15 Ways College Is Nothing Like High School

15 Ways College Is Nothing Like High School

No one prepared me for THIS.


The first semester is rapidly coming to an end with Thanksgiving break among us and finals a month away. These first few months have been ridden with new experiences, lessons to be learned, and reality checks to go around. The most important lesson I reflect on, however, is the fact that high school does not prepare you for what college has to throw at you.

1. AP/IB classes don’t prepare you for the intensity of a college course.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the AP credit, but I truly wonder if College Board believes their curriculum accurately represents a college class. The minute I sat down in my first ECN 203 lecture, I knew it was nothing similar to high school economics. There are no demonstrations, nor are there study guides. Powerpoints contain minimal words and certainly no pneumonic devices.

2. No one forces you to go to class.

This has been my biggest enemy. Mom isn't here to drag me out of bed and send me on my way with coffee every morning, so if I want to stay in bed through my 8 a.m. AND my 9:30, that's all on me.

3. Sometimes you have four exams and a 10 page paper due in one week; you just have to suck it up and crank it out.

There's no more convincing the teacher to push the test back by a week. If it's in the syllabus, it's usually non-negotiable. Crying in the library only lasts for a few hours. Eventually, that paper has to be written and those exams have to be taken.

4. When your professor says read the textbook, read the damn textbook.

It's easy to get away with ignoring the twenty-page reading assignment the teacher leaves on the board in high school. No one ever read it anyway. Try falling five chapters behind in a college psychology class and I promise you will have wished to have read the textbook. Professors take exam questions right from the book, so there goes that two-point multiple choice question.

5. You can study for an exam for 14 hours straight and still show up feeling completely unprepared.

I still don't know how to properly study for a college exam. There's no more TI-84 calculator to write the answers in the Y= section. Sometimes a 16-page study guide and 127 notecards just don't cut it for a business professor.

6. Going to bed by 10:30 is a thing of the past.

No one ever expects their sleep schedule to be ruined. I still hear high school friends say they're going to turn in early around 11:30. Sorry honey, but one minute you're managing an eight hour per night sleep schedule and then you're pulling your first all-nighter at the library and still making it to class the next morning.

7. The library is your new home.

Imagine stepping foot in a library back in high school to do homework: weird, right? In college, you live, breathe, eat, and sleep in the library.

8. Being a broke college student is not an understatement.

As a shopping addict, I can attest to this. I won't share how much money I've spent since I got to school since someone is bound to yell at me, but when there's food to eat, clothes to buy, and bar covers to pay, the account dropped below $25 notification comes all too soon.

9. You call your mom for every little problem.

My mom is my personal reminder app, therapist, doctor, and of course, best friend. I call her when health services can’t give me an accurate diagnosis. I call her when I need advice. I call her when I probably failed an exam. At this point, she's probably sick of how often I call, but she seems to know everything about anything when I need her.

10. If you thought you drank a lot of coffee in high school, just wait until your first all nighter.

When you haven't slept in the past 24 hours, sometimes five shots of espresso aren't enough to keep you going through your 8 a.m. The only solution is to grab another three by 9:30. I'm not kidding either.

11. A lot of socks will go missing in the laundry room.

I'm sorry, but I've been here for three months and I've gone to Target on four separate occasions to replenish my sock collection. No one stole them, they just get lost in the abyss of the communal laundry room. Trust me, you'll miss mom doing your laundry.

12. Don’t expect to put on a full face of makeup and dress cute for your 8 a.m. class.

I was certainly guilty of this back in high school. Trust me, I'm lucky if I can roll out of bed ten minutes before class and wear the same sweatshirt I wore to bed.

13. Falling asleep at any point in the day, in random places is completely normal.

I knew so many people who were afraid to fall asleep in public because maybe they look weird or people would take pictures of them. Walk into the library, Panasci lounge, the lobby of any dorm, there's bound to be at least one person passed out at any given point in the day.

14. If you thought spirit week was crazy, wait for your first tailgate.

High school social life is nothing compared to a college social life. When you live at home, it's hard to just leave the house at 11 p.m. and go to a friends house. Here, you walk down the hall and barge right into your friend's room at all hours of the night.

On the weekends, there are no parents restricting the debauchery and setting a curfew, so coming home at 6 a.m. is normal and so is day drinking at 10 a.m. for the tailgate.

15. Telling me to be an adult doesn’t mean I actually know how to be one.

People will tell you that attending college is the next step in adulthood, but no one ever actually tells you how to be an adult. Don't ask me how to write a check, or which fork to use at a formal dinner, or even how to open my mailbox. This is what high school should have taught us. Instead, I know all too much about the mitochondria of a cell and I'm not even a biology major.

College is full of new opportunities and new faces, but in all honesty, it's one of the hardest adjustments to adulthood. It's a learning experience and some adapt faster than others, but even if you attended a college prep school, high school didn't prepare you for this.

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.


To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.


The nursing student with just one year left.

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12 Things Only People Under 30 Fully Understand

Only young millennials and Gen Z will know


Being a young adult in 2019 is full of a lot of random stuff that our parents and grandparents didn't have. We have more opportunities, different lifestyles, and just really weird stuff we didn't normal.

1. Our obsession with avocados

A super food with a huge place in our hearts.

2. College debt

An actual representation of me giving colleges my money, with no questions asked.

3. Buying jeans with wholes in them.


4. Memes

The hero we needed, but don't deserve

5. Gifs

A sort of sibling to the meme, but powerful in its own right.

6. Spending five dollars on coffee

Not a want, but a need

7. YouTube/Instagram influencers

They make the world go round.

8. Mason jars as cups, decorations basically anything that isn’t for their intended purpose.

So versatile

9. Our love of succulents

Why have kids when you could have ten cute succulents that don't talk back.

10. Renting instead of buying

Besides have like no actual financial stability, we prefer to live less conventional lives than our predecessors.

11. Our imminent downfall as a society

We never grew up in a time of prosperity, and also know the earth may be dying unless we make a significant change to how we treat it. I guess that’s what happens after we treat it like shit.

12. Being non-binary or gender fluid

A new concept where people don't have to conform to gender norms or even acknowledge them.


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