High School vs. College: The Big Jump to Higher Education

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Difference between High School and College

High School and college are definitely two of the most important stages in a young person's life and they are essential elements to what will hopefully be a flourishing and rewarding career or vocation. Each of these stages in a person's educational life is distinct in itself, and just because high school comes before college doesn't make it any less important. In fact, many of the lessons that you learn in high school will be essential during your college years and later on in life. Let's take a look at the key characteristics of each.

High School


The prerequisite to entering high school is a diploma in primary education. The actual number of years of education doesn't usually matter, just as long as the student has graduated from a reputable institution.

As for college, the typical path involves a high school diploma as the main prerequisite to getting a collegiate education. Students will also be required to show proof of having passed the GED test, which grants a general education diploma. Students who have not finished high school but are of age and otherwise qualified to go to college may take the GED test and gain admittance to college. Various need and merit based scholarships are also offered for aspiring high school and college students by different organizations and institutions.

Course Coverage And Degrees

High school covers the typical general education courses such as science, math, social studies, communication, language and the like. Science and math may be further subdivided into specialized fields such as chemistry, geography, algebra, physics and the like. In addition, students may also have classes in a variety of non-academic subjects, including crafts, woodshop, and sports. Upon graduation, you will receive a high school diploma.

In college, you basically get to shape your education to some degree, since you will be given the choice of a number of subjects that will get you closer to a degree. There are still general education classes during the first years, but these will gradually give way to more specialized subject matters. College graduates will of course receive a college degree reflective of their course.

Social And Career Aspects

For many people, school is as much about the learning experience as it is about making friends and possibly contacts that you will benefit from later in life. Looking at it from this angle, it appears then that choosing the school that will be most advantageous to you is a decision worthy of careful consideration.

Similarities and Differences

High School

  • Focuses mostly on general education subjects with a smattering of non-academic subjects
  • Courses are basically decided for you
  • Prepares you for the eventual step into college
  • Successfully passing high school gets you a diploma that is a prerequisite to college admittance


  • Allows you more freedom to shape your educational path
  • Covers general education subjects in the early years
  • Focuses more on course-specific subjects later on
  • Invaluable for establishing contacts for later on in your career


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