What was a fact about life that hit you the hardest when transitioning to high school and/or college?

Thanks for the kind words. I’ve met many students in the same boat as me and that has helped to reduce the feeling of being a fish out of water. I’ve found that my time management has certainly improved a lot since my last go-around.

I’m happy to hear you ultimately came out on top.

I had to get a job in college just to have something to do with my time.

I was never a great student, but I was consistent. I had 3.2 GPA in high school and a 3.2 in college. In high school I also played 3 sports (that covered the entire year in my area). I always worked at least the Sunday evening work shift. I built sets for/with the drama kids on Saturdays. I hung out with friends a lot.

My first day of college I went to class for 2 hours??? I went back to my dorm and people were done for the day and playing video games by 11 A.M… Wednesday was my long day because I had an afternoon lab??? By Thursday, I was walking around the small downtown with resumes and filling out applications. I had a job by the weekend.
That was also the last semester I had to take loans. (With a good deal of help from my parents, +/-50%)

I luckily did not cruise or slack, I just enjoyed it. My college classes were more challenging, but they were less work. For example, there were fewer homework problems assigned in my college math classes, but we covered more material in the first month than an entire year of high school math.

Going from being the smartest kid in every class to being surrounded by others who also were is emotionally challenging, and a lot of people go through that in college.

I was lucky in that I went to a very academically rigorous high school, so for the most part I was prepared, but the fact that college professors expected us to have mastered the stuff in the assigned book readings independent of what they covered in lecture was a surprise. In high school, we had to read the textbook, but we always went over it in class, and were tested over what we covered in class. There weren’t curveballs that were only in the book on our tests, unlike college.

Otherwise, socially it was fantastic. I loved being away from home and on my own.

I think what hit me was that there were real stakes on the line with grades in college. I had to maintain a 3.0 GPA to keep my biggest scholarship, so every quarter I would find myself running different scenarios, all the way down to individual term papers and exams. “If I get at least a 85 on the final exam for class X, that will leave me with a C in the class, which means I can keep my scholarship just as long as I get at least a B in everything else…” I never did this kind of stuff in high school. I never aimed for a C in high school. Cs in high school were a cause for sad tears. In college they were tears of relief.

Also, I never worried about taking all my required credits in high school. That’s the registrar’s job. But in college I had to plan (and thus stress out over) what classes I was going to take every year and parse the course hours to make sure I was on track for a 4-year matriculation. All the cautionary tales I’d heard from others who had had to stick around for another quarter to fill a neglected humanities credit had put me on notice.

idk if this was specifically a high school or college thing, but I wish someone had told me that I was going to work my ass off from the age 22-32 no matter what field I chose. I ditched a pretty lucrative grad program for something less lucrative that seemed easier, but nope.

Exactly the same for me. I didn’t last two years in my first college. To be fair (to me), it was the University of Chicago, and I did A level work in my major, but I couldn’t hack the full year of required biology taught almost entirely by TA’s.

I made that realization my last year of grad school. Realized that I didn’t want to do research for the rest of my life. And neither did I want to be a professor. It was scary to think that I’d wasted five years of my life and that I had “overqualified” myself for all the jobs that I was suited for. That last year of grad school was rough.

But I managed to keep going and I got the PhD. And I managed to figure out what I wanted to do; turns out that research experience can be invaluable to folks who aren’t researchers. I would never advise someone to do what I did (use graduate school to discover themselves). But I do tell grad students that they don’t have to have a clear idea of what they want to do. They just need to develop as many skills as they can so that they can jump into just about anything post-graduation.

Ha! I graduated with a degree in Physics, was accepted in the Engineering graduate program, and was spending the summer at home when I received a notice that I had not fulfilled my breadth requirements in History.

So I went to the registrars office and tried the argue that a Forestry (!) class I had taken was about the history of the conservation movement and should qualify. No luck. But in talking to the staff, they mentioned that there was an option to test out of the requirement. The test was in a month and it involved picking 2 (or 3?) topics out of half a dozen, to be tested through essay questions based on a reading list of books. So I spent the next month reading history books, took the test, and passed. Easy Peasy. (but boy was I sweating until I finished the test).

