When I was preparing to go to college I wondered how hard it would be compared to high school.

This post will show you a number of ways in which college is more difficult than high school. It will also show you a number of ways in which it is also easier.

So, how hard is college compared to high school? The classes in college will generally be more difficult in college especially after your freshman year. However, there will be fewer classes, you’ll likely be taking classes that you’re more interested in and planning your schedule ahead of time can help reduce the difficulty significantly.

There are actually a number of ways in which college is more difficult than high school in addition to the classes being more difficult. With that being said there are many things that you can do to reduce the difficulty of college and there are a number of factors that will influence how hard college will be for you.

The classes are more demanding

The main way in which college is harder than high school is that the classes will normally be more difficult than the classes in high school.

In college, you will likely be learning about more advanced topics than you would in high school, you will go through the material more quickly and you will be expected to keep track of the schedule yourself.

This means that it won’t usually be enough for you to just go to class and to take the tests based on what you remember from the lectures. If you want to get good grades in college then it will be necessary for you to spend more time studying in your own time.

Additionally, college classes will often have weekly homework assignments which will mean that you will need to spend time working on them when out of class.

Also, the homework assignments in college will not usually make up a large part of the grade. Most college classes will have one or two tests, called “midterms,” during the semester and then a final at the end of the semester. Normally, the midterms will have a lower weighting than the final exam.

The result of this is that it will be necessary for you to make sure that you have learned the material well since you’ll need to be able to recall it effectively in the exams if you want a good grade.

You have to sort yourself out

There will be a lot less hand-holding when you are in college. This means that it will be necessary for you to keep track of your schedule yourself and to cook, clean and do your own washing.

This will mean that it will require more effort on your part to ensure that everything goes smoothly. This is not like it would normally be in high school where your teachers will generally be reminding you a lot about up coming assignments and tests and your parents will likely be doing the cooking and cleaning etc.

In college, the professors will normally give you a schedule for the semester at the start of the semester and they won’t always remind you of upcoming exams during the semester. It will generally be expected of you that you will keep track of the schedule yourself.

You’ll need to manage your time more effectively

In college, you will normally be taking four or five classes per semester. Each of the classes will have exams, assignments and homework that you will need to keep track of.

You’re probably taking more classes than that right now in high school. However, since the classes will also be more demanding and you will need to be looking after yourself a lot more it means that you will need to manage your time a lot more than you would in high school.

This means that you will not have as much free time as you would normally have in high school.

Often, poor time management is what trips up students that do poorly in college. Many of them will not take the time, at the start of the semester, to plan their schedule out and it results in them going into tests unprepared, needing to cram information in at the last minute and missing out on assignments.

This is why it will be crucial for you to make sure to take the time to plan out your semester and to plan out your study schedule at the start of the semester. It is also why it would help to start getting into good study habits while you are still in high school.

Tests will have a higher weighting

In high school, homework and attendance will often have quite a high weighting on the final grade. This is not usually the case in college. Normally, in college, homework will make up around 15% of the grade and the rest will be placed on the midterm exams and the final.

This means that it will be necessary for you to take more time to ensure that you have properly learned the material. Otherwise, you might not be able to recall the information when you are taking the exams and this could have a big impact on your final grade.

Normally, final exams will have the highest weighting of all of the exams and they will often cover everything that you were taught during the whole semester.

Also, you’ll likely be taking your final exams in the same week for all of your classes. This means that the final few weeks of the semester will usually be quite demanding since you’ll need to be revising the material for all of your classes.

You will likely be able to reduce how stressful the finals are by ensuring that you do well during the semester and ensuring that you study the material consistently throughout the semester.

You’ll likely be more interested in the classes you take

Even though the classes, in college, will likely be more difficult than in high school it will likely be easier for you to motivate yourself to study them.

The reason for this is that you will likely be taking classes that you have more interest in. This is because you get to choose the major and what classes you take in college. There will be some classes that you must take as required by your major but many of them will be up to you.

