3 Major Ways College and High School Classes Differ


College and high school classes differ in more ways than you might imagine. Everything from the cost to the pace of the class will be new in college. Let’s take a look at the three major ways college and high school classes contrast:

Class size
In high school, there may have been anywhere from 10-30 students in the classes you took. In higher education, class size depends very much on the type of institution one attends.

The average class size of small liberal arts colleges may not be too different from that of most high schools. In fact, you may even experience smaller classes in college, especially if you are taking an unusual upper-division or highly specialized course. In the case of extremely large colleges and state universities, class sizes may reach well over 100 students! In required and popular beginner-level courses, such as Biology 101 or Introduction to Psychology, packed lecture halls are expected.

This may be a drastic change if you come from a tight-knit high school where everyone knows each other. But do not fret; you can make new friends and find study buddies who can help make the class feel more personal. Also, keep in mind that class size tends to diminish as you progress further and further in your degree track.

Course materials
High school textbooks are often handed out by teachers during the first or second day of class. In college, however, it is solely the student’s responsibility to finance and obtain said textbooks. College students can acquire textbooks however they prefer – through their university bookstore, Amazon’s webpage, etc.

High schools usually designate just one or two textbooks to be used in each class; but in college, it is typical for professors to have students purchase two, three, or maybe four textbooks depending on the class. For science lab classes, it may be required to purchase goggles, lab manuals, and other materials, in addition to course texts. English classes may require students to purchase several novels to read over the course of the semester.

Note-taking methods
For most students, it would be unthinkable to open up a laptop at the beginning of a high school class. Such behavior is common in college, however. Nowadays, more and more college professors allow their students to use a laptop, tablet, voice recorder, or another electronic device to assist with note-taking during lecture. Most professors prohibit the use of cell phones though, as those can become too distracting.

One of the reasons most professors do not mind the use of electronics is that students can then focus their efforts better on other tasks, such as listening intently and participating actively. Not having to write with a pen and paper frees up time for reflecting on course material, asking questions, and responding to classmates’ comments.

Now that you know more about the nature of college classes, you are a little more ready for your university years!

Written by Tiffany Sorensen. Tiffany is a professional tutor with Varsity Tutors, the leading curated marketplace for the top private tutors in the U.S. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language & Literature from Stony Brook University.

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