High School to College Comparison
|Going to High School Classes
||Succeeding in College Classes
|The school year is 36 weeks long and some
classes extend over both semesters.
|The academic year is divided into two separate
15-week semesters, plus a week after each
semester for exams.
|Classes generally have no more than 35 students.
||Classes at large universities may number 100
students or more.
|You may study outside class as little as 0-2 hours
a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test
|The recommendation is to study at least 2-3 hours
outside of class for each hour in class.
|You seldom need to read anything more than
once, and sometimes listening in class is enough.
|You need to review class notes and text material
|You are expected to read short assignments that
are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class.
|You are assigned substantial amounts of reading
and writing which may not be directly addressed in
|Bottom Line: Students are usually told in class
what they need to learn from assigned readings.
|Bottom Line: It's up to you to read and understand
the assigned material.
|High School Teachers
|Teachers check your completed homework.
||Professors may not always check completed
homework, but they will assume you can perform
the same tasks on tests.
|Teachers remind you if they believe you need
|Professors usually won't remind you of incomplete
|Teachers approach you if they believe you need
|Professors are usually open and helpful, but most
expect you to initiate contact if you need
|Teachers are often available for conversation
before, during, or after class.
|Professors expect and want you to attend their
scheduled office hours.
|Teachers have been trained in teaching methods
to assist in imparting knowledge to students.
|Professors have been trained as experts in their
particular areas of research.
|Teachers provide you with information you
missed when you were absent.
|Professors expect you to get from classmates any
notes from classes you missed.
|Teachers present material to help you
understand the material in the textbook.
|Professors may not follow the textbook. Instead, to
amplify the text, they may give illustrations, provide
background information, or discuss research
about the topic you are studying. Or they may
expect you to relate the classes to the textbook
|Teachers often write information on the board to
be copied in your notes.
|Professors may lecture nonstop, expecting you to
identify the important points in your notes. When
professors write on the board, it may be to amplify
the lecture, not to summarize it. Good notes are a
|Teachers impart knowledge and facts,
sometimes drawing direct connections and
leading you through the thinking process.
|Professors expect you to think about and
synthesize seemingly unrelated topics. They treat
you as an adult learner.
|Teachers often take time to remind you of
assignments and due dates.
|Professors expect you to read, save, and consult
the course syllabus; the syllabus spells out exactly
what is expected of you, when it is due, and how
you will be graded.
|Teachers carefully monitor class attendance.
||Professors usually won't take roll but expect you to
be in class.
|Bottom Line: High school is a teaching
environment in which you acquire facts and skills.
|Bottom Line: College is a learning environment in
which you take responsibility for thinking through
and applying what you have learned.
|Following the Rules in High School
||Choosing Responsibly in College
|High school is mandatory and usually free.
||College is voluntary and expensive.
|Your time is structured by others.
||You manage your own time.
|You need permission to participate in
|It's your choice now.
|Parents and teachers tend to remind you of your
assignments and to guide you in setting priorities.
|It's now time to keep track of your own life. You will
face moral and ethical decisions you have never
|You are not responsible for knowing what it takes
|Graduation requirements are complex, and differ
from year to year. You are expected to know what
applies to you.
|Most of your classes are arranged for you.
||You arrange your own schedule in consultation
with your adviser. Schedules tend to look lighter
than they really are.
|Each day you proceed from one class directly to
another, spending 6 hours each day--30 hours a
|You often have hours between classes; class
times vary throughout the day and evening. You
spend only 12-16 hours each week in class.
|Bottom Line: Parents and teachers usually tell
you what to do and correct you if your behavior is
out of line.
|Bottom Line: You take responsibility for what you
do and don't do, as well as for the consequences
of your decisions.
|Tests in High School
||Tests in College
|Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of
|Testing is infrequent and may cover large
amounts of material. You, not the professor, need
to organize the material to prepare for the test. A
particular course may have only 2 or 3 tests in a
|Makeup tests are often available.
||Makeup tests are seldom an option. If they are,
you need to request them.
|Teachers frequently rearrange test dates to avoid
conflict with school events.
|Professors usually schedule tests without regard
to the demands of other courses or outside
|Teachers frequently conduct review sessions,
pointing out the most important concepts.
|Professors rarely offer review sessions except for
|Bottom Line: Mastery is usually seen as the
ability to reproduce what you were taught in the
form in which it was presented to you, or to solve
the kinds of problems you were shown how to
|Bottom Line: Mastery is often seen as the ability
to apply what you've learned to new situations or to
solve new kinds of problems.
|Grades in High School
||Grades in College
|Grades are given for most assigned work.
||Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
|Consistently good homework grades may raise
your overall grade when test grades are low.
|Grades on tests and major papers usually provide
most of the course grade.
|Extra credit projects are often available to help
you raise your grade.
|Extra credit projects cannot, generally speaking, be
used to raise a grade in a college course.
|Initial test grades, especially when they are low,
may not have an adverse effect on your final
|Watch out for your first tests. These are usually
"wake-up calls" to let you know what is
expected--but they also may account for a
substantial part of your course grade. You may be
shocked when you get your grades.
|You may graduate as long as you have passed
all required courses with a grade of D or higher.
|You may graduate only if your average in classes
meets the departmental standard--typically a 2.0 or
|Bottom Line: Effort counts. Courses are usually
structured to reward a "good-faith effort."
|Bottom Line: Results count. Though "good-faith
effort" is important in regard to the professor's
willingness to help you achieve good results, it will
not substitute for results in the grading process.
Degrees of Achievement
The number of college degrees
expected to be awarded during
the 2009-10 school year:
Source: National Center for
|Ministry to Students
Michael J. Bozack, Ph.D.
Department of Physics
Auburn, AL 36849
Dropping Your College
pressures, difficulty forming
new friendships -- any of
these can cause college
freshmen to leap to the
conclusion that they've made
a bad college decision and
should transfer. Resist this
temptation; it is common for
many new college students,
particularly on large
See USA Today, Nov 12, 09,
p. 7D for a useful discussion
of the problems and
USA Losing Ground
In South Korea, 93% of all
students graduate from high
school on time, compared to
the USA, where one-quarter
of all students -- more than
1.2 million individuals each
year -- fail to graduate.
Once the world leader in
the US now ranks an
embarrassing 18th among
Source: Organization for
Economic Co-operation and
Getting Away With Poor
Nearly one in five college
seniors and 25% of
freshman say they frequently
come to class without
completing readings or
assignments, a national
Students report spending
about 3.5 hours a week
preparing for each class.
That's about half what
instructors expect from a
Source: National Survey of
Student Engagement, 2009.
The Value of Community
Community colleges educate
roughly HALF of all students.
Over the next decade, at least
57% of all job openings will
education but not necessarily
a four-year degree. Some of
the highest-demand workers
get their job training at
community colleges, including
half of new nurses.
While many private, four-year
colleges are seeing dips in
applicaitons, junior college
enrollments last fall rose by
Source: USA Today, Dec 29,
08, p. 10A.