College Is Different Than High School

College Is Different Than High School

You're so sick of hearing it, but it is so true.

It's December. Half of the school year is over and you only have so much time left to enjoy your last few months of High School. The football games are over and you already attended your last homecoming dance. You're looking forward to prom and gradation, but what about after Graduation? What are you going to do? Have you complete your college applications? Picked a major? Visited the schools you want to attend? There's so much to do!

As someone nearing the end of her college career, of the most common things we heard when we were in high school was that "college is different than high school." And as a junior or senior in high school, it's honestly the last thing you want to hear. You're going through this process of making these huge decisions that 17 and 18 year olds are not ready to make. Trying to pick a major that you're going to be happy with so you don't have to change it four times! Trying to decide if you want to move away from home, trying to decide how you'll financially be able to pull everything off.

No matter how much you prepare and plan, you're never truly ready for that transition. Your senior year, you want to enjoy your last year with your friends before "real life" starts. What's even worse is if you're someone who honestly has no idea what you want to do with your life. You just can't seem to decide what you want to do and what your plan is.

Your last year of high school can be filled with all of this pressure with what comes next and so I'm going to tell you what comes next. But I'm also going to tell you about how college really is different than high school.

When I was in high school I was exactly where you are. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I didn’t know the process of applying to college or who I needed to talk to. I didn’t understand financial aid or the difference between tuition and loans. In high school, I played soccer and softball, was voted Most Outgoing, and was nominated for Prom Queen. I was an average student and had great relationships with my teachers. School was much more social for me than it was educational.

I didn't have any kind of plan for what I wanted to do next. So I didn't do anything. I didn't stress over my SAT's, I never visited or applied to any colleges. I simply just told myself I deserved a break and wasn't ready to make such big decisions.

You're probably thinking "OMG this girl is crazy!" And you're right. It was pretty crazy of me. But looking back now I don't regret a single thing. I spent two years working three jobs before I made the decision to go back to college.

I have plenty of advice to give on the college process. After two years of being out of school, three years at community college and a year and a half away from receiving my bachelors degree and I'm simply going to tell you this,

College is different than high school.

I wish I would have believed everyone who told me that. It is such a different environment and nothing like how you expect it to be. Even as a commuter I find something new that I love every day. Maybe that love comes from taking the time off, but I truly love college.

The professors are different, your classmates are different, and there is so many ways to get involved. No one will judge you for sleeping in your car or for wearing pajama pants to class. Most people are super willing to help you out and are are really understanding.

Sure, some people are there to slack off and they don't want to be there. But the college experience is what you make it and if you spend time with people you like and study hard, all of this pressure you're under now will be so worth it.

When you're there, get involved! Go to sporting events, join clubs, and do all of the little fun things they plan on campus because you're paying all this money to go there, so you might as well enjoy it!

Make friends with a lot of people! Spending time with people who are different than you will change your life! It is also during this time that you learn more about yourself and figure out they type of person you're meant to be! It is a time for new beginnings, self exploration, and just learning in general! it is your first step towards adulthood and while that may scare you, you'll find that it starts to come naturally!

While I'm writing this to talk about college, I want to say another important thing. While I love college, it may not be for everyone! So please don't even be discouraged with the path you choose to take. Maybe you'll take some time off like I did. Or maybe you have a great job lined up already! Maybe you'll go to a trade school or join the Military! Do whatever it is that makes your heart happy and do not give up! And never forget there is no shame in changing your path or deciding to go back to school later on in life!

So as you're going though your last year of "being a kid" remember these things. Always keep your head up and push through, even if its 3AM and you have two more pages of that 13 page research paper to write. Always strive for greatness and do the very best you can! Your GPA is important but not as important at your sanity, so take a study break and go to the movies with your friends. Most importantly enjoy yourself and remember how you'll look back on these years and how you'll be so proud of yourself!

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation and good luck with whatever you choose to do!

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An Open Letter To My High School Self

"How did you go from being one of the best, to being such a complete fucking joke?"

Hey, you. Yes, you. The person that could work 4 pm to 10 pm schedules six days a week, yet be up for school at 6 am five days a week? The person that could consistently have just shy of $1,000 on any given day? That person who could get his bills paid without assistance? You were the model employee. What happened to him?

Yet, despite all that, you could consistently get As and Bs throughout your high school life, and met deadlines no matter what happened. You got damn near great attendance throughout your junior and senior years of high school. You never, ever allowed yourself to make excuses whenever there would be a hurdle you needed to climb to achieve maximum excellence in your high school life. You never settled for anything less than a 3.0 in any subject. You were the model student. What happened to him?

Between 7th grade and late 2013, you were looked up to as the model student, son, and employee. Then, something changed in you. What was it?

Granted, you got fired from your first job at the turn of the new year in 2014, but you seemed to bounce back from that very smoothly a few weeks later and continued the excellence that carried you all those years. Things looked to be smooth sailing in your life.

