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College life features more independence

By Ashley Venegas

Staff Writer

Your morning alarm goes off, and you trudge along to school. You leave school in the afternoon, do homework and the rest of the day is yours. This cycle repeats daily, with only two days to snooze in and enjoy the full day. This is the typical life for your average high schooler, at least until you graduate.  

Sorority groups, sports teams, clubs, night classes, lectures, dorms: the college life. Students getting accepted into college is a big goal for all schools across America. Of course, you hear stories about college from your teachers, older siblings, parents and family, but it’s still a little scary experiencing college for yourself, right? So what are you supposed to expect? What’s different? What’s the same?

San Francisco University student Vianet Denise Orozco Ortiz gave the details on the major differences between high school life and college life.

The Leonard J. Paul Library at San Francisco University PHOTO CREDIT: Vianet Orozco
Snapshot between the HSS building and science building at SFU PHOTO CREDIT: Vianet Orozco
SFU’s mascot statue in front of the gym PHOTO CREDIT: Vianet Orozco

The main question here: What are some major differences you have noticed during the transition from high school to college? “If you want to succeed in college, you have to actually try and attend office hours,” Orozco said. “Teachers are not going to be there to hold your hand, especially if you go to their office hours when you’re already failing or for the last final.”

Self-maintenance and discipline is a big part of the academic lifestyle transformation, as she mentioned, but what was the most unexpected change for her? Orozco said the amount of free time she had between classes seemed to be the most unexpected change for her, whether that was five hours or a full day.

Orozco attended Summit Public Schools: Rainier, a charter high school with the main purpose of preparing students for college. According to Orozco, the transition from Summit Rainier to SFU was “in some ways smooth, in others rocky,” specifically studying for midterms and finals. She recommends that Summit Rainier should begin teaching students how to study properly. However, she found that she could carry her own weight in seeking help and regularly attending office hours.

Overall, however, did Summit Rainier really prepare her for college? Orozco states that the school did indeed prepare her well. For example, it gave her the ability to “maneuver my courses” as well as to maintain a job and to provide for herself. 

All together, the transition seemed to have its ups and downs for Orozco, but how much has her daily lifestyle changed since high school? “I am more mature, have more responsibilities, and I have been able to make more networks,” she said. 

During the change in academic environments, Orozco said that the most helpful part was the support of her family and her ability to handle large amounts of work. What stayed the same throughout the change? “My time management, how persistent I am and my passion for pursuing my degree,” Orozco said. 

Orozco’s perspective of how high school actually changed her life was how she kept growing her thirst for knowledge. “High school only added fuel to the fire in me wanting to pursue my dream and have my dream job.”

We’ve covered the similarities and differences between high school and college, in education and lifestyle, but how is she managing now? Organization and commitment is a big help in college and, for Orozco, two of the most important skills to have.

As most would expect, being able to recognize when the appropriate time to be formal and not to be is essential. “Having that skill could really make things easier for you. People will see that you are responsible enough to know when to be mature and when you can slack off a bit. Professors and seniors will appreciate it.”

Another essential is “simply being open-minded.” College is “a great way to find what you want to do and where it’s your life is going to lead you,” Orozco explained. Being active in sports and clubs is a great way to explore what you like, she mentioned, adding that students should not be worried if maybe their first choice in majors isn’t what they expected: “Take your time and trust in what you want to do.”

From Orozco’s perspective, it’s clear college will be a challenge; however, perfecting a couple skills could really help lighten the load. From my perspective as a freshman in high school, you still can’t help but be anxious about it.  

Like Orozco used to, I attend Summit Rainier. My middle school was in a different area, so I didn’t know anyone when I first arrived. My middle school was also much bigger, and a bigger school means more people.

In terms of social environments, I made a small group of friends pretty quickly, and I found that I’m more comfortable with a smaller environment.

In terms of academics, I wasn’t too surprised. Naturally, I expected high school to be more difficult than middle school. Actually, I was more surprised with the fact that I had less homework than in middle school. At Summit Rainier, we usually have PLT, or Personal Learning Time, on a daily basis, so that is a big help in getting things done before I leave school.

I can say that between me and my friends, we each have different schedules outside of school. It really depends on the person and their own personalities and interests. I personally like to participate in things outside of school more than in school, such as art and sports. As far as how high school impacted my life, I definitely know I’ve been a lot busier since high school started. 

The amount of difference between high school and college can change depending on the person, as I previously mentioned. There are many variables for this. People who naturally are more organized and adapt easier might have an easier transition than others who struggle a bit more. It also depends on the way they were taught and the people around them.

Every person has their own experiences; this is just a comparison between two people. However, this can at least give you a small head start on what to expect. 

Since the interview, I have been feeling a little less anxious than before. Now,  I know a little more of what to expect and what I can do to better prepare myself. Studying hard and learning how to be more independent will be something I will practicing in the future. College will be difficult, but I’ve learned that with self-discipline and organization I can make my college experience a bit easier.


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