Difference Between High School & College | Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In
CGCC logo


How Is College Different from High School?

(Data collected and originally presented by  Montgomery College, Montgomery County Maryland.)

High School

Following the Rules in High School

  1. Guiding principle: You will usually be told what to do and corrected if your behavior is out of line.
  2. High school is mandatory and usually free.
  3. Your time is structured by others.
  4. You need permission to participate in
    extracurricular activities.
  5. You can count on parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities and to guide you in setting priorities.
  6. Each day you proceed from one class directly to another, spending 6 hours each day - 30 hours per week - in class.
  7. Most of your classes are arranged for you.
  8. You are not responsible for knowing what it takes to graduate.

Choosing Responsibility in College

  1. Guiding principle: You are expected to take responsibility for what you do and don't do, as well as for the consequences of your decisions
  2. College is voluntary and expensive.
  3. You manage your own time.
  4. You must decide whether to participate in co-curricular activities or not.
  5. You must balance your responsibilities and set priorities. You will face moral and ethical decisions you have never faced before.
  6. You often have hours between classes; class times vary throughout the day and evening and your spend only 12 to 16 hours each week in class.
  7. You arrange your own schedule in consultation with your adviser. Schedules tend to look lighter than they really are.
  8. Graduation requirements are complex, and differ from year to year. You are expected to know those that apply to you.

Going to High School Classes

  1. Guiding principle: You will usually be told in class what you need to learn from assigned readings.
  2. The school year is 36 weeks long; some classes extend over both semesters and some don't.
  3. Classes generally have no more than 35 students.
  4. You may study outside class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation.
  5. You seldom need to read anything more than once, and sometimes listening in class is enough.
  6. You are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class.

Succeeding in College Classes

  1. 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.
  2. The academic year is divided into two separate
    15-week semesters, plus a week after each semester for exams.
  3. Classes may number 100 students or more.
  4. You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of
    class for each hour in class.
  5. You need to review class notes and text material
  6. You are assigned substantial amounts of reading
    and writing which may not be directly addressed
    in class.
High School Teachers
  1. Guiding principle: High school is a teaching environment in which you acquire facts and skills.
  2. Teachers check your completed homework.
  3. Teachers remind you of your incomplete work.
  4. Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance.
  5. Teachers are often available for conversation before, during, or after class.
  6. Teachers have been trained in teaching methods to assist in imparting knowledge to students.
  7. Teachers provide you with information you missed when you were absent.
  8. Teachers present material to help you understand the material in the textbook.
  9. Teachers often write information on the board to be copied in your notes.
  10. Teachers impart knowledge and facts, sometimes drawing direct connections and leading you through the thinking process.
  11. Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates.
  12. Teachers carefully monitor class attendance​
College Professors
  1. Guiding principle: College is a learning environment
    in which you take responsibility for thinking through
    and applying what you have learned.
  2. Professors may not always check completed homework, but they will assume you can perform the same tasks on tests.
  3. Professors may not remind you of incomplete work.
  4. Professors are usually open and helpful, but most
    expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.
  5. Professors expect and want you to attend their
    scheduled office hours.
  6. Professors have been trained as experts in their
    particular areas of research.
  7. Professors expect you to get from classmates any
    notes from classes you missed.
  8. 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 readings.
  9. Professors may lecture nonstop, expecting you to identify the important points in your notes. When professors write on the board, it may be to amplify the lecture, not to summarize it. Good notes are a must.
  10. Professors expect you to think about and synthesize
    seemingly unrelated topics.
  11. 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 graded.
  12. Professors may not formally take roll, but they are
    still likely to know whether or not you attended.​

Grades in High School

  1. Guiding principle: "Effort counts." Courses are usually structured to reward a "good-faith effort."
  2. Grades are given for most assigned work.
  3. Consistently good homework grades may raise your overall grade when test grades are low.
  4. Extra credit projects are often available to help you raise your grade.
  5. Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not have an adverse effect on your final grade.
  6. You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher. ​

Grades in College

  1. 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.
  2. Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
  3. Grades on tests and major papers usually provide
    most of the course grade.
  4. Extra credit projects cannot, generally speaking, be
    used to raise a grade in a college course.
  5. 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.
  6. You may graduate only if your average in classes
    meets the departmental standard--typically a 2.0 or C.