parents come few and far between, which contrasts with the new-found freedom of being a college student. Money management, between trying to balance out social engagements, food, shopping (even for textbooks) starts becoming a personal responsibility, rather than just following our parent’s instructions.
For most of us, as we struggle through three or four years of college, experiencing different subjects, identities, beliefs, our plans for the future continue to evolve. This happens just at the time we realize the risks of the outside world and the benefits it offers. The abstract question of “What am I going to do in life?”suddenly becomes an important life decision. The dreaminess and vagueness of school life contrasts sharply with the practicality and urgency of college life.
Break in barriers-
The hierarchies of Dean, Professor, Teaching Assistant and student are less rigid in college than in high school. We stand on more equal ground with our teachers and as such, take a much more active role in the teaching-learning framework. The unyielding high-school routine of standardized tests are replaced with assignments that allow us to express and explore more. College now becomes the chance to take the lead and offer something new. It gives us a chance to create our own boundaries and our own experiences through what we put forth to the world.
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