High School vs. College Differences

There are numerous differences you will find between high school and college, and if you are aware of some of them before you start school, the transition could be a little easier.

The table below lists some of the differences identified by students, staff and faculty from around the country.

It isn't an exhaustive list, as each individual has different experiences, but they do point out some common things everyone experiences.

High School is mandatory and usually free. College is voluntary and expensive.
Your time is structured by others. You manage your own time.
Teacher-student contact is closer and more frequent. Instructor-student contact is less frequent (1-3 times per week).
Most of your classes are already selected for you. You pick your own schedule in consultation with an advisor.
You attend class an entire day. Your schedule looks light, with sometimes only 1 or 2 classes per day.
Homework outside of class is expected to only take you about a half-hour to hour to complete. You are expected to spend up to 3 hours outside of class preparing for class and working on assignments for the class.
You are usually told what to do and corrected if the behavior is out of line. You are expected to take responsibility for what you do and don't do, as well as face the consequences of your decisions.
You rarely need to read anything more than once, and sometimes listening in class is enough. You need to review class notes and text material regularly.
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 class.
Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance. Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.
Teachers are often available for conversation before, during or after class. Professors expect and want you to attend their scheduled office hours.
Teachers provide you with information you missed when you were absent. Professors expect you to get notes you missed from your classmates, not them.
Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates. They usually give you time to work on assignments in class. Professors expect you to follow the syllabus and be responsible for turning your work in on time with very little reminding. It is rare if you get time in class to work on assignments.
Teachers carefully monitor class attendance, tardiness, etc. Professors may not formally address attendance or tardiness, but they are still likely to know and it can account for grade differences, as they take it as a sign of your commitment to their class.
Teachers often write information on the board to be copied into your notes, or tell you what is important to know for a test. Professors may lecture non-stop, expecting you to identify what is important or relevant. When professors write on the board it is to add to the lecture, not summarize it.
There are often many other assignments to make up grades; grades do not simply rely on tests over subject material. Testing is infrequent, it covers a lot of material and makes up of a large portion of your grade. A course may only have 2 or 3 tests a semester.
Make up tests are often available. Make up tests are rarely available and you need to request them if they are an option.
Teachers will rearrange test dates to avoid conflicts with other classes or school events. Professors in different courses usually schedule tests without regard to the demands of other classes or outside activities.
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.
Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not have an adverse effect on your final grade. Watch out for your FIRST tests. These usually serve as an indicator to let you know what is expected, but they also may account for a substantial part of your course grade.
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 C average.