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High School vs. College

Want to make a smooth transition from high school to college? Differences between high school and college include areas like personal freedom, classes, teachers, studying, and tests.

Personal Freedom

High School: Classes are planned for you.
College: You choose your classes and make your schedule.

High School: You attend classes with students your own age.
College: You attend classes with a great diversity of students (ages and cultures).

High School: You have much less personal freedom and responsibility.
College: You are responsible for scheduling your time.


High School: You are given textbooks at little or no expense.
College: Textbooks and supplies cost at least $300 per semester (or more, if you take a specialty class).


High School: Teachers check your homework.
College: Teachers assume you can perform homework tasks for tests.

High School: Teachers remind you of late work.
College: Teachers may not remind you of late work – it's up to you to keep track of your work.

High School: Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance.
College: Teachers are willing to help if you need assistance, but you must seek them out.

High School: Teachers provide you with information you missed in a class.
College: Teachers expect you to get notes from missed classes and catch up before the next class.

High School: Teachers tell you what is important.
College: Teachers expect you to think about and synthesize seemingly unrelated topics.

High School: Teachers don't provide a detailed class outline such as a syllabus.
College: Teachers expect you to read, understand, save and consult your syllabus.


High School: Studying may take as little as 0 to 2 hours outside class for each hour in class (mainly pre-test preparation).
College: Studying may take 2 or 3 hours outside class for each hour in class.

High School: Teachers tell the class what is important and what to learn from assignments.
College: Teachers assign substantial amounts of reading/writing which (even if not covered in class) you may responsible for on tests.


High School: Makeup tests may be available.
College: Makeup tests are seldom an option; you need to request them when they are available.

High School: Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of information.
College: Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material.

High School: Success is shown by repeating on the test what you heard in lecture.
College: Success is shown by the ability to apply and adapt what you have learned to a new situation or to solve new problems.

High School: Tests often rely on recalling facts.
College: Teachers expect demonstrations of new knowledge, not just memorization.


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