Monday Tropes: High School and College are the Same

In a lot of the books I’ve read, the description of the college experience sounds an awful lot like the high school experience. In fact, if can sometimes leave you wondering if the writer has ever actually been to college. Whether it’s the class setup, the social groups, or just the way characters interact with each other, a lot of these can seem more reminiscent of a high school teenager than a young adult.

Why this is bad: It can depend on the type of college, really. I go to a very big university, so there’s a huge contrast between what it and high school have been like for me. While in high school, cliques didn’t really exist, they especially don’t exist in a college setting. Therefore, when I read something about the college experience and the social groups are just as bratty and exclusive as I would expect a fictional high schooler to be, it’s hard not to roll my eyes. However, I’ve noticed that this does exist to an extent at the much smaller schools some of my friends go to. Some people also don’t seem to have a grasp on how college schedules work. The majority of U.S. college scheduling varies widely from typical U.S. high school scheduling. There are many more options for college students, as well as flexibility, while high school students have a much more restricted choice (if any) in what classes they take. All in all, it can sometimes feel as if the writer doesn’t know much of anything about how colleges work or what the social spheres as really like, mainly portraying a bunch of immature drunkards rather than young adults.

How you can fix it: It’s a simple thing, really: research. If you haven’t been in college recently – even if you did go to college, only ten or more years ago – do some research into how it works. Go tour a campus, if you can. Read up on them online and talk to college students you know about their experiences. Universities have changed a lot over the years, so whether you’ve never gone to college, or did, only a long time ago, it’d be a smart idea to read up more what exactly you’re writing about just so you can give it more genuine quality.

Bottom Line: Do your research, especially on stuff you don’t know about.


Also, guys, I wanted to apologize for how late this post was today. I started my new job and moved into where I’ll be living for the next three months, so it’s been very hectic!

One comment on “Monday Tropes: High School and College are the Same

  1. In my experience, college and university stopped being a bastion of youth 40 years ago. That’s the last time I can remember attending classes that were composed of all under-22s. By 1980, at least half of the undergraduate attendees were 25 or older, and when I went to nursing school in 1990, there were only two in my cohort who were just out of high school. The rest of us who earned that Associate’s degree were mid-30s to mid-50s. When I finished a Bachelor’s degree in 1998, one of the people I graduated with was in her 80s. When I earned my Master’s in 2010, half of the people I’d attended classes with were 40s to 60s.

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