The Differences Between High School and College



·         Public high school education is mandatory and free.
·         The days and times you attend class are structured by others.
·         You can depend on your parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities and to help you with organizing your priorities.
·         Guiding principle: You will usually be told what your responsibilities are and corrected if your behavior is out of line.


  •           College is voluntary and expensive.
  •           You manage your own time.
  •            You will be faced with a lot decisions you have never faced before, and will need to decide for yourself what is right.  You will balance responsibilities and set priorities on your own.
  •         Guiding principle: You’re old enough to take responsibility for   what you do and for the consequences of your actions.





·         Teachers check to see if you have completed your homework.
·         Teachers remind you of missing work.
·         Teachers offer help when they see you struggling.
·         Teachers are available for conversation and tutoring most every day.
·         Teachers have been trained in teaching methods that help all students learn.
·         Teachers provide you with information missed when you were absent.
·         Teachers’ lessons help you understand the textbook.
·         Teachers often write information on the board for you to copy into your notes.
·         Teachers not only give you information and facts, but lead you through the thinking process.
·         Teachers take the time to remind you of assignments and due dates.
  •         Professors may not check your homework, but expect you to know how to perform those tasks on exams.
  •        Professors may not remind you of missing work.
  •        Professors are usually open and helpful, but expect you to contact them if you are struggling.
  •        Professors have set office hours in which you can meet with them.
  •        Professors are experts in their field of study, not in teaching methods.
  •        Professors expect you to get information missed when you were absent from your classmates.
  •        Professors may not follow the textbook, but will expect you to read it and know the information for assignments and exams.
  •        Instructors may lecture non-stop and expect you to identify important information and take notes.
  •        Professors expect you to think about and synthesize what you are learning.
  •        Professors expect you to have read the syllabus and know when assignments are due and the days of exams.



·         You may study as little as 0-2 hours a week, and mainly for test preparation.
·         You often only need to read text or hear presentations once to learn all you need to know about them.
·         You are expected to read short assignments, which are then discussed and re-taught in class.
·         Guiding Principle: You will usually be told in class what you need to learn from each assignment.
  •        You need to study at least 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class.
  •        You need to review class notes and text materials every day.
  •        You are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which might not be addressed in class.
  •        Guiding Principle: It’s up to you to read and understand assigned materials, and be ready to use that material on your exams.





·         Tests occur often and cover small amounts of material.
·         Makeup tests are often available.
·         Teachers may rearrange test dates depending on school events.
·         Teachers review materials with students before tests.
·         Student mastery of material is shown by being able to repeat the skills/solve the problems you were taught in class.
  •        Tests are infrequent, sometimes only once or twice a semester, and cover massive amounts of material.
  •        Makeup tests are seldom an option.
  •        Professors schedule exams without regard to the demands of other classes or outside activities.
  •        Professors rarely offer review sessions and when they do, they expect you to participate fully and come prepared with questions.
  •        Student mastery is shown by being able to apply what you have learned through real life problems and to solve new kinds of problems.





·         Grades are given for most assigned work.
·         Homework/classwork grades may help raise your overall grade when test grades are low.
·         Extra credit is often available to help you raise your grade.
·         Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not adversely affect your final grade.
·         Guiding Principle: “Effort counts.”  Grades are usually structured to reward a “good-faith effort.”
  •        Grades may not be given for all assigned work.
  •        Grades on tests and projects usually provide most of the course grade.
  •        Extra credit is not generally used at the college level.
  •      First exams can often be a wake up call to let you know what is expected, but can also count for a large portion of your course grade.  Many courses require a “C” or better to pass.
  •         Guiding Principle: “Results count.”  Though professors are more willing to help you if you have made a good effort, it is not a substitute for results in the grading process.




Adapted from                                                                                                                                                           Christine Kesling 01/2017