High School vs. College Learning

The transition from high school to college learning can be a difficult one. Read through this chart and identify which comments seem appropriate for either high school or college students. Check your answers at the end, and then consider what your conceptions of college learning are and how you might need to change the habits that you bring from high school.

Decide whether each statement would most likely come from a high school or college student, and check off the appropriate column.

# Statments High School College
1 My parents or teachers will remind me about my responsibilities. | |
2 I have a lot of choices and freedom. | |
3 Extra credit is often available to help raise my grade. | |
4 I have to keep track of my own courses and make sure I’m fulfilling all requirements for graduation. | |
5 My teacher assigns but doesn’t check my homework, and yet I’m expected to do similar tasks correctly on a test. | |
6 I have a lot of free time during my day that I’m responsible for using well. | |
7 Most of my work takes place in class, not on my own. | |
8 I don’t have many tests, but the ones I have cover a lot of material and are worth a large percentage of my final grade. | |
9 If I forget to do my homework, my teacher will remind me that it’s due. | |
10 I need to study at least two hours outside of class for each hour in class. | |
11 My teachers are trained as experts in their subject, not necessarily in teaching. | |
12 Teachers help identify the important material by writing key words, ideas, and definitions on the board or overhead. | |
13 My day is scheduled for me. | |
14 If there’s a textbook, the teacher may not follow it closely, but I’ll still be expected to read it on my own. | |
15 The teaching is more about concepts, not just facts. | |
16 The teacher goes over the assigned reading in class. | |
17 I take frequent tests that cover smaller amounts of material. | |
18 Teachers take school events and other teachers’ assignments into account when they schedule tests or due dates. | |
19 On tests, students are expected to apply what they’ve learned to new problems, not just memorize and repeat information. | |
20 Homework makes up a substantial portion of my grade. | |

The statements more characteristic for high school students are 1, 3, 7, 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, and 20; those more typical for college students are 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, and 19. Examine the statements you identified incorrectly, and consider what your expectations of college studying and learning are. How do they differ from your experience in high school? How can thinking about this difference now help you as you start classes?

Adapted from POWER learning: Strategies for success in college and life (2005), McGraw Hill, p. 20.