I actually wrote a computer script to parse the course catalog, pick from a set of classes that I met the requirements for and needed to graduate, did not have a schedule conflict, added up to a reasonable unit load, and (ideally) didn’t happen before 10 am. Worked well; I graduated a quarter early, and never really had an especially rough quarter.

I never had an especially rough quarter because I decided to go to summer school one year. I just took two courses (plus their labs), so they were manageable. But they would have killed me if I had tried to squeeze them in the other 12 quarters. I don’t know who advised me to go to summer school, but they told me good.

I was one of the kids who almost screwed this up. I was so excited to have so many course options I took whatever sounded cool. I took German, English, history, philosophy, Chinese literature (I was a Spanish major.) Then junior year I wandered in to meet with my counselor, and they were like, “uh… Did you maybe want to take some graduation requirements?”

Between that and having to take time off, it took me six years to graduate.

Oh, and I just remembered I took a reduced course load when I came back from my medical withdrawal. It was a tough time for sure. A part of me Ioved college but I regret often being too depressed to enjoy it.

I’m envious that you enjoyed your courses so much that you took the “wrong” ones. I was ready to get out as fast as possible.

I can finally look back on college with some fondness, but it has taken me almost 20 years to get to that point. I have no regrets about the college I chose but I still wish I had done some things differently.

I went to an engineering school with the intent of learning about computers, which I saw as a field with a big future. (It was 1980; I was right.)

What I didn’t see was that I had no particular affinity for what are now called STEM subjects. I had done okay in these subjects in high school so I assumed I could do okay with them in college. But as I said above, I failed to appreciate that I had moved up to a different level. Perhaps if I had figured that out, I might have been able to do the extra work that was required and gotten on top of these subjects. Perhaps not. But it’s a moot point; I tried to coast through these courses and did poorly.

What I found is that the courses I was enjoying the most and doing the best in were the history courses I was taking as requirements outside my supposed major. As a result I ended up drifting more towards history and by the time I dropped out of college I had switched to being a history major.

By the end of high school, I was completely burnt out. I hated school, I was getting poor grades, I was socially awkward. So, instead of applying for college, I got a job.

Four years later I finally decided I was stuck and needed a degree, I enrolled in a small technical college to learn special effects and animation.

I found two things. First, despite being 21 and married, a social group of similar geeky guys was enjoyable. Second and more importantly, learning was both challenging and enjoyable. This I should have known, but high school beat out of me. I used to read the encyclopedia for fun. It took until belated college to get that back.

Yes, exactly. I remember being accepted by one of Canada’s finest universities, where I, and my classmates were told, “You may have been top of your high school class to get accepted here, but now you’re competing against everybody who was also top of their high school class.” And many didn’t make it, choosing to drop out, or just plain failing.

I heard the same thing when I was accepted at law school: “You may have been top of your undergrad class to get accepted here, but now you’re competing against everybody who was also top of their undergrad class.” And the same thing happened–no matter how well you did in your undergrad was not necessarily indicative of how well you would do at law school. Accordingly, we had about 10% of our class drop out or flunk out.

No matter how smart you are or how well you did before, a new school and/or new environment with your peers means a whole new leveling of the pack. You’re no longer the smartest in the class; you’re just another student.

To add to this, I will never be as successful at my job as I was in academics. I had to face that reality after grad school.

This wasn’t my lesson, but it was my fellow freshmen’s lesson. They stuck a lot of engineers on my freshman dorm floor. Maybe 20. Exactly one graduated as an engineer, and many of the rest didn’t survive their first semester, Half the rest dropped out in the spring. One guy went home for the weekend, and never came back.

It didn’t help that we had an upperclassman who was popular, and partied hard, but knew how to study. The frosh picked up on the first habit, but missed the second.

I still wonder how their lives might have turned out differently if they were in a different dorm. Maybe they still wouldn’t have been ready for college, but they might have had a better chance.

In my case, it wasn’t so much about partying (though that was an element), but more that I never had a plan, academically speaking. I’m sure there were resources available to help me figure things out, but I never sought them out; I just kept waiting for someone to tell me what to do, like adults had my whole life. It took me way too long to pick up on the notion that I was supposed to be the adult now.