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College vs. High School

The transition from the high school environment to the collegiate setting can bring with it a number of changes that many students might have not have foreseen and can cause confusion, frustration, and anxiety. It is with this in mind that we have compiled an easy to reference list of the differences between high school and college.

Personal Freedom

In High School -

  • Students can count on parents and teachers to remind them of their responsibilities
  • Parents and teachers guide students in setting priorities
  • Students will usually be explicitly told what their responsibilities are
  • Behavior is corrected if it is out of line

In College -

  • Students are old enough to take responsibility for what they do and do not do
  • Students must take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions
  • Students will be faced with a large number of unfamiliar moral and ethical decisions
  • Students will need to balance responsibilities and set priorities on their own


In High School -

  • Each day students proceed from one class directly to another and spend up to 6 hours a day in class
  • The school year is 36 weeks long; some classes extend over both semesters and some do not
  • Class schedules are determined by a guidance counselor
  • Teachers carefully monitor class attendance
  • Students are provided with textbooks at little or no expense
  • Students are not responsible for knowing graduation requirements

In College -

  • Class times vary throughout the day and evening and you may spend 12 to 16 hours each week in class
  • The academic year is divided into two separate 15-week semesters
  • Students develop their own schedules and register for their own courses after consulting their academic advisor
  • Professors may not formally take attendance, but they are likely to know who is attending
  • Students must budget substantial funds for textbooks (around $300-400 each semester)
  • Students are expected to know graduation requirements for their degree

Teachers versus Professors

High School Teachers -

  • Teachers check your completed homework
  • Remind students of assignments, due dates, and late work
  • Approach students if they believe they may need assistance
  • Provide students with information missed when the student is absent

College Professors -

  • May not always check completed homework, but assume students do it
  • Are usually open and helpful, but expect students to initiate contact if they need assistance
  • Expect students who are absent to obtain notes from classmates
  • Expect students to read, save, and consult the course syllabus


In High School -

  • You can study outside of class as little as 2 hours a week, mostly as last-minute test preparation
  • Often need to read or hear the presentations once to learn all the necessary material
  • Expect to read short assignments that are then discussed and re-taught in class

In College -

  • You need to student at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for every hour in class
  • Review notes and text material on a regular basis
  • Assigned a substantial amount of reading and writing that might not be directly discussed in class


In High School -

  • Testing in class usually frequent and covers small amounts of material
  • Makeup tests are often available to students who do not do well the first time
  • Teachers frequently rearrange dates to avoid conflicts with school events

In College -

  • Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material
  • Students, not the professor, need to organize the material to prepare for the test
  • A particular course may only have 2 or 3 tests in a semester
  • Makeup tests are seldom offered and students must actively request them from the professor
  • Professors schedule tests without regard to demands of other courses or outside activities


In High School -

  • Grades are given for most assigned work
  • Consistently good homework grades may help raise the overall class grade, even when test grades are low
  • Extra-credit projects are often available for students to help raise their grades
  • Students may graduate as long as they have passed all of their courses with a grade of "D" or better

In College -

  • Grades may not be provided for all assigned work
  • Grades on tests and papers usually provide the majority of the course grade
  • Extra-credit projects are generally not offered or not applied to the overall course grade
  • Students may graduate only if their Grade Point Average meets a minimum of a 2.0

Jennifer DeWeerth
Associate Dean for Student Enrollment and Retention Services

Utica - Payne Hall 104B
Rome - Plumley Complex A30

Phone (Utica): (315) 792-5608
Phone (Rome): (315) 334-7755
Fax: (315) 792-5696

Email: Advising

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