High School vs. College

College is Different from High School (PDF) [Opens in New Window]

How is College Different than High School?

You may have had a great high school experience where good grades were not too difficult to achieve and studying outside of class was minimal. However, college is much more rigorous than high school so the study habits you’ve already developed may not be sufficient for college level coursework. You will need to learn new ways to learn and study as well as how to think more critically.

The following are some pointers to guide you along the way to becoming a great student (even if you were a “good” student in high school). Knowing what to expect will help you overcome obstacles to your success in college.

How is College different than High School?

High School

Your time is structured by others; you can count on parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities.

Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of information.


You manage your own time; you must prioritize and balance your school, family, and work responsibilities.

Testing is usually infrequent and may cover large amounts of material.

Know what to expect in college!
Allow plenty of time for review & studying outside of class – get organized — manage your time wisely – be responsible for your own learning.

High School

You may study outside of class as little as 0 to 2 hours per week—mostly for test and quiz preparation.

Teachers provide you with information you missed when you are absent.

You usually only need to read material just once to understand the information, and most assignments are short.

You get most (80%) of what you need to know directly from the teacher’s class lectures and in class assignments. The remaining 20% from reading the book or other materials. You are not expected to gather a lot of information on your own.

Knowing definitions and having a simple understanding of concepts are sufficient for you to pass your classes. Good–faith efforts count.


You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for every hour in class. College is a full-time endeavor.

Professors expect you to get any notes you missed from classmates.

You need to review class and textbook notes regularly. There will be substantial reading and writing assignments.

You get 20% of what you need to know for exams from the professor’s class lectures; the remaining 80% you’ll need will come from reading the text, other materials recommended by your professor, and sources you find on your own.

Just knowing definitions—without under-standing how to analyze and apply what you’ve learned – is insufficient to pass college level classes. Results count.