Major Differences Between High School and College

The adjustment from high school to college can be difficult for some people. UW-Platteville Counseling Services is available to help students understand this transition and assist in making the adjustment easier.  Here are some examples of differences between high school and college.

Teacher/Student Contact

High School: The contact between teachers and students is closer and more frequent (five days/week).
College: Contact between professors and students is less frequent (one to three times/week in the classroom); other meetings need to be scheduled.


High School: Academic requirements are not as demanding. Most assignments completed at school or within short periods of time at home.
College: Academics are more demanding and more difficult. Most classes require several hours of homework each week in order to complete assignments. Effective college level study skills are critical to success.


High School: Friendships are established through neighborhood, school and community involvement over a period of years.
College: Students are in a new situation where there is little, if any, carryover of friendships and requires meeting new people and establishing new relationships.


High School: Counseling is usually initiated by teachers or guidance counselors with parental contact available.
College: Counseling must be sought by students and is focused on personal, academic or career issues. Parents are usually not involved.


High School: Students are told what to do in most situations. Follow-up on instructions is often the rule.
College: Students are on their own, requiring self-discipline, organization and time management. No one will follow-up or check on them.


High School: Students receive incentive to achieve or participate usually from parents and teachers.
College: Students must supply their own motivation. No one will remind them or require them to do assignments.


High School: Students’ activities are monitored and restricted by school, community and parental standards.
College: Students have much more freedom with little outside control and must accept responsibility for their own actions.


High School: There are distractions from school and community responsibilities, but these are partially controlled by school and home.
College: Many more distractions occur with many more temptations to neglect academic demands; many more opportunities are available to become involved in social activities.


High School: Students usually make decisions based on parental values or have decisions made for them.
College: Exposure to diverse value systems may challenge students’ existing value system. Decisions are made without as much outside influence/guidance.


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