No matter how much my sister and older friends told me about their college experiences before I had my own, there are just some things I wouldn't learn until I entered the collegiate world myself — like how not to shrink a shirt in the dryer, and what it feels like to be sexiled in a communal dorm room — just to name a few. Preparing for college may seem straightforward at first, but just hearing other people tell their stories won't get you ready for the hookup-driven, puke-ridden, independent-living, big kid jungle that is college. Want to know what did make the transition easier? High school. High school did a fine job in other aspects of helping me ease into university life. In fact, there are several ways high school prepared me for college. I credit those adolescent years for giving me the tools I needed to get off on the right track.
You're not the same person from the time you enter high school as an awkward, prepubescent twerp to graduating with the legally recognized status of being an adult. At 18 years old, you've grown and learned enough about the real world to take on the next step. And isn't that what advancing to the next level of education is all about? Primary school prepares you for secondary school, and secondary prepares you for college. Here are nine ways the four years leading up to that high school diploma had your back all along.
1. Passing those AP tests finally pays off
So maybe AP chem wasn't the easiest class you took in high school, but I promise you'll never again regret keeping your nose buried in those Princeton Review books for weeks at a time. Not only will you save tons of money from required credits you already have, but you can be more lenient with your course choices. Passing an AP test in high school could potentially help you avoid taking your most hated subjects in college, and with a stack of mandatory/elective credits, you can definitely graduate on time — and maybe take a class like yoga or art just for fun, too.
2. College classes will seem short compared to high school periods
When you step out of your first 50-minute class and realize you only have to attend two or three times a week, you'll feel a sense of relief. After four years of a grueling 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. schedule and watching the clock slowly tick as each of seven classes dragged on, a couple hours of class each day doesn't seem so bad at all.
3. Balancing all those extracurriculars taught you proper time management
High school kids these days are busy. They wake up early to go to school, stay late to play sports or attend club meetings, and then after commuting home, they have hours of homework to complete before repeating the process. But practice makes perfect, and after doing all that for so long, prioritizing and still making time for fun will seem like a piece of cake.
4. You'll know how to work under pressure
Finishing your math homework six minutes before class started probably wasn't your proudest move in precalculus, but somehow managing to still pull out an A on that unit circle exam was a great accomplishment, indeed. No doubt there'll come a time — or, rather, 5,000 times — in college when you procrastinated just a teeny tiny bit, and all of a sudden, you're watching the sun rise, cursing it as your 8:30 a.m. lecture approaches. But alas, you finished all your work, and your all-nighter wasn't spent in vain!
5. Making friends seems easy
You've probably recycled your fair share of "BFFs" during your early teen years and dated a couple of duds, and by the time you graduated high school, you were a pro at this whole making-friends-each-school-year thing. Now, your pool of potential friends and crushes is significantly larger, and if you could solidify a group of friends out of a few hundred kids, you're golden in a population of thousands in class, dorms, dining halls, etc. Plus, when you're fresh out of high school, everyone is eager to make new friends.
6. If you liked sports, there are many opportunities
Having an athletic background in high school could help you qualify for a club team, or maybe score a scholarship. There are also tons of intramural sports you can join, no matter your skill level, but having a go-to sport helps you get involved either way. And even if you were only the spectator in the bleachers, having prior knowledge of at least one sport makes it easier to buddy up with new friends and attend all of the events.
7. You'll seek better relationships with your professors
I don't know about you, but I hugged some of my teachers at the end of school each year. I mean, they bestowed their wisdom on me every day for a year — how could I not? Chances are most relationships with your instructors in college won't be as personal, especially in big lecture halls, but it'll be natural to want to get to know them a little better. If you do make the effort to introduce yourself, visit office hours, or sit closer to the front of the room, you'd be surprised at how much some extra attention will help you in the long-run.
8. Previous limitations at home will make you love your newfound freedom
What's that? No curfew, you say? Mom and Dad can't hold you back? You can do practically whatever you want whenever you want?! There's never been a more glorious time to be alive. Your sheltered high school life will help you appreciate your new independence, but it'll also help you learn from your own inevitable mistakes. In a way, this "lack" of preparation only makes you stronger.
9. You'll know how to have fun in ways that don't involve binge drinking
Not every night in college is going to be a scene out of Animal House. Sometimes, it's nice just to kick back with friends while watching stupid YouTube videos and eating Nutella out of the jar. Don't feel obligated to obtain a fake ID before you turn the big 2-1. You can still goof off and have innocent fun just like you did in high school.