Transitioning from high school to postsecondary education can be rocky for many freshmen students.
For instance, a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) said that up to 94% of students experience homesickness at some point during the first 10 weeks of college.
However, the four years of college are the most enjoyable time for most people simply because life is mostly fun in the early 20s.
College is more fun than high school in many ways, from academics, social life to extracurriculars. There are plenty of opportunities for undergraduate students to practice their independence and self-determination while trying out new things in life, meeting new people and managing their own time and money.
Enthusiastic to go to college but petrified, too, for fear that it’s going to be an entirely different world?
Well, you are correct in thinking that it’s going to be a 180-degree turn from high school — college is a realm that’s so much bigger and more challenging.
However, while this presents some complications, it also comes with compensation in the form of fun and exciting experiences you will love recollecting for the rest of your life!
Why Academics in College Are More Fun than in HS
There’s no doubt that college courses are more challenging than high school courses.
It’s exactly because of this why high schoolers who take AP classes, which are harder than traditional high school classes since they are college-level, usually have better chances of getting an acceptance letter from selective colleges.
But there are many things that make postsecondary academics better than that of high school.
1. Less time spent in classrooms
The average college student takes about 5 classes per semester. Enrolling in that many classes every term allows them to graduate within 4 years.
But it’s possible for students to take more classes every semester to graduate faster. They may also choose to take fewer classes each semester, an option usually grabbed by working individuals.
In any case, the fact remains that undergraduates typically spend less time within the confines of the 4 walls of a classroom than in high school.
Per day, high schoolers usually have 6 to 7 classes — sometimes 8!
2. Courses can be selected based on interest
Most colleges and universities in the US require undergraduate students to take at least 40 credits of general education classes. Doing the math, that’s equivalent to 12 3-credit courses and 2 2-credit courses.
The rest of the classes are core classes (necessary for program completion) and electives.
Speaking of which, while it’s always a good idea to take elective classes that you may be able to apply to your future career, you can opt for those that you are interested in — whether you are currently passionate about them or looking to explore and understand them better.
In college, no one will stop you from taking elective classes that you like.
3. Classes go from large to small
While there are usually fewer classes to attend in college than in high school, you may find it surprising that the majority of them are larger than in secondary school.
As a matter of fact, some of them are so large that classes are held in massive lecture halls — very large college classes are usually made up of 41 to 60 students or more.
But that will depend on how far along you are in your undergraduate education: as you get closer to earning your bachelor’s degree, classes become smaller and smaller as courses become more specialized.
Extracurriculars: Fun Today and Preparation for the Future
It’s common knowledge that partaking passionately and meaningfully in extracurricular activities helps high school students get admitted to their dream colleges, in particular selective ones.
However, the perks of partaking in EAs go beyond college admissions — it also allows high schoolers to have fun, develop new skills, make new friends and even discover what they would like to do professionally in the future.
There are also extracurriculars in college, which enable undergraduate students to enjoy a number of benefits.
Skills and experience for better job marketability
Numerous EAs in college are professional organizations associated with certain majors.
Needless to say, joining the ones that have something to do with what you are majoring in can help you apply things you learn inside the classroom to things outside the classroom. So, in other words, they help you prepare for the future just like academics.
High school students learn a host of skills from extracurriculars, which college admissions officers love.
In college, on the other hand, the presence of EAs on your resume gives employers an idea of the skills you have. So, in other words, it can make you stand out from the rest of the candidates.
Participating in clubs and organizations, especially those that are related to the undergraduate degree you are working on, can help you build a strong network.
Establishing formal relationships in college can lead to higher-paying and more satisfying job opportunities after graduation and even facilitate the attainment of a professional status.
Sport is a big part of campus life
Athletics dominates the lives of college students.
Whether playing or simply adoring sports, everyone can get the school spirit like a highly contagious disease.
Despite what it’s called, college athletics can be addictive not only to college attendees but also everyone of all ages — you may still feel the pride long after you have graduated.
Believe it or not, sports participation is not only about cheering for your college’s varsity teams. According to many studies, involvement in it can improve the academic performance of college students.
Social Life: Endless Possibilities
Earlier, I mentioned that the majority of first-time, first-year college students experience homesickness at some point several weeks from the start of their pursuit of an undergraduate degree.
Although it’s true that you will have to leave behind old friends, heading to an institution of higher education far away from home is a wonderful opportunity for you to make new ones — 64% of people say that their closest friends were peers in college.
There are many ways through which you can establish new relationships as an undergraduate.
A more diverse campus than a high school’s
Everyone in high school is from the same area and the same age, too.
On the other hand, individuals on a college campus come from different cities, states and countries.
They also vary in terms of age as well as cultural, political and religious beliefs. A diverse campus allows you to be friends with unique and interesting students.
One of the nicest things about being besties with those who are different from you is that it allows you to learn more about them while at the same time learning more about yourself.
Like-minded members of clubs and organizations
Here’s another great thing about partaking in extracurriculars in college that I didn’t mention above: meeting people whose dreams and interests are similar to yours.
Needless to say, you will meet a lot of like-minded students by joining clubs and organizations. And because each one of those whom you will befriend has his or her own set of buddies, you can make an endless number of friends. Everyone can come to the rescue each time you are feeling the pressure of trying to earn an undergraduate degree.
Especially if Greek life is big at the college you are attending, joining a fraternity or sorority group will enable you to meet even more people and expand your network further.
Meeting people at work
According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, nearly 70% of all college students are employed at the same time they’re enrolled.
And if you end up one of them, it’s an opportunity not only for you to develop transferable skills and make money but also for you to build friendships and networks.
With friends at work, you can enjoy more opportunities to unwind and even discover yourself and what you want to do in life after college. Getting bored should be the least of your worries as there are pals on and off campus.
The people you meet at work can also step in when it’s time for you to enter the professional world.
Just Before You Have Fun in College
I always tell my children that college was the best time of my life.
I didn’t have much money. I studied hard to get good grades.
But I also met my best friends, had relationships, attended parties, and maybe broke some rules.
In the end, this time was the best because I was young. Sometimes, I think that I would be happy even if I didn’t attend college, but meeting like-minded people would be harder in such a case.
Is college life stressful?
It’s not uncommon for college students to feel stressed. How much stress they experience will depend on an assortment of things. Some of them include the majors of their choosing and the everyday choices they make such as which things they choose to prioritize and how well they manage their time, money and other resources.
Do college students feel lonely?
According to a report, around 53% of college students say that they are lonely. On the other hand, about 47% of them are worried about being isolated. But with plenty of opportunities to make new friends and discover new hobbies and pastimes in college, students can enjoy a lifted mood.
Read Next: 11 Things Students Do in College: #9 is Real
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.