What are some differences between high school and college classes?

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docent5353 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A few salient differences in the expectation level of a college student are:

1.  In college, the student selects and pays for his/her education.

2.  College is a not a place where one would go to just, "hang out" or be counted.  Most of the college students I have taught are serious students that attend college to achieve upward mobility.

3.  Most college students attend college so that they can obtain a career and receive a higher salary than a person that did not attend college.

4.  The college staff seems to be more serious and goal oriented.  Unlike high school, the atmosphere of a college classroom or library is professional for the most part.

5.  Social interests such as selecting a mate or a social group to belong to is also more plentiful and more demanding than in high school.

6. Organization of time, materials and ideas.  Most people live with family in high school and do not have to concern themselves with rent, bills, gas, car payments and food.  In college students are more responsible for themselves and their resources, so more life skills and social skills are needed to tackle the "adult world".

7.  Relationships both academic and personal are more intensified. It is not okay to tell a friend or housemate that they can depend on you for something and then just decide you will not keep your word.  In college, the stakes are higher and people teachers, staff, friends and society see you as an adult that is responsible; so you must not overpromise or under deliver.  It is good to balance your classes and your personal life and wait to see if a person is trustworthy before you decide to share every detail about yourself. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have taught classes at both the high school and the college level.  Because I have done this, I have a pretty good grip on how these levels differ.

To me, the major difference is in the amount of reading that is required.  In high school (at least in the high school where I have taught) average students do not read well enough to deal with readings that are as long and complex as those that I assign to college students.  High school students are also taking more classes and have less time to do reading outside of class.

Because high school students lack the time and ability to read as much, high school classes have to spend more time imparting information.  In college classes, you can assign the reading and then jump off from there.  In high school classes, you have to actually give the students the information in class and then try to discuss it in the time that is left.

(I teach history, economics and political science so my answers pertain to classes in those fields.)

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to the asnwers above, I find a difference that my returning high school students note the type of tasks they are asked to complete.

In high school, they feel somewhat entertained. They feel they are treated simply. Many tasks feel like busy work to them. It is just processing information.

They report that in college they have to think and express with creativity and intellect. They don't necessarily have "fun" in class, but they are inspired by the challenge.

Returning students often assert that they wish they would have taken high school more seriously, that it would have been more of a challenge because they felt ill prepared for college, and that they appreciate having to be careful about their studies because they pay for it.

arrellbelle | Student

I graduated from high school in 2013 and I am now a 2nd year student in college. The difference between high school and college is the amount of time spent at school. Usually classes in high school were 4 periods of 1 hour and 30 minutes. In college it can go to as many classes as you want in a day to 50 minutes or the full 3 hours. Also, teachers have more expertise is college because they have Doctorates or PhDs. The size of the campus is larger and tis results in meeting a wide variety of people.

prashant86 | Student

n high school, school attendance was no doubt mandatory. Your parents made you go to school. If you missed, you needed a note to excuse this absence. Some schools even had rules about how many classes you were allowed to miss, even if excused. In college, the attendance policy is much more relaxed. Some professors do take attendance, particularly in freshman-level courses. Most college professors do not bother with taking attendance. If you have a large class of 120 people, do you realize how long it would take to call all those names out....

trotterteach | Student

I teach both high school and college courses and I think there are a couple of differences between them.  First of all, as a college teacher, I expect my students to be more responsible and self motivated.  I expect them to be ready for class and to turn in work on time.  My grading is tougher.  College classes also require more independent work than high school classes.  In my high school classes, we do alot of the work in class.  In college, they are expected to do alot of their work on their own time.  In college classes, I do not have any patience for misbehavior because these are people who are paying to go to school.  High school, of course, is different.  Behavior is a part of our everday challenges. 

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