Wayne State University

Aim Higher

University Advising Center

College is Different from High School

Personal Freedom in High School Personal Freedom in College
Your time is usually structured by others. You manage your own time.
Guiding principle: You will usually be told what your responsibilities are and corrected if your behavior is out of line. Guiding principle: You're old enough to take responsibility for what you do and don't do, as well as for the consequences of your decisions.


High School Classes College Classes
Most of your classes are arranged for you. You arrange your own schedule in consultation with your academic advisor. Schedules tend to look lighter than they really are. You will be expected to spend at least twice as much time on your studies as you spend in class.
Teachers carefully monitor class attendance. Professors may not formally take roll, but they are still likely to know whether or not you attended.
Classes generally have no more than 35 students. Classes may number 100 students or more.
You are provided with textbooks at little or no expense. You need to budget substantial funds for textbooks, which will usually cost well over $200 each semester.
You are not responsible for knowing what it takes to graduate. Graduation requirements are complex, and differ for different majors and sometimes for different years. You are expected to know those that apply to you.


High School Teachers College Professors
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 and may not use a teaching style which is familiar to you.
Teachers provide you with information you missed when you were absent. Professors expect you to get any notes you missed from classmates.
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. They will expect you to relate the class lectures to the textbook readings.
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 on your part are a must.
Teachers impart knowledge and facts, sometimes drawing direct connections and leading you through the thinking process. Professors expect you to think about and make sense of and connect seemingly unrelated topics.
Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates. Professors expect you to read, save and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.


Studying in High School Studying in College
You may study outside of class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation. You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class.
You often need to read or hear presentations only once to learn all you need to learn about them. 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.
Guiding principle: You will usually be told in class what you needed to learn from assigned readings. 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.


Tests in High School Tests in College
Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material. 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 often available. Makeup tests are rarely an option; if they are, you need to request them.
Teachers frequently rearrange test dates to avoid conflict with school events. Professors in different courses usually schedule tests without regard to the demands of other courses or outside activities.
Teachers frequently conduct review sessions, pointing out the most important concepts. Professors rarely offer review sessions, and when they do, they expect you to be an active participant, one who comes prepared with questions. An alternative to professor-led sessions is voluntary Supplemental Instruction (SI) offered through the Academic Success Center, 1600 David Adamany Undergraduate Library.
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. 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 help 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 grade. 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. If you receive notice of low grades with an Early Academic Assessment notice, see your academic advisor and visit the Academic Success Center, 1600 David Adamany Undergraduate Library.
Guiding principle: "Effort counts." Courses are usually structured to reward a "good-faith effort." Guiding principle: "Results count." Although "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.

Adapted from web page found at "http://www.smu.edu/~alec/transition.html" - Southern Methodist University.