It doesn’t matter if you’re at the top of your high school class or you’re somewhere in the middle of the pack. You’ve heard college isn’t going to be easy. But could it really be that hard? Find out how college and high school compare, and learn how tough college actually is.

Are College Courses Easier Than High School Classes?

If you took advanced placement or honors courses in high school, you’ve already passed challenging classes with flying colors. College classes have to be easier, right?

Here’s the thing: College classes usually require much more high-level reading, in-depth discussions, and academic writing. Because you get to choose the courses that interest you in college, they might seem much easier than your high school classes were.

Is It Harder to Make Friends in College?

Making friends is easy in high school. If you’re like most high school students, you either hang out with the same crew you’ve known since forever, or you make new friends naturally through sports teams and after-school activities.

The thought of starting over and making new friends in college can be intimidating. Fortunately, everyone has to make a new set of friends in college, so meeting people couldn’t be easier. Whether you become BFFs with your college roommates, your orientation crew, or your study buddies, you’ll find the perfect group in no time.

Do You Have More Responsibilities in College?

In high school, you might juggle a full slate of classes with an after-school job, a few activities, and all the socializing you can squeeze in. When you’re in college, you’ll probably have a similar number of things to juggle.

But once you move on to college, you won’t have your parents to set rules or your teachers to make sure you turn in assignments on time. That means it’s your responsibility to handle everything. Not sure if you can handle it? Your advisors, roommates, and new friends will all be there to help.

Is It Impossible to Stand Out in College?

If you attend a small school or if you’re at the top of your class, you know it’s easy to stand out and succeed in high school. In college, it doesn’t matter if you go to a huge state school or a private university. Being a star is much harder, since you’ll typically have much more competition.

Don’t consider the extra competition a downside, though. Surrounding yourself with other overachievers can help you find like-minded friends who push you to be your best.

Is It Tougher to Join Extracurricular Activities in College?

If you’re used to being the star soccer player or the first chair in your school’s orchestra, you might be worried that more competition in high school could make it too tough to join your favorite activities. While being number one will be harder, there’s a definite upside to extracurricular activities in college.

You’ll find many activities to choose from in college. Whether you’re into arts and music, languages and culture, or sports and working out, you’ll discover that it’s easier than ever to find an extracurricular with your name on it.

Making the transition from high school to college can be challenging for anyone. However, with the right mindset, you’ll settle right in and make college the best years of your life.

You’re young and probably healthy, but good medical care is important at any age. Health insurance makes sure you can get it without blowing your budget. Consider the following coverage options for your college years.

Stay On Your Parents’ Policy

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) lets students under 26 stay on their parents’ private or employer-funded health insurance policy. They should contact their insurer to arrange this. It’s the most affordable option for your medical coverage, but there are some limitations worth considering.

Health care policies are usually location-specific. If you’re studying out of state, finding participating health care providers may be difficult. You could schedule routine checkups for school vacations, but what would you do if emergencies arise? Sharing a plan with your parents could also compromise your privacy. Your parents will know what medical services you seek when they receive the explanation of benefits. Make sure you are comfortable with this.

Enroll in a Student Health Insurance Plan

Many colleges have student health insurance plans. These can be a great option if you’re a full-time student studying out of state, estranged from your parents, too old for coverage under their policy, or you’re concerned about your privacy. You can use your financial aid or student loans for these plans to avoid stretching your budget, although they can be more expensive than similar policies purchased through the health insurance exchange. You also won’t get government tax credits.

Read the policy carefully so you know what you’re covered for and when you’re covered. Some plans don’t meet the ACA’s minimum standards. This won’t concern some students with minimal health care needs but could impact others. Some plans only cover full-time students during the school year, leaving them exposed during the summer break.

While some schools require students to register for student health insurance plans, others sign them up automatically. If you don’t want or need the plan, you’ll need to prove you have adequate health coverage and sign a waiver. Check what your school does to make sure you’re only paying for the policy you want.

Buy a Regular Health Insurance Policy

Buying a regular health insurance policy through the ACA marketplace is another option worth considering. This will give you the most control over your health care coverage and privacy, although it will usually cost you more out of pocket. Note though that you can’t get your own individual plan if you could be covered by your parents’. If you’d like your own health insurance plan, visit or your state’s health insurance marketplace website.

Get Medicaid

Students earning up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and living in an eligible state qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid covers care at selected health care providers without any premiums. With little to no copays, depending on the provider and service, Medicaid helps students get health care on a budget. If you’re eligible, you can apply via or your state’s health insurance marketplace website.

No matter what you choose, make sure you don’t neglect health insurance during your college years. Comprehensive medical coverage will make sure you get the health care you need for less while you’re studying.

