College and high school both have classes, students and teachers. College is a completely different world than high school. The focus in high school is educating and equipping teens with the skills needed for adulthood and life. College prepares adults for careers and or to reach personal goals.
One of the greatest differences between high school and college is freedom. Out of necessity, the high school environment is by teachers, administrators and security. In high school, students have some choice in course selection within a prescribed course of study often determined by state or accrediting agencies. In college, students have the freedom to select a major, the courses and number of courses taken and even to attend or skip class. For some college students especially freshman freedom can be overwhelming.
In college, the responsibility for one’s success is with the student. In high school teachers must monitor a student’s progress, encourage and motivate students to succeed. I had a practice of giving my students an assignment sheet every 3-6 weeks, had assignments on the board, email reminders and verbal reminders of assignments. Students caught short or failing to complete an assignment still believed that somehow it was my fault. Even some parents felt I should have somehow done more, give his/her child extra time or otherwise not allow them to face the consequences of irresponsibility. In college, students receive a syllabus at the beginning of the semester and it is the student’s responsibility to complete assignments in a timely manner.
Many students graduate from high school without ever being academically challenged. High school teachers must often teach to middle or lower level students. Often students are able to graduate from high school without learning to study. In high school I was able to make B’s by just being semi-conscious in class, I quickly learned in college that I had to actually participate and pay attention in class. Preparing for tests is another is drastically different in college. In high school teachers provide review sheets and in class reviews. College professors often provide a review sheet but it is the student’s responsibility to complete it.
The method of instruction is quite different in college. Most college classes are lecture based and require extensive amounts outside work and preparation for class. Being prepared for a high school class involves having the correct book, supplies and homework. College students are expected to read assignments in preparation for class discussions and complete homework even if it is not graded. In high school, teachers are encouraged and in some cases required to provide instruction employing a wide range of multi-sensory methods. The majority of assignments are completed in class.
Grading is extremely different in college. When I was teaching high school we were required to have at least three daily assignments per week, three to four test per grading period and one project. Daily assignments, tests and projects made up one third of the grade. Grades in college are often based up two or three tests and one to two papers. The purpose of homework assignments is quite different in college. Homework assignments in high school are used to provide reinforcement, usually graded and assigned several times a week. Homework assignments may not be graded, occur less frequently and may be used to cover supplemental material.
The transition from high school to college can be difficult for some students. However, with a proper understanding of the differences between secondary and post-secondary education it is not an impossible tasks. College can or should be time of personal growth, self-discovery and preparation for life