Difference between High School and College

Key Difference: High School is an institution that typically offers the second part of the children’s basic education. Following high school and secondary school, some people may choose attend college, which further specialized education based on the degree or course that the student has chosen to study.

High School and College are two different types of institutions that provide education. These terms are commonly used in the US and in US English, but in the concept is the same as in UK English.

A person’s schooling is generally divided in different sections, starting with elementary or primary school, then middle school, and secondary school/high school. This is the basic level of education that is expected of most people in the western world. Of course there are still people in third world countries that who do not have access to basic education.

Following high school and secondary school, some people may choose to or be required to study further. They do so in colleges and universities. High schools focus on basic education which according to educators, each and every person to know. Colleges, on the other hand, focus on specialized education based on the degree or course that the student has chosen to study. In some countries, students can even choose the class they take and which professor they want to teach them.

While the term often refers to an institution that provides higher education, the term, college, may at times be used to refer to an elite and/or private secondary school, such as Eton College. However, this often only happens in Britain.

In terms of culture and etiquette, high school is usually strict with more rules. However, this may of course differ from region to region, or on the type of high school in question. For example: a private high school is generally stricter than a public high school. A college, by comparison, is generally less strict but harder than a high school. The primary reason for this is the fact that college has more advanced education, but also because college is not compulsory, which means that you must want to be there and have an interest in leaning. Also, because by the time you enter college, you are generally considered to be an adult, hence it is expected that you would know how to conduct yourself and need less supervision.

Comparison between High School and College:

 

High School

College

Definition (Oxford Dictionaries)

A secondary school.

(in the UK except Scotland) used chiefly in names of grammar schools or independent fee-paying secondary schools, or for the lower years of a secondary school.

An educational institution or establishment, in particular.

One providing higher education or specialized professional or vocational training.

(in Britain) any of the independent institutions into which certain universities are separated, each having its own teaching staff, students, and buildings.

Description

An institution that typically offers the second part of the children’s basic education.

An institution that typically offers higher education by way of providing certificated and degrees.

Offers

Basic minimum education

Higher education or specialized education and training

After

Primary School or Middle School

High School

Before

College

Post-Graduation

Compulsory

In many western countries, children are required by law to complete at least high school level education

College is not compulsory by law.

Career

Almost all careers require that you have at least a high school degree as minimum.

Most white collar jobs require that you have at least some college level education and even a degree from college.

Cost

Usually free or minimum cost

Usually expensive. Cost may be covered by government in some countries

Course

Structured and decided by the educators

Less structured. Students can decide what they want to study, which classes they want to take, and times which professors they want to study under.

Semesters

The school year is usually year round excepting for summer vacation. The classes may last the whole year, or be divided into 2 semesters.

The school year is typically divided in to two semesters. Some colleges follow the structure of two long semesters with two short semesters in between.

Degree

A High School Diploma is usually awarded upon completion.

An Associate’s Degree (2 year courses) or a Bachelor’s Degree (4 year courses) is awarded upon successful completion. Students can even enroll for a Master’s Degree after getting their Bachelor’s.

Reference:  Oxford Dictionaries (High School and College), SMU, Study in the USA
Image Courtesy: wlac.edu, psu.edu

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