Difference between High School and College

December 28, 2016 by Editorial Team

Like any new phase of life, both high school and college can be intimidating. We know they only last for a couple of years, yet we cannot help feeling excited and scared. They both mark a new stage in life and bring new challenges for us to face. Do you know what those challenges are? What is the difference between high school and college?


High School vs College
High school students in a hallway

High school is the second phase of a child’s education. It is mandatory and free in most countries. While primary and middle school introduce children to the things they need to know in life, high school teaches them how to apply this information for potential future jobs and prepares them for even further studies.

High school students are between the ages of 14 and 18. Thus, their school routine is similar to that of the primary classes, with one hour sessions followed by breaks.

Teachers have several ways of making sure students understand the subjects. They can interact with them in class, give out assignments, and test them at the end of a term or sooner. At this point, the teacher’s involvement matters more in order to motivate children. This is important because high school grades count for college enrollment. However, medium results are enough to pass exams and graduate high school.

College students in a classroom

College is higher education and it is the phase of education that refines the information taught and trains professionals. There are specific industries in which you can work only if you have a college degree – doctors, marketing executives, software developers, engineers, lawyers, professors. Therefore, because it increases one’s chance for a high paying job, a college education is expensive. Even so, students have the chance to apply for scholarships, take out loans, or work to support themselves.

Because college is a voluntary form of education, students are in charge of their own time and school performance. Students are usually between the ages of 19 and 23. They do not need supervision while on campus.

Also, it is more difficult to graduate college. Exams are tough and the professors are very demanding. Even the grading system may seem subjective and depend solely on what the professor wants.

High School vs College

So what is the difference between high school and college?

High school students are between the ages of 14 and 18 and complete their studies by learning to apply the concepts they have been introduced to in grade school. College students are typically between the ages of 19 and 23 and they learn subjects to prepare them for a career. High school is guaranteed by the state in most countries and is often free, while students choose whether they want to go to college or not. Also, college is expensive.

High school students are still under adult supervision and the teachers are meant to motivate them. On the other hand, college students are adults and are in charge of managing their own time and studying. Their professors are strict and not necessarily involved in motivating the students. In high school, graduation should not be very difficult with a moderate amount of interest. In college, however, classes and exams are very difficult, but they are all worth the effort because of the possibility of getting a high paying job at the end.

Comparison Chart

High SchoolCollege
Students are between 14 and 18Students are between 19 and 23
Is mandatory educationIs a higher and voluntary form of education
FreeVery expensive
Curricula is state regulated for all students to pass the same standardized tests at the endCurricula depends on the type of university and the professor
Teachers can give a bad grade if a student does not do homeworkProfessors may not even check the assignments
Exams are at a medium level of difficultyExams are very difficult
Teachers are very involved and need to motivate studentsProfessors are more distant
Grades matter for college admissionsGrades matter to stay in school and for certain jobs