College vs. High School: What Students Should Expect

The move from high school to a college campus is exciting but can also feel a bit intimidating. To help students prepare for the change, here is a short list of some of the main differences they may encounter when entering college:


  1. Class size: The big difference that most students already know about is the difference in class sizes. Class sizes in high school are generally around 30 to 35 students, whereas a class or lecture in college can have more than 100 students.


  1. Homework: Another great shock in college is the large amount of homework that has to be done outside of the classroom. Many classes assign chapters of reading weekly and the majority of it is not discussed in class but is included on the tests. Many students will not realize that all of the reading is required at first, which can make succeeding in the first few terms of college a challenge.


  1. Grading: Depending on the class in college, grading can vary greatly. Usually, grading is a standardized process in high school and all graded papers are returned, however this is not always the case in college. Sometimes a student can go a whole term without seeing any of their grades on their assignments. In general, professors expect students to be proactive in keeping track of their own grades.


  1. Testing: In college, tests are far apart and cover a large amount of material, as opposed to high school where tests are more frequent. Additionally, many professors do not specify what points or topics to study for a test; they expect students to study all of the material.


  1. Technology in the classroom: One of the biggest and most exciting changes for students making the transition is the sense of freedom. Most professors allow laptops in class and cannot monitor the whole classroom for the use of other devices. It is up to the student to pay attention and take notes, especially when professors do not post lecture notes.


  1. Attending class: Another aspect of freedom that many students find themselves battling throughout college is attending class on a regular basis. Lives get busy and students believe that class is not always necessary. It is good for students to keep in mind that college is expensive and also voluntary. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure they are getting as much out of it as possible.


  1. Graduating on time: One of the most challenging aspects of graduating college as opposed to high school is graduating on time. Students have full control of the classes they want to take and what to major in. This is a great time to explore, but most students do not realize early on that they are responsible for keeping track of which classes they need to take to graduate. Campus advisors are a great tool and are available to help with a graduation plan, but the student needs to take the initiative to make the appointment.


  1. Time management: Students manage their own time. It is important for them to be smart and remember why they are attending college.