1. Making your own schedule means you can sleep when you want, eat Ramen and Pop-Tarts whenever your heart desires, and still get your work done (around 3 a.m., but that's okay). But when you get a big-girl job, you have to get up every morning at 7 to make it to the office on time and work all day, without Pop-Tart breaks—the horror. You feel old and grouchy but mostly tired.
2. Jumping from major to major or internship to internship is easy, but being a career-hopper isn't. In college, you can pull a 180 and change your mind with the snap of a finger. Hated your PR internship last summer? No problem, try one in government affairs! Your sociology classes are a snoozefest? Switch to French literature! But once you're out in the real world, changing direction takes a lot more legwork. Sure, you can go from working in marketing to working in finance, but you might have to be willing to sit with the interns in the cafeteria again (and take a pay cut).
3. In college, you get A's — hopefully. At work, you get feedback — maybe. School tells you that you are smart and successful by a letter grade. If you memorize a textbook well, and learn exclusively for the exam, then your college recognizes that you are on the fast track to success—and your parents can hang an honor-roll certificate on their fridge. When you turn in an assignment to your boss at work, you might get a "good job," but you most likely won't get any response at all. It's your job. Your validation is your paycheck.
4. Skipping class is easy; skipping work is a bad idea. In college, missing a class or two (or most of the semester) is not that big of a deal as long as you can get the professor's notes from a friend and you splurge on a textbook. Maybe you won't get an A, but you'll have a solid B and you can sleep until 2 p.m. instead of having to get up at noon—worth it. If you call out last minute too often, you definitely won't get a promotion, and you may get fired.
5. Winter break and spring break and summer break! You are done with the semester and have absolutely nothing to worry about or hold on to in the back of your mind. Well, maybe a summer internship, but you are not getting graded or paid, and the kitchen has free snacks. When you get a job, there are no breaks. You go from one assignment to the next, with the same goal in mind each time. The workload never ends—but thankfully, the keg stands and frat parties do. The good news is you'll really appreciate those vacation and personal days.
6. Doing taxes and other grown-up things. The most useful things colleges should teach are, (a) how to file taxes and (b) what the actual eff a 401(k) is. Instead, your choices aren't personal finance classes at all — how many liberal arts electives does one college student need to take to graduate? Becoming financially independent is scary (but doable!).
Image via Getty