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Comparing College to High School

Knowing some of the changes you will experience when you transition into college can be important to your success. As a college student it is helpful for you to understand the shift in responsibility for time management and the expectations of school work outside of the classroom.

Knowing what to expect in lectures, tests and course grades will help you to prepare and ask for the help you may need.

Rules and Responsibilities

Following Rules in High School

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

  • High School is mandatory and paid for by taxes
  • Your time is structured by others
  • 6 hrs/day - 30 hrs/wk in class

Choosing Responsibility in College

Guiding principle: You are expected to know the Student Code of Conduct and take responsibility for what you do.

  • College is voluntary and paid for by you
  • You manage your own time
  • Only 12 - 20+ hours in class each week

Work Expectations

Going to High School

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

  • The school year is 36 weeks long
  • You may not study at all outside your classes
  • Assigned readings are then discussed and re-taught in class

Succeeding in College

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

  • Year is divided into two separate 15 week semesters plus one week for exams
  • You may need to study at least two hours outside of class for every hour of class
  • Assigned readings may not be directly addressed in class

Teaches and Instructors

High School Teachers

Guiding principle: High School is a teaching environment in which you acquire facts and skills.

  • remind you of incomplete work
  • approach you if they think you need assistance
  • are often available before, during or after class
  • have been trained in teaching methods to assist in imparting knowledge to students
  • provide you with information you missed when you were absent
  • present material to help you understand the material in the book
  • often write information on the board to be copied in your notes
  • Remind you of assignments and due dates
  • Carefully monitor class attendance

College Instructors

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

  • may not remind you of incomplete work
  • are open and helpful but you are expected to initiate contact if needed
  • expect you to attend their scheduled office hours or email them if needed
  • have been trained as experts in their particular areas of research
  • expect you to get information you missed from classmates or eConestoga
  • may not follow the text book. They may expect you to relate the classes to the text book readings.
  • may lecture continuously, expecting you to identify the important points
  • Expect you to read, save and consult the course outline for due dates
  • May not formally take attendance


Tests in High School

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.

  • Teachers frequently rearrange test dates to avoid other conflicts
  • Reviews often take place in class
  • Test times and accommodations are arranged by the teacher

Tests in College

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

  • Instructors schedule tests without regard to other course dates
  • Review sessions don't always occur
  • Tests need to be booked by the student to access test accommodations


Grades in High School

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

  • Good homework grades may raise your overall grade
  • Initial test grades may not have an adverse effect on your final grade.
  • You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with grade of D or higher

Grades in College

Guiding principle: Results count. You need to meet the course outcomes as outlined with sufficient marks to pass.

  • Grades on tests and major papers provide most of the course grade
  • Initial tests are usually "wake-up calls" to let you know what is expected.
  • You may graduate only if your average in courses meets the departmental standard.
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