Until that fateful day in March 2014, when you found out that your father, the hero in your life, tragically passed from us due to a heart attack. It rocked you, and you forgot who you were for a few months. Yet, you still powered through, and still attended work not too long after his death. You still had that solid excellency throughout your life, but we saw some cracks show through you.

Then, you started to show up late for work. Started to dabble in shit you should not have been involved in with no knowledge. Your attitude towards work, life, friends, and family noticeably started to change. That was the extent of the cracks that proved to be warning signs that something was going amiss.

The further extent of those cracks began getting bigger and bigger when you attended school after taking the 2013-14 academic year off. Your first semester proved to be mediocre at best. Okay, it’s been a year. Work off the rust, you’ll return stronger than ever.

You bounced back with a bang in the Winter of 2015 when your semester GPA matched your high school GPAs. Life was still looking great, but those cracks never seemed to be sealed, as was evident in the late summer-fall of 2015. Your financial life started to slowly take a shit, as some late payments on bills started to become more prevalent. You started to miss due dates on the regular. During the fall of 2015, you started to sink further and further.

During the fall of 2015, you decided to switch up what was working, and never got a grade above a 3.0. You decided to take evening classes, which would prove to be a bad idea due to the aforementioned grade point average. Maybe a fluke?

Winter of 2016 was a mixed bag. At the start of the year, you idiotically quit your job, leaving you unemployed for three months of the year. During that stretch, some signs that you were taking more involvement in your school life by joining The Odyssey Online. It was met by being a hit; you even got the most views for a week on a particular article. On your 22nd birthday, no less.

Then, your inability to get shit done within the deadlines caught up with you, badly there.

Summer 2016 proved to be a hell summer, financially and, especially socially, with the divisiveness with the election. It’s okay, shake it off, and have an impressive fall of 2016.

You did indeed have an impressive fall of 2016, getting above a 3.5 in two of your three classes. Even with the hostility during the 2016 election, with you yourself on the receiving end of some negative comments during and after the night of 11/8/2016, you still powered through and got your financial life and academic life still in order.

Then, the winter of 2017 hit, and so did your academic life. You, again, idiotically took evening classes even though you knew what would happen, considering you did the same thing two years prior. You were not so lucky this time, as you barely scraped by with a 2.0.

As you’re approaching the final few semesters of your collegiate career, one question I still have for you, Travis. What the fuck happened to you? What happened to that model student, employee, family member, and an overall person that was there from 2007-13? What happened from going from that to the lazy fuck-up that you are now? I know you’re still in shock about your father passing, and that would have an understandably negative impact on somebody, but still. You’re better than that, Travis.

At least I thought you were.

Signed, junior and senior year of high school Travis

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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My Experience with Catholic School

Sex Education in Private Catholic Schools

From pre-k to my senior year of high school I had attended catholic school. It was fairly common where I’m from in Connecticut to attend private school rather than a public school, even if you were not Catholic whatsoever. The schools, especially in the early 2000’s, were not the best. Because of this, my parents opted for me to attend a private school. I’m thankful that I was sent there because at the other schools, the environment was rough. However there are some things about catholic school that I personally take issue with.

Sex Education was a huge issue and still is. In many ways even calling it sex education is a joke. I remember our first lessons began in fifth grade. This class was called “family life”. Together we were taught about the sacrament of marriage and how having a child specifically in a marriage is a gift from God. For the actual anatomy of the female and male body, we were not actually separated based on gender. In sixth grade, all lessons besides the ones on marriage, we were separated. The boys would be brought to the nurse’s office by our priest where they had their own lesson. The lessons were incredibly basic and was not really sex ed. My school, like many schools did and still do, took the abstinence approach. As girls, we were taught that our virginity was very special and only for our future husbands. Virginity, in simple terms, was vaginal penetration, though it was never even directly stated, teachers just implied at it. If we were to lose our virginity before that, it was a grave sin. Our bodies were tainted, or at least that is what we were taught. I really do not know what the boys were told in their sessions, but I’m sure the purity aspect was not pushed on them as much as it was on the girls.

As I stated before, what we learned was basic. We were taught things like how to label the vagina, but not know the usage of each anatomical part like how periods occurred and what to do, and the basic anatomy of a penis. In high school, it did not get much better. We were being taught the same material along with information on STD’s, how to do a self-check for breast cancer, and drugs and alcohol were tied in. I did not learn anything that I did not already know. Much of my sexual education came from Google. Until I was fifteen, I didn’t even know what lesbians did sexually until a girl in theatre explained it to me.

My main point of this article is that this is a serious problem. Abstinence-only education does not work very well. A research article on Vice states that it does not only fail when kids have sex but also leads to unintended pregnancies as well as the spread of std’s. Those who try to maintain abstinence tend to not use condoms during sex or use any kind of contraceptives. I also would argue that the lessons are rather discriminatory. Only learning about heterosexuality truly limits what you know. Though one person may not be gay, understanding and having acceptance is a good skill for the people you may meet. Overall, I think this type of education does nothing but confuse adolescents and leave them to their own devices.

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