Study Tips: Preparing For College Courses

You’ve worked hard to get to where you are now. You studied long hours at your high school, passed the hardest classes, and learned how to impress even the toughest teachers with your work.

Now you are here, preparing to enter into a new season of learning: college. Going to college can bring a lot of new questions and confusion, especially after being so comfortable with your high school routine.

One of the hardest things that a lot of us face when first going to college is figuring out how to adjust to a new way of learning. There are many differences between high school and college courses, but if you are prepared for some of these changes, you can go into your freshman year of college with more confidence in your abilities.

Difference #1: Larger class sizes and less 1-on-1 time with the teacher

If you are going to be attending a university, chances are your classes are going to be much larger than what you’re used to. In a freshman course at a university, for example, a class can have up to 200-300 students in it.

Classes like these are set up to be more of a lecture and less of an interactive class like the ones you may have been used to in high school. Because of the larger class sizes, your professors may be harder to reach to ask any questions you may have. Most professors prefer you contact them during their office hours for extra help instead of after class. This is usually easy to do, you just have to be ready to take the step of contacting them.

With large lecture classes, it will be very tempting to use this class time for Snapchat or for just pushing snooze on your alarm and skipping class entirely. After all, your professor probably won’t notice if you’re distracted or absent if you’re one of 300 students. It is important to be aware of this temptation because you will not want to fall behind in your course.

Difference #2: Fewer hours inside of the classroom but more hours outside of it

Another big difference between classes in high school and college is the amount of time you actually spend in class. When you’re in high school, you usually go to school five days a week for about seven or eight hours a day, which equals about 40 hours a week in the classroom.

In college, however, a student might take four courses a semester that meet in class about four hours a week. At most, the average college student spends about 16 hours a week in the classroom.

It is important to be prepared for this difference because at first it might feel like a vacation. If you only have class from noon to 2:00 p.m., why not spend the rest of the day by the dorm pool? Unfortunately, it doesn't always work this way. In college, your professors are most likely going to require much more work and studying from you outside of the classroom. A college student might spend somewhere around five hours a day just doing homework and studying for exams, not including time spent going to class! If you’re prepared for this big change in classroom hours, you’ll be able to better adjust and create a schedule that works for you!

Difference #3: More independence

This might be the most important change that a college student goes through. When you become a college freshman, you may leave behind a lot of the support you got from your teachers and family. It is an exciting time and can be a huge time of growth for you.

When it comes to academics, gaining independence can be a tricky transition. In high school, your teachers usually assigned you homework every night with specific due dates in order to track your progress and send an accurate report card home every few months.

In college, professors expect more independence from you. It is common for a college professor to keep track of only your big exams and larger projects. There are rarely nightly homework assignments or ways of tracking your daily progress.

If you have a big exam in two months, it will be your job to make sure you’re studying regularly for it! Because of this, you will have to quickly learn how to hold yourself accountable for your learning. This independence will prepare you in ways you weren’t expecting, so it is good to be prepared for this major change.

College is a time of growth, change, and learning. You’ve come this far and are fully equipped for success in your new season. Hopefully being prepared for some of these changes will give you confidence in yourself as you adjust and transition.