The People You'll Meet In College

Almost 46 percent of surveyed Get Schooled college students told us they were surprised by “how different the kids at college were from my high school classmates.”

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For most students, going away to college is the first time they will encounter a significant number of people who have life experiences different than their own. College campuses are a mix of cultures, nationalities, ages, political beliefs, religions, and interests. It can be a lot to take in at once. In fact, 46 percent of surveyed Get Schooled college students told us they were surprised by “how different the kids at college were from my high school classmates.” We want to give you a crash course in what you can expect from the diversity waiting for you on your college campus!

Where are you from?
Until this point, you might not have gone to school with students from another country. Most colleges and universities boast having international students from every single continent in the world. And it’s not just the students who claim international roots. Your professors and instructors can also be from a country other than America. Interacting with students and faculty from another country is a great way for you to expand your knowledge of the world and learn about life, customs, and culture in another country from someone with first-hand experience.

Age ain’t nothing but a number
Although the vast majority of new college students are recent high school graduates, the student body of your average college includes traditional and non-traditional students. Non-traditional students are typically older students who might have delayed going to college post high school, are returning to college after some time off, or have previously graduated college but want to learn new skills or change careers. That means you can have a class with students your age, your parent’s age, or even your grandparent’s age! This kind of multi-generational learning experience can help everyone.

Politics and school do mix
In the United States, you earn the right to vote once you turn 18-years-old. That means, college is usually the first time you’re able to participate in the political process. Many students begin developing their political views while in college. Just as you are exploring what you believe and how government factors into those beliefs, you’ll encounter other students doing the same. Sometimes those beliefs might match your own, and other times they won’t match. Being exposed to ideas that differ from your own is another way to expand your worldview an become and informed citizen.

Do it for the culture
Even when you go to school with students from your same city, state, or country, you will experience a mix of cultures on your college campus. Culture is defined as the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or social group. If you think about your own city, you can probably identify a few cultures represented based on ethnicity, religion, economic status, and even neighborhood. Getting to know people from different cultures helps you develop empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Difference is not a bad thing. In fact, our diversity can make for more enriching experiences in life. As you make the transition from high school to college, be open to getting to know people who aren’t like your high school classmates. Make new friends, have new experiences, and enjoy all that a diverse college has to offer.