To make a smooth transition, know what to expect and what is expected.

Share story

Transitioning from high school to college is exciting — you finally take ownership of your time, responsibilities, and who you want to become — but it can also feel overwhelming as you adjust to a new schedule, level of responsibility, set of expectations and teaching style.

To make a smooth transition, know what to expect and what is expected of you. Here are some basic differences between high school and college.


The amount and difficulty of work increases in college. College classes cover more material and delve deeper into subjects in a shorter amount of time, so developing college-level study skills is essential.

High school teachers present material straight from the textbook, calling out what information is important to learn. Professors generally don’t follow the textbook. They expect you’ll read the assigned chapters and use what you’ve read as a framework for understanding their class lecture. It’s up to students to identify the important points and take comprehensive notes.


High schoolers learn most material and complete assignments during class. In college, a lot of learning is done on your own time. For every one credit hour you enroll, plan to spend two to three hours outside of class studying or doing homework.

High school teachers will remind you of assignment due dates. Professors expect you’ll read and reference the class syllabus, which lays out expectations and when assignments are due.

Teacher/student relationship

High school teachers will approach students they think need help. Professors expect students who want help will take initiative to approach them during their office hours.

Time management

High schoolers’ time and priorities are generally managed by parents and teachers. College students set their own schedules and are in charge of managing them in a way that ensures all their responsibilities get met.


High school counselors make sure students take classes necessary for graduation and point students toward school resources they may need. College students must initiate a relationship with their advising office to make sure they’re on track to complete their degree. College students are also on their own to find campus resources like tutoring centers, coaching and counseling.

College is fun! But students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning and assume an active attitude toward their education and their relationships with faculty and campus support services.

Learn more at