» How is College Different From High School?

The below is adapted from "How is College Different from High School," SMU.

Although entering college as a new freshmen can be very exciting, it can also be a somewhat daunting experience. We hope the information below will assist you in learning more about some of the new experiences you will have as a scholar at Chapman University.

Take control of your own education : think of yourself as a scholar.

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Following the Rules vs. Choosing Responsibility

Following the Rules in High School Choosing Responsibility in College
High school is mandatory and usually free College is voluntary and expensive.
Your time is structured by others. You manage your own time.

You can count on parents and teachers to remind
you of your responsibilities and to guide you in
setting priorities.

You must balance your responsibilities and
set priorities. You will face moral and ethical
decisions you have never faced before.

Each day you proceed from one class directly to
another, spending 6 hours each day--30 hours a
week--in class.

You often have hours between classes; class
times vary throughout the day and evening
and you spend only 12 to 16 hours each week
in class

Most of your classes are arranged for you

You arrange your own schedule in
consultation with your adviser. Schedules
tend to look lighter than they really are.

You are not responsible for knowing what it takes to

Graduation requirements are complex, and
differ from year to year. You are expected to
know those that apply to you.

Guiding principle: You will usually be told
what to do and corrected if your behavior is
out of line.

Guiding principle: You are expected to take
responsibility for what you do and don't do,
as well as for the consequences of your

Class Attendance

Going to Class in High School Succeeding in College Classes

You may study outside class as little as 0 to 2 hours a
week, and this may be mostly last-minute test

You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours
outside of class for each hour in class.

You seldom need to read anything more than once,
and sometimes listening in class is enough.

You need to review class notes and text
material regularly.

You are expected to read short assignments that are
then discussed, and often re-taught, in class.

You are assigned substantial amounts of
reading and writing which may not be
directly addressed in class.

Guiding principle: You will usually be told in
class what you need to learn from assigned

Guiding principle: It's up to you to read and
understand the assigned material; lectures
and assignments proceed from the
assumption that you've already done so.

Teachers vs. Professors

High School Teachers College Professors
Teachers check your completed homework.

Professors may not always check completed
homework, but they will assume you can
perform the same tasks on tests.

Teachers remind you of your incomplete work.

Professors may not remind you of incomplete

Teachers are often available for conversation before,
during, or after class.

Professors expect and want you to attend
their scheduled office hours.

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

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

Teachers present material to help you understand
the material in the textbook.

Professors may not follow the textbook.
Instead, to amplify the text, they may give
illustrations, provide background
information, or discuss research about the
topic you are studying. Or they may expect
you to relate the classes to the textbook

Teachers impart knowledge and facts, sometimes
drawing direct connections and leading you through
the thinking process.

Professors expect you to think about and
synthesize seemingly unrelated topics.

Teachers often take time to remind you of
assignments and due dates.

Professors expect you to read, save, and
consult the course syllabus (outline); the
syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of
you, when it is due, and how you will be

Teachers carefully monitor class attendance.

Professors may not formally take roll, but
they are still likely to know whether or not
you attended.

Guiding principle: High school is a teaching
environment in which you acquire facts and

Guiding principle: College is a learning
environment in which you take responsibility
for thinking through and applying what you
have learned.


Tests in High School Tests in College

Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of

Testing is usually infrequent and may be
cumulative, covering large amounts of
material. You, not the professor, need to
organize the material to prepare for the test.

Teachers frequently rearrange test dates to avoid
conflict with school events.

Professors in different courses usually
schedule tests without regard to the demands
of other courses or outside activities.

Teachers frequently conduct review sessions,
pointing out the most important concepts.

Professors rarely offer review sessions, and
when they do, they expect you to be an active
participant, one who comes prepared with

Guiding principle: Mastery is usually seen as
the ability to reproduce what you were taught
in the form in which it was presented to you,
or to solve the kinds of problems you were
shown how to solve.

Guiding principle: Mastery is often seen as
the ability to apply what you've learned to
new situations or to solve new kinds of


Grades in High School Grades in College

Consistently good homework grades may raise your
overall grade when test grades are low.

Grades on tests and major papers usually
provide most of the course grade.

Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may
not have an adverse effect on your final grade.

Watch out for your first tests. These are
usually "wake-up calls" to let you know what
is expected--but they also may account for a
substantial part of your course grade. You
may be shocked when you get your grades.

You may graduate as long as you have passed all
required courses with a grade of D or higher.

You may graduate only if your average in
classes meets the departmental standard--
typically a 2.0 or C.

Guiding principle: Effort counts. Courses are
usually structured to reward a "good-faith

Guiding principle: Results count. Though
"good-faith effort" is important in regard to
the professor's willingness to help you
achieve good results, it will not substitute for
results in the grading process.