High school is mandatory and free (unless you choose other options).

College is voluntary and expensive.

Others usually structure your time.

You manage your own time.

You need permission to participate in extracurricular activities.

You must decide whether to participate in extracurricular activities. (Hint: Choose wisely in the first semester and then add later.)

You need money for special purchases or events.

You need money to meet basic necessities.


Help is readily available – you don’t need to seek out help.

You must seek out help on your own.  Accommodations must be requested well in advance – you can’t wait until the day of a test.

Staff talk freely with parent about student progress and planning.

Staff cannot discuss you and your progress without you written permission.

You can count on parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities and to guide you in setting priorities.

Guiding principle:  You’re old enough to take responsibility for what you do and don’t do, as well as for the consequences of your decisions.


Teachers check your completed homework.

Instructors may not always check completed homework, but they will assume you can perform the same tasks on tests.

Teachers remind you of your incomplete work.

Instructors may not remind you of incomplete work.

Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance.

Instructors are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.

Teachers are often available for conversation before, during, or after class.

Instructors expect and want you to attend their scheduled office hours.


Teachers have been trained in teaching methods to assist in imparting knowledge to students.

Instructors have been trained as experts in their particular areas.

Teachers present material to help you understand the material in the textbook.

Instructors may not follow the textbook.  Instead, to amplify the text, they may give illustrations, provide background information, or discuss research about the topic you are studying.  Or, they may expect you to relate the classes to the textbook readings.

Teachers often write information on the board to be copied in your notes.

Instructors may lecture nonstop, expecting you to identify the important points in your notes. When instructors write on the board, it may be to amplify the lecture, not to summarize it.  Good notes are a must.

Teachers impart knowledge and facts, sometimes drawing direct connections and leading you through the thinking process.

Instructors expect you to think about and synthesize seemingly unrelated topics.

Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates.

Instructors expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.


Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material.

Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material.  You, not the instructor, need to organize the material to prepare for the test.  A particular course may have only 2 or 3 tests in a semester.

Makeup tests are often available.

Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, you need to request them.

Teachers frequently rearrange test dates to avoid conflict with school events.

Instructors in different courses usually schedule tests without regard to the demands of other courses or outside activities.

Teachers frequently conduct review sessions, pointing out the most important concepts.

Instructors rarely offer review sessions, and when they do, they expect you to be an active participant, one who comes prepared with questions.

TESTS (cont’d)

Mastery is usually seen as the ability to reproduce what you were taught in the form in which it was presented to you, or to solve the kinds of problems you were shown how to solve.

Master is often seen as the ability to apply what you’ve learned to new situations or to solve new kinds of problems.


Grades are given for most assigned work.

Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.

Consistenly good homework grades may help raise your overall grade when test grades are low.

Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade.

Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not have an adverse effect on your final grade.

Watch out for your first tests.  These are usually “wake-up calls” to let you know what is expected – but they also may account for a substantial part of your course grade.  You may be shocked when you get your grades.

You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher.

You may graduate only if your average in classes meets the department standard – typically a 2.0 or C.

Guiding principle:  “Effort counts.”  Courses are usually structured to reward a “good-faith effort.”

Guiding principle:  “Results count.”  Though “good-faith effort” is important in regard to the instructor’s willingness to help you achieve good results, it will not substitute for results in the grading process.