Transition to College Study

College coursework and study will be different from high school classes and study. College will be more than acquiring information; college will help you learn how to learn for a lifetime. Learning how to learn will develop critical thinking skills that prepare you to research, identify, and analyze information in a variety of content areas and life situations. You will be challenged to think for yourself. Your mind will be opened and broadened with new perspectives and ideas from professors, classmates and friends. You will strengthen your thinking skills from experiences both in and out of the classroom. The skills you develop will affect how you live your life in the career that lies ahead and in your personal life.

Decide now to avoid the roadblocks to developing your thinking skills, things like:

  • Lack of Goals
  • Procrastination
  • Poor Class Attendance
  • Being unprepared for class
  • Making Excuses
  • Blaming others for your mistakes
  • Lack of Priorities
  • Poor self-discipline

Instead, recognize that you have a great opportunity before you and make the best of it. Students that excel have learned that self-discipline and making wise decisions go hand-in-hand. These students understand that the choices they make have consequences. They have found the balance between academics, co-curricular activities, fun and friends. They have mastered the transition from high school to college.

Read through the following lists to compare the differences between high school and college. Be aware of the changes you are about to encounter as you further your education.




Parents monitor when you sleep, what you eat, and getting to school on time.

Total freedom for those students living away from home; usually a relaxed freedom for those who remain at home and attend college.

Teachers tell you what to study, how to study and when to study.

Professors expect you to know what to study, how to study and when to study.

A schedule of classes is created for you.

You create your own schedule with options for day, evening, internet and distance learning classes.

Students attend classes daily.

Students attend classes every other day or once per week.

Daily interaction with teachers provides a better opportunity for teachers to get to know you and for you to get to know them.

Less frequent classes make it more challenging for professors to get to know you and for you to get to know them.  Students who stop by during professor's office hours to discuss class material often establish better rapport with their professors.

Teachers provide daily and weekly instructions on assignments and upcoming tests.

Professors distribute a syllabus in class or post one on their websites outlining assignments, papers, projects and exams for the entire semester.

Teachers cover small amounts of material and test frequently.

Professors cover large amounts of material, hold you responsible for reading the textbook, and test less frequently.

Cramming the night before a test can earn you an A or B.

Cramming the night before a test might get you a C, but it could also result in failing the test.

Students sometimes rely on parents and teachers to motivate them.

Students make decisions about what they want out of life and motivate themselves.


Good advice for a great start:

  1. Identify one or two places conducive to studying. This means no loud music, television or talking that would distract you. Noise limits your ability to concentrate and causes you to take more time to get your work done. You should be able to get comfortable, but not so comfortable that you fall asleep. Make sure the lighting is adequate since eye strain causes physical discomfort.
  2. Establish a schedule for studying and stick to it. College students should study 2 hours for every hour spent in class. This may seem like a lot of study time but it will benefit you in several ways. It will eliminate the need to cram or panic over assignments and tests. If you have difficulty with the material, you have time to seek help from your professor or a tutor in the Advising Center. Finally, it will help you achieve the best grade possible and give you the feeling that you did your best.
  3. Study at the time of day when you are most alert.
  4. Take advantage of breaks between classes. If you review information that has just been covered in class, you increase your retention rate significantly.
  5. Organize and review your class notes within 24 hours after class. You will remember more information from class and can add additional information to your notes.