7 Ways College Is Different from High School


Everyone knows that college is completely different from high school, but you may be unaware about exactly how the two vary. Learning about the differences can help you prepare for the change.

1. Hours in Class

At high school, you have back-to-back classes throughout the day. This results in about six hours of classes a day, 30 hours a week. In contrast, you’ll only take around 12 to 16 hours of classes a week at college. Plus, there could be long gaps between classes, especially if you take some classes at night.

2. Style of Teaching

Teachers give classes at high school. They often write down information for students to copy into their notebooks and may work on activities with you during class. The lectures at college are completely different: they’re given by professors or graduate assistants and only provide you with key information about the topic. You’ll need to be taking notes throughout the lecture. There may also be opportunities to join in discussions or answer questions, but this depends on the professor.

3. Class Sizes

The maximum class size at high school is about 30. At college, class sizes depend on what school you attend and what classes you take, but they can be anywhere from 20 students to a couple hundred.

4. Homework Requirements

You receive regular homework at high school and your teachers are always checking your progress. Homework tends to be task based, with no more than about two hours of reading. At college, your professors may assign readings and other tasks or you may need to rely on the course syllabus to find out what you need to do. You’ll be required to study about two or three hours in your own time for every one hour of class — and you’ll likely struggle to understand lectures if you fall behind schedule.

5. Self-Management

At high school, there’s always someone checking that you’re on track and making note of your attendance. Teachers and school administrators will reach out to you or your parents if you seem to be struggling or falling behind.
At college, managing your time is up to you. Depending on the class size, your professors may be unaware if you skip class — and they definitely won’t know if you’re on track to submit a project or paper on time. If you’re finding a class difficult, it’s up to you to pay the professor a visit during office hours. For academic skills, you can receive additional support from student services.

6. Tests

Regular tests at high school check your knowledge and reveal gaps in your understanding. If you fail a test, you can usually retake it without any negative consequences. Tests are far less frequent at college — each class may have just two or three per semester. This means that tests cover a much larger range of topics and you’ll need to prepare sufficiently to gain a good grade. It’s also rare that you’ll have the chance to do a makeup test.

7. What You’re Graded On

High school assesses your understanding of material and your ability to solve similar problems to those you covered in class. You may also receive a higher grade if your teacher knows that you put in a large amount of effort for a subject you find difficult, or you could have the chance to gain extra credit to improve your grade. At college, professors grade on your ability to apply your knowledge to new problems or situations. Tests can contribute considerably to your grade and there tend to be few opportunities to gain extra credit.

Another major difference between high school and college is that you’ll be living away from home, which means you’ll be responsible for finding your own housing. Foundry 1805 is a great alternative to Durham College residence. You’ll receive a spacious suite, fully furnished and with plenty of storage. Our student housing is just steps from North Oshawa campus and has great onsite amenities, including study rooms, a large parking lot, and laundry facilities. Sign a lease now to benefit from our early bird pricing.