My College:

High School vs. College

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Here are a few examples of important differences between high school and college to discuss with your student.

Teacher-Student Interactions

High School

  • Teachers typically approach students if they need help
  • Teachers are often available for conversations before, during, and after class


  • Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect the student to initiate contact if they need help
  • Professors expect (and want) students to attend their scheduled office hours or reach out via email

High School:

  • Classes typically have no more than 35 students
  • Teachers carefully monitor class attendance


  • Classes may range from
  • 15–100+ students in a lecture hall
  • Professors may not formally take roll, but they still likely know whether or not students attended

High School:

  • Students may need to spend 1–2 hours per day completing homework or studying
  • Students rely on listening in class and have limited reading assignments outside of class


  • Students need to study at least 2–3 hours outside of class for each hour in class
  • Students need to take notes in class and review notes and other course materials regularly

High School:

  • Teachers remind students of due dates and incomplete work
  • Good homework grades may raise a student’s overall grades when test grades are low


  • Professors might go over due dates at the beginning of the semester and then rely on students to check the syllabus the rest of the time
  • Grades on tests and papers usually provide most of the course grade

University of North Carolina Wilmington

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