Home > Resources > College Prep > Preparing for College > What to Expect When You Get to College

What to Expect When You Get to College

College can be intimidating for high school seniors. The rigorous elimination process that many aspiring students endure after applying to colleges often leaves them feeling inadequate and unqualified even after they are accepted into a university. Don’t despair - your college career will be manageable if you make the effort! Students who arrive equipped with an abundance of potential and an eagerness to succeed find that they are more than prepared to handle the challenges that await them at college.

  • Climate

    The climate on a college campus is one of the major distinguishing differences between high school and college. Students typically find that the atmosphere is incredibly independent; students are expected, not asked, to keep up with their classes and complete assignments. The characteristics of the student body vary from campus to campus, but most are far more studious than any high school. Another difference is that interaction with peers is much easier in college than in high school. While you will find peer groups with common interests, you’re much less likely to come across the tight knit cliques of students that are so common in high school.
  • Class structure

    Group projects are out and class discussions are in—in college. Some classes will use them, but no where near as much as they were used in high school. The larger the class, the less interactive it tends to be. Small classes typically revolve around some combination of lecturing and group discussions, whereas large classes typically rely solely on lecture.
  • Work load

    You probably guessed this: the workload in college is significantly heavier than in high school. Expect a large amount of reading and a fair amount of writing, depending on your major. Clearly students working towards a bachelors of science write significantly less than students pursuing, let’s say, English for example. This may vary from the rule, but in my own experience, I found that for every one hour in a class I had to devote about 2 hours outside of the course to keep up with readings and other assignments.
  • Professor Student Relationships

    Professors and college students have a unique relationship. Unlike high school teachers, a professor enters a classroom filled with students who for the most part, all want to be there. They’ve paid their tuition and have a goal in mind and for such students college is likely the only thing that makes their goal possible. Very rarely do close friendships emerge from high school student-teacher relationships, but for college students and their professors, this is quite common. Professors won’t nag you about your homework, but they will make an effort to help you with course material that you might be struggling with.

The advisor for each of the high school clubs in which you hold a membership may be able to help you identify scholarship opportunities based on your extracurricular activities. A scholarship search that matches students with scholarship programs based on their activities can be an excellent resource for locating hard-to-find scholarships based on extracurricular activity participation.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Profane Professor Recorded Berating Student, Dropping F-Bomb

April 17, 2018

by Susan Dutca

A New Jersey community college professor allegedly shouted obscenities at a politically-conservative student during a sociology lecture on sexual harassment, which has ignited complaints about the college being a "liberal atmosphere where alternative political viewpoints are not tolerated." According to other students, this incident was "one of the many disagreements" that took place over the course of the semester. [...]

Gun-Toting College Girl Faces Backlash for Grad Photo

April 10, 2018

by Susan Dutca

Photo obtained by ABC News.

A gun-toting Tennessee college senior showed her support for President Trump and guns while holding her shirt up to reveal her handgun in her graduation photos to "show who [she is] as a person." The photo, which went viral on Twitter, gained both positive and negative feedback - some of which claimed she was "brandishing a firearm for a photo shoot or showing it off to try and look cool." [...]

Student Sends Flirtatious, Then Menacing Emails to Professor

April 3, 2018

by Susan Dutca

A professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz believed she was "unstalkable" up until a student of hers began sending messages that were at first flirtatious and ultimately turned to threats of rape and murder. Much of the #MeToo conversation in higher education revolves around educators who "harass" or "target" students; but some educators themselves actually become vulnerable to harassment by their own students and remain silent out of a sense of guilt, embarrassment, and often the fear of losing their jobs. [...]