Expectations vs Realities: Upper Secondary School vs College

What comes to mind when the word ‘college’ appears? Do you imagine receiving lots of party invites, freedom to do whatever you want and basically everything pictured in the movies? 

If so, you better buckle up, cause we’re about to bring you down to earth where reality hits…


Subject Options


You won’t have to study the subjects that you hate anymore especially since you’re studying the course of your dream!



Yes, you’ll definitely get to study the subjects of your most ardent interest. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have to study something you’re less keen about. In fact, there are compulsory subjects such as the General Studies subjects a.k.a. ‘Mata Pelajaran Umum’ (MPU) which includes Ethnic Relations, Islamic Civilisation and Asian Civilisation, and Malaysian Studies, just to name a few. 


Not only that, but each course also comes with core subjects which you can’t avoid taking in order to pass. For instance, if you think that you’ll never have to see mathematical equations with a course in Psychology, think again!


Fitting In


You have to look and act cool at all times with your college friends otherwise you’ll risk having no one to chill with.



While you should look presentable at all times in college, that doesn’t mean you’re only compelled to “look” a certain way in order to have friends. As you step into college, you’ll realise there is a whole world of people out there who are completely different from people you knew in school. 

This means that you don’t have to try to be someone you’re not, to fit in. With the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, you’re bound to find someone with similar interests as you. Besides, there’s (are) always clubs and societies where you can participate and meet like-minded people!




Well, well, well. The idea of meeting new people probably excites all of you, especially those who are eyeing to find their significant other in college. Now that there are more people, the world is your oyster!



Of course, you’re free to date or be in a relationship (with permission, obviously) in college. You’re likely to fall head over heels with someone. And isn’t it wonderful to be in the same class as your significant other — you’ll get to attend lectures, conduct projects together and have someone who’s got your back through the ups and downs that college life brings. Not to mention all the sweet memories you’ll have as you reflect your college days.

That said, you’ll want to think it through before jumping into a relationship. While life may be pink and rosy, don’t forget that things can always turn sour which could affect your college life tremendously. Instead, you could use this opportunity in college to bond and create lifelong friendships. After all, life is more than romantic relationships — true friendships are equally if not more important. 

Whatever you decide to do, choose wisely and don’t let any relationship get in the way of your GPA!


Dress Code


You’re probably already thinking about all the kewl outfits you’re going to wear especially on entrance day. You’ll finally get to wear whatever you want, just like how they do in the movies!



Hold up! Before you get too excited to parade your wardrobe in college, there’s still a dress code to adhere to, depending on the institution you choose. In fact, at major universities, you’ll have to keep your attire formal at all times. Shorts, slippers, and anything too revealing are definitely major no-nos.

And though you may abhor putting on your uniforms in school, you’ll begin to appreciate it once you realise how you never had to worry about what to wear back then!

Social Life


You can’t wait for all the wild party invites, late-night outings with your college friends, and basically paint the town red all night long!



It’s true. Your college experience will certainly be one of the most memorable times of your life. While it’s great to have a good time with your friends once in a while, that’s not all you should be thinking about.

Besides, when your assignments start piling up and you’ve got deadlines to meet every other day, you’ll be glad to even have a lunch break! 

Your time management skills will play a crucial part in how well you can juggle in between your studies for exams, assignments, group projects, and finally, your social life! 


Learning Materials


As in your secondary school, you’ll be spoon-fed with all the textbooks and information you need to pass your tests as long as you study them!



Nice try, but you won’t be getting all the answers straight from the textbook. It’ll take persistence, plenty of research, and skimming through multiple journals, books, and websites only to get a single sentence cited in your essay.

Talk about hard work! Of course, your faithful lecturers will always be willing to help you out if you need any, but you’ll need to ask.



Now that we’ve managed your expectations about college life, we sure hope you have a crystal clear picture of what life as a college student really entails. So, now it’s your turn to give your friend a reality check by passing on the message!