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High School and College Compare and Contrast Essay: Basic Tips

Graduation Hat

The first reaction to the topic like this is something like: “Everyone knows that they are just different and that’s it!” However, one sentence is not enough to cover the topic for any paper, not speaking of the college compare or contrast essay. So, what should be included in any of these types of essay and what is the best way to organize the paragraphs in them?

Comparison and Contrast Essay Main Features

As you can tell from the name of the type of essay itself, what you should do is compare something and then note what the essay requires. The comparison essay is expected to have both similarities and differences in it, while contrast essay should only be concentrated on the differences between the compared objects, processes or people. You can aim at one of the following while working on comparison or contrast essay:

  • Show that one object is better than the other;
  • Reveal a new, fresh point of view while comparing the objects;
  • Bring both of the objects or the one that you think was paid less attention to into a sharper focus;
  • Clarify what you consider to be misunderstood or not understood well enough.

Another tip is to compare the same points for both of the subjects if possible, as this will help you to give the even development to your point of view and will not mislead the reader. However, when it comes to differences, it might be tricky since, for example, college can give you the opportunities high school life does not offer. In this case it will be better to mention it as a special feature and indicate something high school life has what college life lacks to make it a fair comparison.

Methods of Writing

Pros and Cons List

There are two methods suitable for making your essay flow logically, and which one to choose depends on the aim of your essay. The first one is a point-by-point method, where you select one aspect and apply it to both of the subjects, in our case, to high school and college. The second one is to concentrate on only one subject first and on the second one later. In this case, the structure will look like this:

  • Introduction paragraph;
  • Advantages of high school (for a comparison essay) + transition sentence;
  • Disadvantages of high school + transition sentence;
  • Advantages of college (for a comparison essay) + transition sentence;
  • Disadvantages of college + transition sentence;
  • Conclusion paragraph.

Content of the Essay

Here comes the most interesting part: so what does one write about? What should be compared to cover the topic of the paper completely? Here are some ideas of the content you might want to include into your paper.

The Subjects and the Learning Process

First and foremost, high school and college are about education, so the studying process should catch most of your attention. High school is meant to give you the basic knowledge and introduce you to the different areas of study, so you know enough to find out which field you want to work in. College is already concentrated on the certain area, so you will not have to learn everything, but to understand it deeper.

The Level of Responsibility

While in high school teachers care if you are present in class, in college it is completely your responsibility to visit enough classes to get a passing grade. While in high school it is possible to hand your paper in later without losing points, you are responsible for meeting the deadline in college and will be penalized for not doing it. You are the one who has to deal with your problems, no phone calls to your parents like in high school anymore; you are expected to be able to take responsibility for your deeds.

The Lifestyle

Some cities have colleges students want to go to, some do not have them or do not have any. Therefore, it often happens that the students have to leave home and learn how to live on their own. New places, new people, new situations. It may be the freedom a student has been dreaming of or the nightmare of the dorm life they have been trying to avoid.

The Education Fees

College education turns out to be more expensive, so not all the families have enough money to pay the fees. Moreover, the student needs to get all the books mainly paying from their own pocket, have some money for their daily needs and transportation. All together, it gets much more pricy than high school, and the further the college is, the more likely is the sum to increase.

Personal Freedom

A lot of college students say they feel like they started being treated like adults after they went to college. They feel like they have more choices to make, more room for themselves, more people with similar interests around. All of this is vital for developing your personality, work on your planning and organization skills, as well as on your communication skills. They say it gets more about the person than about the group, like in high school. And yet, any experience is unique, and there certainly might be others who disagree. So, make sure to state your own point here and not just rewrite the thoughts of your older brother or your friend John.

Two People Talking

Conclusion Paragraph

It is better to not be personal in the paragraphs where you list your for and against arguments, but to keep your personality to the conclusion paragraph. Of course, it should be logical when it comes to the content and should be in correlation with all the main points in your essay. Read some examples if you need to find out how this can be done and which personal opinions can be listed in the last paragraph. After this, add some linking words and leave the paper to “rest” before proofreading it. That’s it, you’re done! 

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