Expectations for a College Classroom

College is quite different from high school in terms of student responsibility, academic environment, and resources and support. Understanding these differences is one of the important keys to a successful transition.

College is quite different from high school in terms of student responsibility, academic environment, and resources and support. Understanding these differences is one of the important keys to a successful transition.

Student Responsibility

High School
"Teacher Supported"
"Student Directed"
High schools and teachers require attendance. Successful students attend all classes although attendance may not be required.
Teachers remind students of assignments, tests and make-up work. Students complete assignments and take tests on time.
Teachers tell students what to learn. Successful students determine what to learn and know how to study using their own learning styles.
Teachers summarize main ideas, outline notes, provide study guides and formulate questions. Successful students use effective textbook reading skills to learn content, take effective notes and study them regularly, create their own study guides, and generate questions/answers from varying perspectives.
Teachers guide research and the location of information. Successful students possess library and Internet research skills.
Teachers give students supplementary information. Successful students seek background information/supplementary resources.
Teachers monitor student performance by providing grade sheets. Successful students monitor their own performance and set improvement goals.
Teachers discipline inappropriate talking in class. Teachers do not tolerate inappropriate talking in class.
Teachers usually require less outside studying than college. Successful students study 2-3 hours for each one hour of class time.
Teachers provide in-class study time and students often study with distractions. Successful students use study areas on campus and create a study area at home.
Others schedule a student's time for classes, sports and work. Successful students must develop personal time management systems for classes, study time, work and social life.
Students often choose elective courses based on interest. Successful students choose courses based on program, degree or transfer requirements.

Academic Environment

High School —
"Student Focused"
College —
"Content Focused"
Teachers give short lectures that often duplicate reading assignments. Teachers present extended lectures that supplement assigned readings.
High school classes are usually limited to 30 or fewer students. College classes are usually larger with 40 - 100+ students.
High school classes meet daily. College classes meet 2-3 times per week.
Teachers provide necessary background knowledge. Teachers assume students have background knowledge and skills.
Teachers focus student learning with questions. Teachers expect students to generate questions.
Teachers cover all content in class. Students are responsible for all material whether or not it is presented in class.
Teachers provide organization. Students must have systems of organization for assignments, notes and handouts (notebooks/folders).

Resources and Support

High School —
"Teacher/Parent Directed/Structured"
College —
"Student Directed/Structured"
Students have daily contact with teachers and receive regular feedback. Successful students have limited contact with teachers and must seek feedback.
Teachers and parents direct academic accommodations and services for students with special needs. Successful students seek out academic accommodations and special assistance.
Teachers provide extra help. Successful students seek out peer tutoring and further academic assistance during instructor office hours.
Friends and family support students. Students may not be in contact with a family support system and need to create a new support system.
Teachers usually give structured assignments with explicit directions. Successful students organize and interpret assignments and conduct research independently.
Teachers often use T/F, multiple-choice and short-answer test formats. Teachers give complex exam questions requiring analysis, application and synthesis of ideas and theories using multiple-choice and essay formats.
Teachers give frequent tests and provide make-up tests and retakes. Teachers give fewer tests (2-3 per semester) and generally do not allow for make-ups or retakes.
Grades are based on quality, completion and effort given to all assignments. Grades reflect the quality of the product and adherence to college-level thinking and writing.
Teachers offer extra-credit opportunities to improve grades. Teachers may not offer extra credit.

This content was developed by the Minnesota Association for Developmental Education.