Comparing American High School Life with College Life
Rites of passage come at many times in the individual’s life. The first driving lesson and eventual driver’s license for example. One of the more notable rites of passage however, is that high school diploma and the prospect of going to college to chase one’s hopes and dreams. What follows focuses on what might await that new college freshman as we seek to compare American high school life and college life, and what that can mean for student and family.
So what can the new high school graduate expect upon entering the collegiate environment? This will depend largely on whether they are a commuter or living on campus. The commuter while engaged in the college life often has a different experience and expectation from that of the student who lives on campus. The on campus student finds themselves immersed in a life of new freedom and responsibility. They find themselves responsible for the everyday chores that up to now had been performed by someone else or at the very least under the influence of someone else. This requires a new attitude regarding time management. For instance, when do I get up, when do I go to class, when do I eat, what do I eat, when do I do the laundry and of course when do I study? This new independence is that very rite of passage we discussed earlier. All of the sudden the student is not only in charge but responsible for the decisions they make. The commuter has many of the same responsibilities yet it is sociologically different because there are underlying influences that can aide in the executing of personal responsibilities and decisions. However, in today’s economical environment commuting and staying at home while attending college has become a choice of both economics and convenience.
In comparing high school and college life the real difference, outside of the newfound independence is in the social environment. While high school has its numerous clubs and extracurricular activities the college environment presents both service opportunities and social opportunities designed to engage the student in activity and sociological growth. One such example is the fraternity (men) and sorority (women) or “Greek" societies which exist on all university campuses. These social organizations are designed to engage the new student in instant friendships and support for their transition into college life. While it is not for every student entering college it can be a place where the new collegian can find support and encouragement both socially and academically. The same can be said of the Residence Hall environment however, the real difference here is in the interpersonal relationships and organizational characteristics of the two. It should be noted here that many universities require that the incoming freshmen live in the Residence Hall for the first year but exceptions can and are made for those who pledge fraternities and sororities.
In addition to the above the student can use student services to find other service organizations to participate in such as Student Government and Black Student Union to name a few. In addition each academic department has within it their own service organizations. These are generally made known to the new college student during new student orientation. There are plenty of new opportunities that will present the new collegian with opportunities to meet new people and enhance their college experience. How much and how often is a question each individual will have to answer for themselves.
In the end whether commuting or living on campus, college signals the beginning of a new and exciting time in a young person’s life. They find themselves immersed in both academic and social environments which help them to express and find their own voice. They will be both challenged and supported. Most importantly they will discover their life’s passion and how they will share it. High school dances, athletic events and friendships will be part of their memories but college will be that life stamp which will carry them to new heights. Will it be challenging? Yes! Will it be rewarding? Absolutely! Welcome to the next step in your life’s journey.