Differences Between High School and College

FOLLOWING RULES IN HIGH SCHOOL

  • High school is mandatory
  • Your time is structured by others.
  • You need permission to participate in extracurricular activities
  • You can count on parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities and to guide you in setting priorities.
  • Each day you proceed from one class directly to another, spending 6 hours each day--30 hours a week--in class.
  • Most of your classes are arranged for you.
  • You are not responsible for knowing what it takes to graduate.

Guiding principle: You will usually be told what to do and corrected if your behavior is out of line.

CHOOSING RESPONSIBLY IN COLLEGE

  • College is voluntary
  • You manage your own time.
  • You must decide whether to participate in co-curricular activities.
  • You must balance your responsibilities and set priorities. You will face moral and ethical decisions you have never faced before.
  • You often have hours between classes; class times vary throughout the day and evening and you spend only 12 to 16 hours each week in class
  • You arrange your own schedule in consultation with your advisor. Schedules tend to look lighter than they really are.
  • Graduation requirements are complex, and can differ from year to year. You are expected to know those that apply to you.

Guiding principle: You are expected to take responsibility for what you do and don't do, as well as for the consequences of your decisions.

GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL CLASSES

  • The school year is 36 weeks long; classes generally have no more than 35 students.
  • You may study outside class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation.
  • You seldom need to read anything more than once, and sometimes listening in class is enough.
  • You are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class.

Guiding principle: You will usually be told in class what you need to learn from assigned readings.

SUCCEEDING IN COLLEGE CLASSES

  • The academic year is divided into two separate 14-week semesters, plus a week after each semester for exams.
  • Classes may vary in size from 6- 30 students or more.
  • You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class.
  • You need to review class notes and text material regularly.
  • You are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class.

Guiding principle: It's up to you to read and understand the assigned material; lectures and assignments proceed from the assumption that you've already done so.

HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS

  • Teachers check your completed homework.
  • Teachers remind you of your incomplete work.
  • Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance.
  • Teachers are often available for conversation before, during, or after class.
  • Teachers provide you with information you missed when you were absent.
  • Teachers present material to help you understand the material in the textbook.
  • Teachers often write information on the board to be copied in your notes.
  • Teachers impart knowledge and facts, sometimes drawing direct connections and leading you through the thinking process.
  • Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates.
  • Teachers carefully monitor class attendance.

Guiding principle: High school is a teaching environment in which you acquire facts and skills.

COLLEGE PROFESSORS

  • Professors may not always check completed homework, but they will assume you can perform the same tasks on tests.
  • Professors may not remind you of incomplete work.
  • Professors expect and want you to attend their scheduled office hours.
  • Professors expect you to get from classmates any notes from classes you missed.
  • 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 what happens in classto the textbook readings.
  • 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 must.
  • Professors expect you to think about and synthesize seemingly unrelated topics.
  • Professors expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (class outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.
  • Professors may not formally take roll, but they are still likely to know whether or not you attended.

Guiding principle: College is a learning environment in which you take responsibility for thinking through and applying what you have learned.

TESTS IN HIGH SCHOOL

  • Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material.
  • Makeup tests are often available.
  • Teachers frequently rearrange test dates to avoid conflict with school events.
  • Teachers frequently conduct reviewsessions, pointing out important concepts.

Guiding principle: 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 solve.

TESTS IN COLLEGE

  • Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering 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 semester.
  • Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, you need to request them.
  • Professors in different courses usually schedule tests without regard to the demands of other courses or outside activities.
  • Professors rarely offer review sessions, and when they do, they expect you to be an active participant, one who comes prepared with questions.

Guiding principle: 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 are given for most assigned work.
  • Consistently good homework grades may raise your overall grade when test grades are low.
  • Extra credit projects are often available to help you raise your grade.
  • Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not have an adverse effect on your final grade.

Guiding principle: "Effort counts." Courses are usually structured to reward a "good-faith effort."

GRADES IN COLLEGE

  • Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
  • Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade.
  • Extra credit projects cannot, generally speaking, be used to raise a grade in a college course.
  • 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.

Guiding principle: "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.

IDENTIFYING AND CITING SOURCES IN HIGH SCHOOL ESSAYS

  • The type of sources used is less important than having them.
  • Using the exact words and phrasing of your sources is acceptable.
  • You are not required to use discipline specific citation styles.
  • Bibliographies are rarely required.
  • Maintaining sources for long-term use is rare.

Guiding Principle: High School teaches you to report on the research of others, not to be an active participant in investigating new knowledge.

IDENTIFYING AND CITING SOURCES IN COLLEGE RESEARCH PAPERS

  • You will be expected to know what sources are appropriate for each discipline and assignment.
  • Your papers should always reflect your own analysis and thinking. If you use the words of others, you should always indicate you are doing so through quotation marks.
  • You will be expected to learn and appropriately use discipline specific citation styles.
  • Bibliographies are the norm.
  • You will want to develop a personal reference library to facilitate on-going research interests.

Guiding Principle: Colleges are communities of scholarly inquiry where original knowledge and research is valued.

HIGH SCHOOL GUIDANCE COUNSELORS

  • It is their full time job to carefully monitor your progress on graduation requirements.
  • Will pick your classes for you each term.
  • Will seek you out to check on how you are doing.
  • Will inform your parents about your grades and your progress towards graduation.

Guiding Principle: Someone else is keeping track and will inform you of what you need to do.

COLLEGE ACADEMIC ADVISORS

  • Are faculty members with many other responsibilities?teaching, research, administration.
  • Make recommendations about class selection, but leave the final decision to you.
  • Are available to assist you with planning and making the most of your college career, but will expect you to initiate contact and take responsibility for your
  • decisions.
  • Are not permitted to speak with your parents about your academic life unless you sign a waiver. Advisors expect you to inform your parents about how you are doing.

Guiding Principle: You are responsible for your academic life and for seeking out the resources you need to be successful.

Adapted from materials developed by several other universities, including Southern Methodist, Ball State, State University of New York at New Paltz, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.