As a result of this, you should also be able to study more effectively since it will be easier for you to stay focused on material that you are more interested in.

There are fewer classes

The number of classes that you take in college will likely be less than the number of classes that you take in high school.

Normally, you will take four or five classes in a semester in college. In a normal college semester, you can expect to have about three hours of in-class time per class so you will likely have between twelve and fifteen hours of class time per week. This will likely be a lot less than you would normally have in high school.

You can schedule your classes to be at a time that suits you assuming that there are multiple offerings of the same class available. This means that you can pick classes to start in the afternoon if you don’t like morning classes, you can block them to all be together and possibly have a day off or you could spread them out more.

The lessons will go more smoothly

Another way that college can actually be easier than high school is that the classes will usually be more productive.

This is because they will usually be taught by professors that are experts on the topic who should be able to teach the more difficult material in an easier to understand way. The other students will also want to be there and it will be rare for classes to be disrupted, in college, due to disruptive students.

There will be more support

There should also be more resources available to you when you are in college.

The teachers will usually have office hours where you can go and get help from them. This should help you to learn the more difficult parts of the material that you are having an issue with.

In STEM subjects there will also usually be teaching assistants that you can make use of to get extra help from on the parts that you are struggling with. The teaching assistants are usually graduate students and they will normally have a good understanding of the parts of the material that you might be getting stuck on.

The college will also likely have more resources that you can use in the form of a bigger library,

Consider the type of major

How hard college will be for you compared to high school will largely depend on the major that you choose.

Generally, majors in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field will be more difficult than other majors. This is because the classes are often more demanding, they often have a lot of homework and you will usually have recitation lectures with the teaching assistants in addition to regular classes with the professor.

However, the payoff, if you do decide on studying one of the stem subjects, is that they will usually give you the best job prospects upon graduating and they can be very rewarding degrees.

Consider the college

The college that you go to will also influence how much more difficult it is compared to high school.

If you get into a more selective college with tougher entry requirements then you will likely find that the classes taught there will be more demanding than at less selective universities.

However, the pay off in getting into a more selective college or university will be that you will have better job prospects, more resources available to you, the professors will likely be world leaders in their field and they usually have very good financial aid packages.

It depends on what year you are in

Another thing that will impact the difficulty of the classes in college will be the year that you are in.

Generally, the classes that you take in your freshman year will be a lot easier than the classes that you take in the subsequent years.

As a result of this, it would be worthwhile for you to try to get a good GPA in your freshman year and to get into good study habits since it will help a lot later on in college.

It will also depend largely on the professor that you have

The same class, in college, can vary greatly in difficulty depending on the professor that is teaching it.

Some professors will tell you what material you should know for the exams and might even give you a study guide or previous exams to look at. While other professors might expect you to know everything from the class textbook up to that point.

You can use the website https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ to see what other students have said about the professors.

It will also help to plan ahead

Planning ahead will likely help you a lot in reducing how difficult college is for you.

Here are some ways that you can reduce the difficulty of college by planning a head.

  • Use https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ to pick professors that seem suitable for you.
  • Make sure to pick your classes as soon as registration opens so that you can get into the ones that you want before they become full.
  • Pick classes that fit into your schedule
  • Take the time, at the start of the semester, to plan out when your exams and assignments will be so that you can foresee any difficulties in advance and avoid last minute cramming.
  • Look at your major requirements and try to fit your schedule so that you are not taking all of the difficult classes at the same time.

Use your time in high school as an opportunity to get into good study habits

If you take the time to get into good study habits now, while you are in high school, you will be able to better prepare yourself for college and your transition into college will go much more smoothly.

It would also help to get into good study habits now since it will help you to get better grades which will help you to get into more selective colleges and qualify for more financial aid.


I created and currently manage College Corner. I received a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My goal is to help current students do better in college and to help future students plan for college. You can read more about me and my website here.