If you spend any time on social media, you know that high school seniors everywhere are announcing to the world how excited they are to be leaving for college soon; they talk about decorating dorm rooms and having no curfew, eagerly anticipating the day they are finally free from their parents and the confines of secondary school. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that I too was counting down the days until my high school graduation; I couldn’t wait to live on my own and make my own choices. I soon found out, however, that college isn’t the four-year party that’s depicted in most Hollywood movies. Now, I’m not saying that it’s all work and no play, but you have to get your priorities straight, especially if you plan to graduate on time. Yes, there will be time to socialize, but you may be surprised to find that your schedule is much more limited than you anticipated. To make sure you are prepared for the changes ahead, let’s look at how both differ in the following areas.
High School – You have no say in which teachers you will be assigned or when you will have class. You may have the same class for the entire year, which can really make life miserable if you hate the subject matter or dislike the teacher. You also have classes for six to eight hours a day, five days a week. Basically, it’s an unpaid, full-time job.
College – You determine which classes and professors you will select, as well as what time and day you will attend classes. Typically, you will spend anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a week in class, but only attend two to four days a week. You will most likely have large breaks (an hour or longer) between your classes, as well. Unlike high school, your classes will be between six and sixteen weeks in length.
High School – You may be able to complete your assignments in class or during a free period, depending on the type of classes. Even those in accelerated programs may only have a few hours of work per class per week. Teachers will continually remind you of upcoming projects, due dates and may accept late work. Each assignment typically counts for a small percentage of your grade.
College – You should expect two to three hours of homework for each credit hour you take per semester; for example, if you attend full-time (12+ credit hours), you may spend 25 to 30 hours per week working on assignments and studying. You are responsible for knowing when assignments are due and professors rarely accept late work. Although you may have fewer assignments, they will require more work and be worth a higher percentage of your overall grade.
High School – Your teacher will take roll each day to ensure you are in class. He/she will know you by name and will pay close attention to your academic success. If you appear to be having trouble, your teacher may provide opportunities for extra credit, after-school study help or contact your parents to discuss other options for improving your grades. Socializing with your teacher outside of school is frowned upon in most cases.
College – Although most college professors do not take roll, some may actually reduce your grade for lack of participation or too many missed classes. College professors are aware of your academic progress, but if you need assistance, they will expect you to approach them for help. Unlike high school, some professors do socialize with their students outside of the classroom. Professors will not contact your parents to update them on your grades or recent test scores.
High School – In high school, your guidance counselors and teachers will continue to review your progress to ensure you are meeting the state and district requirements for graduation. Even if you do not receive a ‘C’ or better in all of your classes, you may still be allowed to graduate and earn your diploma. Your school will notify you when you are eligible to graduate and provide assistance with finding everything you need for your big day.
College – You will be responsible for knowing what requirements must be met for your degree, and you must pass each course with a ‘C” or better. When you enter your final semester of college, you will need to submit the proper paperwork to participate in your school’s graduation ceremony. If you miss any deadlines or fail to meet the necessary requirements, you will not be allowed to graduate.
The move from high school to college is both exciting and scary; you’ll no longer have your parents around to help you stay on course and you’ll be responsible for your actions. Although you’ll have more freedom in choosing what you study and when, you’ll also need to manage your time accordingly, if you want to succeed. It may seem like a million miles away right now, but college will be here before you know it. Until then, enjoy these last precious moments with your friends and use your ‘my dog ate my homework’ excuse before it expires!
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