Close search
Parents & Family

Countdown to College: Is Your Student Ready?

Transitioning from high school to college can be exciting, challenging and emotional. The first six weeks of the first semester can be critical to a new student's academic success. Understanding the differences between high school and college can help students navigate the transition.

High School College
Personal Freedoms Families and teachers often guide students in decision-making and remind them of rules and responsibilities. Students make their own ethical/ moral decisions, are responsible for their own actions and are held accountable for infractions.
Socializing is often monitored by families with regard to curfews, permission and attendance at events. Students are considered juveniles until age 18. With regard to socializing, students self-manage time, activities and attention. Students 18 and older have legal and college-instituted consequences for infractions. Student privacy is governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
Instruction Methods Trained to be educators, teachers relay information directly during class. Out-of-class readings are discussed in class to help students understand and connect basic facts with complex concepts. Professors have expertise in particular disciplines. They assume students will take good notes during class lectures and use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to understand, synthesize and apply complex concepts.
Teachers monitor class attendance, check homework, remind students of incomplete work and approach students if they think assistance is needed. Professors often do not take attendance, check homework or remind students of incomplete work. Students are expected to self-monitor and ask for assistance.
Testing Teachers may have review sessions, may test often and rearrange test dates to avoid conflict with school events. Most professors do not have review sessions or rearrange test dates. Testing can be infrequent and cover lots of material.
Test preparation often requires students to memorize facts/formulas and to have a basic understanding of their applications. Professors expect students to analyze and apply information in complex ways that show they have mastered the material. Students must integrate material presented through lectures, readings and assignments.
Grading Homework and extra credit assignments can boost grades if test scores are low. Tests, major papers and projects weigh heavily in a course grade.