March 4, 2013
need-in-college

What You Didn’t Need in High School but DO Need in College

As I have watched my son adjust to high school, I find myself comparing his high school experience with what I see every day here at FRCC. Even though you learn plenty in high school that will serve you well in college, I can think of a few things that you might not have taken seriously in high school that you will definitely need for college!

Take Responsibility

There are fewer opportunities for earning extra credit and talking your way into a better grade. And because classes meet less frequently, you are expected to do more work out of class. In fact, you will usually need to study at least 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour you spend in class.

Take Notes

You might not have had to take notes in high school, but in college your teacher might lecture nonstop, making notes a necessity. Whatever he or she writes on the board may or may not be a summary. It’s up to you to figure out the important points.

Don’t Cram

College exams often cover more material – you can’t learn that in one night.

Do the Reading

Maybe you got by without reading in high school, but in college it’s important to read your textbook and review your class notes. Sometimes you are reading things that are never discussed in class, but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant or important.

Do your Homework

Homework is often key to understanding the material…but don’t expect it to have a big impact on your grade. It’s usually tests and major papers that count in college.

Go to Class

Even though your instructor may not formally take attendance, he or she is probably keeping track, and it can affect your grade and/or your financial aid. But more importantly, most people learn best when they engage multiple senses in learning. So hearing the material in class, then reading it (or better yet, reading it before class) will make learning a lot easier.

Read the Syllabus (carefully!)

College instructors don’t always remind you about assignments and deadlines. Get familiar with the details of your course syllabus, consult it often, and ask if you have questions.

Even if you were a successful high school student (whether last spring or decades ago), you may reach a point in college where your old habits and techniques just don’t cut it. If that happens, ask for help. Our instructors have weekly office hours and our student services staff are always available to talk with you about adjusting to college.

What’s been your experience? What’s been the biggest difference between college and high school for you?

About the author:

Andy Dorsey is the President of Front Range Community College. He joined FRCC in 1993, teaching psychology and economics and earning Master Teacher honors in 1999. Before becoming an educator, he worked as a project manager in two businesses, non-profit manager, and legislative director for a Congressman.

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