Around 37 percent of Americans attaining a bachelor’s degree will attend grad school and earn an advanced degree. With more Americans earning degrees than ever before, earning a master’s doctorate or another professional degree can give you a competitive edge over your peers. Tick the following things off your checklist as you prepare for grad school.

Organize Your Paperwork

The first day of grad school is not the time to discover important documents are missing or incomplete. Sort them out now for your peace of mind. Ensure your grad school has your completed student and financial aid forms. Sign and return any loan agreement or scholarship forms. If possible, establish your student account at the bursar’s office and make an early tuition payment. See your academic adviser and check whether there’s anything else you have overlooked. Knowing all these things are in order will help you feel more confident as the first semester approaches.

Research Your Curriculum and Professors

Some early research can also make grad school seem less intimidating. Browse through your syllabi and purchase the textbooks you’ll need. Familiarizing yourself with these books early will help you feel more confident about your advanced studies. Most schools publish student evaluations of professors and courses. These reports can help you make smarter decisions about your electives. Contact your admissions officer if you can’t find them.

Find Somewhere to Stay

While it might seem like an obvious item for your checklist, it’s one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some graduate schools don’t have student housing. Some students feel their days of dorm living should be well behind them. Consider what you want and what you can afford. If your budget is tight, start your roommate search now.

Get a Job

If you’re not already working, you should be. A job will help you afford everything from your grad school accommodation to your textbooks. It will also prepare you for your career ahead by teaching you how to problem solve, work with others as part of a team, deliver good customer service, and more.

While jobs in your field, including internships, are advantageous, any work experience looks good on your resume, so don’t be afraid to look outside the box. Working as a summer camp counselor or bussing tables at a local restaurant is still beneficial. If your job is near your grad school, see whether you can still work part-time hours during the semester. Otherwise, a summer job might suit you best.

Set Clear, Achievable Goals

Too many students dive into grad school simply because they aren’t sure what else to do. Rather than traveling aimlessly through your education, setting clear and achievable goals should be part of your grad school preparation. This process will help give you purpose, focus your energy where it’s required, improve your motivation, and more.

Why are you attending grad school, what do you hope to achieve during your studies, and where do you want to end up after graduation? Answering these questions will help you set clear goals.

Preparing for grad school can be daunting, but methodically working through a checklist can help you transition from college with confidence.

Studying abroad offers an unparalleled opportunity to broaden your horizons. If you want to refine your foreign language skills, there’s no better way than immersing yourself in it. Between 2010 and 2015, the demand for bilingual workers in the U.S. more than doubled. Improve employability while nibbling pastries in Paris or gliding on a gondola in Venice? Yes, please! Find out how to squeeze the absolute best from your study abroad program so you can enjoy all the perks this experience has to offer.

Keep a Budget

Participation in a study abroad program can come with a hefty price tag. In addition to your tuition and administrative fees, you may also have expenses associated with textbooks, school supplies, and other materials. It’s important that you take your regular living expenses into account as well. Make sure you understand what’s included as far as meals, laundry facilities, and accommodations.

Once the basics are taken care of, you’ll want to have some extra funds on hand to truly enjoy the culture and country. This could include money for transportation, dining out, attractions, and souvenirs. Plan carefully so your budget will last for the duration of your stay.

Befriend the Locals

It’s easy to fall into step with the other American students studying abroad with you, but you should make an effort to expand your social circle. You’re missing out on an incredible opportunity if you don’t make some local connections during your stay. If you’re living with a host family, they might be able to introduce you to students in your age range. Your study abroad program may offer some opportunities to make new friends through excursions and other activities. You may have to step outside your comfort zone, but it’s well worth the effort.

Enjoy the Cultural Flavor

When you’re participating in a study abroad program, the goal is to experience the country like a local, not a tourist. Don’t restrict yourself to well-known highlights and Americanized restaurants. Veer away from the familiar, and find out what residents like to do in their free time. Ask your host family about little-known adventures in the area. Seek out the small, family-owned restaurants and attractions that tourists rarely find. There you’ll experience the true flavor of the country.

Take Side Trips

In many destinations, you have the unique opportunity to visit multiple countries with only a few hours of travel time. You can travel Europe easily by bus, train, or car. Budget airlines are an option as well if you’re covering longer distances. Compare the price of a plane ticket between London and Paris to the expense of traveling all the way from the U.S. to France, and you’ll see why this is such an opportune time to maximize your travels. Plan exciting excursions on the weekends, or extend your trip a few weeks beyond the conclusion of your study program.

Studying abroad is a valuable experience that belongs on every college student’s bucket list. With proper planning, you can make the most of your journey and enjoy memories that will last a lifetime.