College vs. High School: What You Should Expect

As summer is coming to a close, the time for high school seniors to head off to college is right around the corner.  This is both an exciting and stressful time for parents and students.  A lot of the stress experienced by students is related to not knowing what to expect.

In this post, I’ll discuss some of the major differences between high school and college. Hopefully this will help high school seniors feel more at ease about making the transition to college.

1. Independence

The freedom to do whatever, whenever often catches a lot of college freshman off guard.  As a college student, you’ll be expected (not asked) to keep up with your classes and complete your homework assignments.

If you miss class or don’t turn in a homework assignment, your professor won’t be calling your parents or trying to track you down.  You’re officially an adult now, so it is expected that you will be responsible.  You’ll also notice that most students are serious about their studies; after all…college is expensive.

2. Class Format

Most college courses are large; much larger than high school courses.  This is usually an adjustment for first year college students.  The bigger your class is, the less interactive it will be.  Small classes usually include a combination of lecture and group discussions/activities, while the large classes usually only rely on just lecture.

3.  Homework & Other Class Assignments

There will be significantly more homework and class assignments in college then there was in high school.  You’ll have to read a lot more, write lots of papers, and study for lots of quizzes and exams.  As a rule of thumb, for every hour you spend in class, you should expect to spend two hours outside of class on homework and studying in order to keep up with the work load.

4. Professors & Teaching Assistants

Your college professors will assume that you understand the material unless you ask questions during class or visit them during their assigned office hours, whereas your high school teachers may have put in extra effort to check in with you and make sure you are grasping the material.  This is often another big adjustment for first year college students.  It will be your responsibility to take ownership of your education and make sure that you’re getting the most out of every class.

I hope these tips were helpful! Good luck…you’ll be on campus in no time.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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