College and high school share the same common goal: teaching students to learn. But the truth is, there are a lot of differences between college and high school. In fact, college and high school are completely different experiences. And the list goes deeper than the no-duh: many students (although not all) live at colleges and universities and none (with the exception of those who go to boarding school) live at high school.
Most students who go to college choose to be there. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but for the most part, people aren't writing thousands of dollars' worth of checks to a college if they don't want to be there. So, those kids in high school who ditched school or spent the school day smoking behind the dumpster probably won't be attending college.
One of the biggest changes between high school and college is attendance. In high school, kids are penalized for missing class. At least at my high school, we were only allowed to miss a certain number of days. Some teachers at universities count attendance, but the truth is most don't. A lot of professors couldn't care less if a student shows up for class, although a lot of professors offer extra credit or will bump grades from Bs to As for students who attended class every day. There are even some classes where the attendance of a certain class doubles, maybe triples, on test dates.
In high school, I was swamped with busy work — stupid homework sheets that I had to do counted toward my final grade. Many college classes don't assign busy work. The only homework the entire semester (plus maybe a paper or two) is to read the text book. (And frankly, most students don't even do that). Although, this is nice and saves a lot of time and leaves more time for a social life, that also means tests are worth more.
There's a lot of relearning. A lot of my classes in my freshman year consisted of the same material I took in high school. I took a couple of AP classes in high school (but I didn't take the tests exempting me from the college courses) but even some stuff I learned in regular classes was repeated for me in college. One of my college textbooks was even the same text book I used in an honors course during my freshman year of high school! That being said, the way I learned the material in high school was different than in college. Most college courses are lecture courses. The professor lectures for an hour and 15 minutes. In high school, there are a lot more worksheets to be done.
Class sizes can be much larger in college. In high school, the maximum size was about 36. In college, although some of my classes had around 20 students, classes could be as large as 100! Amazingly enough, the professors still seemed to learn everyone's name.
Professors have office hours in college. They set aside a couple hours a week at the same time when students can visit them and ask questions. A few teachers at my high school did this, but most didn't. A lot of people use office hours and say it's a good resource. It is a good way for a professor to get to know a student, I suppose.
I've had three classes (in two semesters) that had online tests. I had never even heard of them in high school. Online tests are nice, because they are open book and students don't have to take them at a set time. I guess high schools don't have the resources to have online tests? Or maybe some do? Not sure.
Maybe a lot of people would disagree with me on this, but I honestly believe that college students are more mature. Yes, the "That's What She Said" joke is still funny, although I still don't understand why. In high school, a lot of students had no respect for the teachers. There are a lot of bad stories, but if I taught at my old high school and those kids treated me like they treated my old high school teachers, I'd cry every day. In college, even if students dislike their professors, they don't disrespect them.
There are a lot more classes offered in college. I go to a big university (36,000 people — bigger than my home town) so we have a lot of options. There's a lot of cultural programs (Chicano Studies, Pan African Studies, Jewish Studies, Asian American Studies, etc.) and classes to fit certain majors (journalism and film, for example).
I'll tell you the best part about college: I don't have any morning classes. In high school, I'd wake up at 6:45 a.m. every day and the only reason I got to school on time is because I have a twin sister and I could drive and she couldn't, so she would wake me up. The idea of waking up so early now horrifies me. That's the best difference between high school and college. I have no classes before 11 (and even 11 a.m. classes are too early for me). I took a night class, which wasn't that bad. Yeah, 8 a.m. classes are offered at my university, but I have the option not to take them.
So, for those entering college in the fall, it is a big change. There are a lot of differences. But, college is better, I promise.