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How Will College be Different From High School?

Mridu Khullar

June 08, 2007

How Will College be Different From High School?

You’ve read the books, you’ve heard the advice, and you think you have a fair enough handle on what to expect when you get to college.

Sure, you may have heard all the advice about hectic schedules and immense freedom, but there are some things that the experts just can’t tell you. Like how, now that you’re responsible for your own food, you might have to concede that potato chips do not, in fact, constitute a food group. Or that textbooks are expensive, and you may actually have to give up something to be able to fund them. Or even though your roommate may be obnoxious and self-involved, he’s the one you’ll most likely go to for advice.

College isn’t just about classes, grades and gossip. It’s about finding yourself. That is the biggest difference between high school and college. Here are some more differences.

You Actually Learn

College isn’t about cramming for tests and spitting the info back out. It’s about retaining actual knowledge that you can use even when you’re out of the classroom.

“Some students respond well to the lecture/listen method used in most high school classrooms,” says Tamra Orr, educational writer and author of America’s Best Colleges for B Students. “Others like labs or hands-on work. Still others prefer to read the material rather than just listen to it.”

Explore the different learning styles and use the ones that work best to your advantage.

You Define Your Own Success

“Even high school, valedictorians can fall prey to the distractions of college. And even students who performed at an average level in high school can boost their performance to honors caliber if they receive cutting-edge study skills guidance,” says Gunnar Fox, author of University Success Plan.

Also remember that what worked for you in high school may not necessarily work in college. For one, subjects are taught in completely different ways. In high school, you concentrate on what happened; in college, you’ll discover the why. In high school, you learn grammar and sentence structure; in college, you’ll study literature. In high school, you learn a foreign language; in college, you’ll get to experience the entire foreign culture.

But the most important thing about studying in college is that no one’s going to tell you to do it. Your classes aren’t arranged for you, teachers won’t monitor your class attendance, and you’re expected to budget for your own textbooks. Though you can get help when you need it, for the most part, you’re on your own.

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