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Jul 17 2016
by Katharine Tripp

11 Differences Between Being a Freshman in High School and a Freshman in College

By Katharine Tripp - Jul 17 2016

Freshman year of college. It's new, exciting and you're right back at the bottom of the food chain where you started four years ago. But now, there's a difference. Actually, a lot of them. You're an adult living on your own, and there is so much that comes with that. While it's an opportunity to start somewhere new, you're actually pretty solidified in who you are and what you like, so it's all about finding it and settling in for the ride. 

1. When you were fourteen, you might not have hit puberty yet.


Now, your voice, and everything else, has dropped, and you can feel like a confident adult in an adult body, instead of a teen that feels awkward about their appearance.

2. When you were a freshman in high school, you might not have known a lot about yourself, what you're interested in or which kind of friends you want. You may have joined tons of clubs, or none at all. 


Now you probably have a better idea of what you like, and know what you want to join once the activities fair rolls around. 

3. As a freshman in high school, you found yourself somewhere in the food chain of high school popularity. 


College is so much bigger than high school, those food chains will disappear. Sure, there will always be the quarterback and the class president that everyone knows, but there will also be a perfect niche for everyone, and it won't feel like there's a group you're better or worse than.

4. When you were a freshman in high school, there was so much pressure to get a date to the first dance of the year, usually homecoming, whether you were the asker or the askee. 


Now, you can take someone you like to formal, or you can go hang out in your dorm with friends. Dances aren't so much pressure, and it won't be a big deal if you choose not to go, or choose not to take someone. 

5. As a freshman in high school, your weekends were probably packed homework, if you weren't also busy playing sports, doing volunteer work or collecting skills and experiences to put on your resume.


Now you can use your weekends to take a nap, do activities you like or party with your friends! Freshmen in college are notorious for partying too hard though, so make sure you stay with people you know. 

6. As with number four, there was also so much pressure freshman year of high school to start dating (if you were allowed, that is).


In college, lots of people like to date casually, or not at all. It all depends on your preference. While some people find their future spouse in college, lots of others find themselves. This time is so special, and you don't need to be defined by dating someone. 

7. When you were a freshman in high school, you were probably not responsible for too much of your own finances and expenses.


Now, if you're lucky enough to have your college covered by parents or scholarship, you still have to worry about budgeting for food and social life. There's a lot of responsibility that comes with living on your own, after all.

8. As a freshman in high school, there were so many labels you were terrified - or excited - to get stuck with: nerd, jock, theater kid or teacher's pet.


In college, no one cares about the labels. You won't be labeled for being smart, athletic or anything else. You'll just be you. 

9. As a freshman in high school, you may not have been concerned about your future. Sure, in junior and senior year you might have realized you had to step up your game for college, but freshman year was mostly just getting used to everything, not preparing for your ENTIRE LIFE. 


In college, even as a little freshman, every grade counts. Whether it's grad school or a career market right after college, they'll be looking at everything, including your first semester. You always have to be thinking of the next chapter. But remember, a bad grade isn't going to ruin everything. Take your time to adjust to this new life. 

10. Your high school freshman classes were probably picked for you ~menu style~ and you had little say in what you wanted to take. 


Now in college, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of classes you can take. The choices are overwhelming. You can jump into exactly what you want to study, or you can take a little bit of everything. It's all up to you!

11. Finally, as a freshman in high school, you were constantly being guided by your parents, teachers and coaches on what was allowed or not. 


Now, you're entering a new world of freedom. You can choose how you want to dress, eat and study. It'll be fun, but also a LOT of responsibility. 

College has so much to offer, but living on your own is a brand new experience, not to mention a little scary. You can choose when and how to spend your money, and you can choose whether to set yourself back in life or not. It's not on your parents anymore, it's on you. Freshman year will be amazing if you remember to play hard AND work hard. 

Lead Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television

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Katharine Tripp - University of Virginia

Katharine is a freshman at the University of Virginia. She loves horses, paddle boards, and roller coasters. She hopes to major in English or Journalism, and loves to read and write in her spare time. Follow her on insta @katie_trippie !!

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