We’ve all seen the movies Old School and Road Trip, and I think these movies somewhat reflect certain social situations that you may face in college/university. However, college is not just about having fun and partying – it’s more of a ‘welcome to the real world’ realization that smacks you in the face! There are many differences between high school and college that you should know about in order to better prepare yourself for the transition with as little stress as possible!
Some differences between high school and university:
Gone are the days when you knew everyone’s name in your class. Lectures in most large universities in the US have as many as 700 students! This can take a little getting used to – but the good news is that most students chose the same seat to sit in throughout the quarter. Over time, you will at least still be able to recognize some familiar faces.
Courses in college and universities naturally cover a topic in much greater depth. As it is impossible for a professor to cover all areas of a topic during lecture time, you will likely be assigned a lot of reading to do after you go home. Books in college/university are by nature more more intensive. As a result, professors end up requiring
No extensions on deadlines (or at least they are more difficult to get!)
Colleges and universities usually have a set schedule of deadlines for submitting assignments, quizzes, and research papers. If a student does not submit their work on time, the professor usually gives the student an automatic fail grade. However, sometimes, delays in submitting work can be inevitable. If that is the case, it is necessary and pertinent to let the professor know as soon as possible, and discuss ways to make up for the delay. Professors usually give extensions at their own discretion, and will always appreciate it if the student lets them know early as to not appear that the student ‘forget’ to do the work.
Unlike high school, studying in college and university is usually done independently. In other terms, you are on your own when it comes to studying and completing the required work for your classes. Professors will not usually take the time to question why a student’s work was not submitted. Make sure to set a study schedule that is effective, and to continuously motivate yourself to study.
The study ‘year’ is out and the study ‘quarter’ is in
The vast majority of colleges/universities use ‘quarters’, which are usually only three months long. If you are a full time student, you will find that there is quite a bit of material to cover over three months. You will start thinking of your courses as ‘steps’ towards your degree. Not all courses are created equal – there will be some courses that you hate, while others that you love. Either way, you are done with a course at the end of the quarter, and each quarter brings forth new courses and topics.
The benefit of elective courses
Unlike many high school’s you will have the opportunity to explore many elective courses in college/university. Elective courses are great in exploring what you are passionate about and to help you decide what career goal interests you the most. Make the best of the elective courses. Some students use easy elective courses as GPA boosters. This is not a bad idea, as long as it does not become a habit.
There are some great tips on making the most out of your university experience that I have found and would like to share with you. I will start with the ‘fun’ stuff:
1. Whether you have moved away to attend college/university, or you’re attending in your own hometown, this is a time when you can recreate who you are and find yourself! You will be meeting different people from around the world, and because you are maturing (and hopefully so is everyone else around you) there will be less peer pressure to act a certain way. Be who you want to be – and keep your beliefs and values in tact during this exciting time.
2. Get involved in social clubs and sports. This is a great way to meet new people while staying active in your educational setting and doing something that you enjoy. This is also a great opportunity to get a scholarship if you excel at a sport at your college or university as well as add it to your resume.
3. Your class syllabus is GOLD! Profs won’t be reminding you every day of upcoming deadlines. This is your responsibility. Ensure that you keep track of important dates, deadlines and upcoming events. Now that we all have iPhones and Blackberries, it is easier to keep track of important dates!
4. Unlike high school, you will have much more freedom and flexibility to choosing what to study. Study what interests you – this will keep you focused and wanting to learn more.
5. Don’t skip classes! While ‘most’ profs don’t take attendance in college, it is crucial not to skip class. You can miss a lot in a short amount of time and it is difficult to catch up. Remember – you are paying for college!!! It’s not free, and you should make the most of your time there. If you do miss a class or lecture, try to find someone who is willing to lend you their notes so you can catch up. Remember, most of the time, whatever is discussed in class is most likely to show up on the midterms and exams.
6. Ask questions in class and chat with your professors so they get to know you. You don’t just have to be another number!
7. Plagiarism is a serious offence, and is taken very seriously in college and university. Today, there is countless software that professors and teachers will use to check your work for plagiarism – DON’T DO IT. It’s that simple, and it really isn’t worth it.
8. Your grades may drop from high school to college. Don’t be discouraged. Study hard, ask for help and put socializing on the back burner until you get back on track!
Remember, your years at college and university are meant to prepare you for a career in your field of choice – this is your main goal. Friends will come and go, there will be ups and downs, but once you receive your diploma/degree at the end, it will all have been worth it!