How College Academics are Different from High School?

The changeover from high school to college can be a different and difficult one. Both your social and academic life will be remarkably different from high school. Below are  the most significant differences on the academics.


In high school, you are required to go to school everyday. In college, the decision is up to you . No one is going to hunt you down if you regularly sleep through your morning classes, but the absences could be disastrous for your grades. Some of your college classes will have attendance policies, and some won’t. In either case, attending regularly is essential for college success.

Life without parents

Life without parents may sound exciting, but it can be a challenge. No one is going to poke you constantly to do something you if you’re messing up. No one is going to wake you up for class or make you do your homework. No one will wash your laundry or tell you to eat well either.

No hand holding

In high school, your teachers are likely to pull you aside if they think that you are struggling. But in college, your professors will expect you to initiate the conversation if you need any help.  They are ready to help you but it won’t come to you till you ask them . If you miss class, it’s up to you to keep up with the work and get notes from a classmate. Your professor won’t teach a class twice just because you missed that class.

Less time in class

In high school, you spend most of your day in classes but in college, you will average about three or four hours of class time a day. Using all that unstructured time productively will be the key to success in college.

Running Notes

Your teachers often follow the book closely and write on the board everything that needs to go in your notes. In college, you’ll need to take notes on reading assignments that are never discussed in class. You’ll also need to take running notes in class, not just what is written on the board. Often the content of classroom conversation is not in the book, but it may be on the exam.


In high school, your teachers probably checked all your homework. In college, many professors won’t check up on you to make sure that you’re reading and learning the material. Totally it’s up to you. If you want to succeed you need to put the effort.

More time to study

You may spend less time in college classes than you did in high school, but you need to spend more time studying and doing homework. Most college classes require 2 to 3 hours of homework for every hour of class time. That means that a 15 hour class schedule has at least 30 hours of class work each week.


Testing is usually less frequent in college compared to high school, so a single exam may cover a couple months worth of material. Your college professors may test you on material from the assigned readings that was never discussed in class. If you miss a test in college, you will probably get a “0”. Also, tests will often ask you to apply what you have learned to new situations, not just regurgitate memorized information.

High expectations

Your college professors are going to look for a high level of logical thinking than most of your high school teachers did. You’re not going to get an A grade for effort in college, you usually get  the opportunity to do extra credit work.

Grading System

College professors tend to base final grades largely on a couple big tests and papers. Effort by itself won’t win you high grades it’s the results of your effort that will be graded. If you have a bad test or paper grade in college, chances are you won’t be allowed to re do extra credit work. Low grades in college can have serious consequences such as lost scholarships or even debarment.

One thought on “How College Academics are Different from High School?

  • July 20, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks for this post with perfect information.

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