Is College Actually Better Than High School?
Okay, yeah, everyone says college is better than high school, and that in a few years, high school will just feel like a bad dream. But is that really true? I know I didn’t buy it. Because I didn’t think my high school experience was that bad.
Now, though? Now I know things can be so much better.
College is the place to find like-minded people. For me, this was a huge thing. Just meeting people who finally, finally, thought the same way I did helped me feel so much more at home.
– Denise Glick
I went to a small, private school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And when I say small, I mean small. There were 22 people in my graduating class. Grades K-12 were in the same building. I had pretty much the same teachers every year. It was small and it was conservative. And anyone who knows me knows that I’m the exact opposite of conservative.
I won’t lie and say it wasn’t an issue, because it was. Especially in AP Government, even though our teacher did a great job mediating (shoutout to you, Mr. Coté). But I did my best to be friends with people in my class, even with our major differences. It was hard—I’ve never been part of the “in crowd”—but during senior year, I felt like I was making some real progress with friendships. I thought life was good.
Which meant I was nervous to start college. I had finally found a solid friend group, and I worried college was going to completely reverse all the progress I had made. It turns out, though, I didn’t have anything to worry about. The first week was a bit tough—orientation, for me, was…an adventure—but once classes started and I found a routine, things settled down. I was enjoying most of my classes and my newfound “freedom,” but I still didn’t have a friend group like everyone else seemed to. That meant I was walking to class alone, going to the Dining Hall alone, studying in the library alone… you get the point.
This was hard. In high school, I always had my best friend, Flora. But now she was 7,000 miles away, back in South Korea. One of the podcasts I try and listen to regularly (“Always Open” by Rooster Teeth, go give it a listen!) has talked in the past about the importance of doing things by yourself and being comfortable with it. During the first few weeks, I repeated their words to myself. I told myself this is healthy, this is necessary, this is okay. And while I’m immensely glad to have a solid friend group now, learning to exist by myself has been an invaluable experience. I’ve found little tips and tricks to make being alone easier, like watching a video at lunch or reading a book to avoid social media. Even now, sometimes I just need a night to myself. That’s taught me that I don’t always need a reason to not hang out, too. Saying “I can’t” or “I’m not feeling it tonight” is just fine and totally valid.
Speaking of friends and friend groups, college is the place to find like-minded people. For me, this was a huge thing. Just meeting people who finally, finally, thought the same way I did helped me feel so much more at home. I found friends that I can be myself around more so than I was ever able to with my high school friends. Besides, most people here chose to come to Arcadia. It’s not like high school, where you’re forced (whether by school districts or parents) to stay at a certain school.
All of this is to say, yes, high school may feel like a bad dream for some of you. Even a few months after graduation, when you’re busy with something new, chances are you’ll barely remember what high school was like. So, for all the high schoolers out there who aren’t having the best time, don’t worry. Things will get better.