Top 7 Ways High School Hasn’t Prepared You for College

By Meilan Solly

7. Financial Literacy

In college, students must take out loans in order to pay for their education. According to USA TODAY, the average outstanding balance for a borrower with student debt is $27,547. 1 in 8 graduates have over $50,000 in debt.

Although Loudoun County recently added a required personal finance/economics class, students across the nation do not have the same advantage. While college tuition remains the same despite students’ level of financial literacy, an increased overall knowledge of personal finance helps students manage loans and survive economic stress after graduation.

How can you prepare on your own? If possible, take any economics or finance class offered through your school. If you cannot do this, buy a book that will help you become financially literate, or search for helpful websites online.

6. Cheating and plagiarism

The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics reported that 59% of high school students admitted to cheating on a test in the past year, while a Rutgers University study found that only 17% of college undergraduates admitted to cheating on tests.

Cheating is widespread in high school, but it often goes unnoticed and unpunished. When students are punished for cheating, the consequences can range from suspension to an F on an assignment. In college, however, cheating or plagiarism goes on students’ academic records and can also lead to expulsion.

How can you prepare on your own? Stop cheating and plagiarizing! Learn how to develop your own thoughts, and build enough confidence in them that you do not even feel the need to cheat.

5. Social strata

From elementary school to high school, most students remain with the same group of peers, meaning popularity and stereotyping are common themes. In college, however, students are exposed to a much wider range of personalities. Partly due to the fact that there are simply more people, cliques cease to exist, instead simply leaving behind groups of people who are passionate about the same thing, whether it be drama or science.

How can you prepare on your own? Focus less on how your peers perceive you and more on embracing the real you.

4. Note-taking

Note-taking in high school basically consists of students copying their teachers’ Powerpoints word-for-word. In college, however, most professors do not provide complete sets of notes. Instead, they give lectures and assign readings which students are responsible for combining on their own to create notes.

How can you prepare on your own? Stop directly copying your teachers’ Powerpoints. Look at the slide, then summarize in your own words — don’t waste time writing information you already know. Also, listen to what your teachers are saying and write down any additional information.

3. Teachers

Whereas in high school students have teachers, in college they have professors. Teachers offer structured lessons during class time, usually by going over homework or offering one-on-one help with classwork. Also, teachers take an active role in ensuring their students’ success by following up with students when they are absent or seem like they need extra assistance. Professors, on the other hand, usually spend their classes lecturing. While professors do want their students to succeed, most expect students to take responsibility and seek guidance on their own during office hours.

How can you prepare on your own? Don’t wait for teachers to approach you if you need help. Take initiative and start becoming more independent.

2. Grades

In Loudoun County, it is very easy for students to have high GPAs. AP and honors classes are weighted, but even without weighting students can boost their grades with homework points, extra credit, and test corrections/re-takes. Also, students have access to their grades 24/7, a fact which leads to an emphasis on letter grades rather than actual retention of information. This is a drastic difference from college, where grades consist mainly of two or three major test grades. Also, in college there are no test corrections/re-takes or extra credit, and professors are not likely to change your grade just because you can’t stand having a B.

How can you prepare on your own? Understand that your grades in college will be determined by your tests. Think about what your current grades would be like if this was the case in high school, and realize that relying on homework to pad your grades won’t work for very long.

1. Independence

The biggest difference between high school and college is the level of independence given to students. In high school, students are responsible for their own success to a certain extent, but parents and teachers offer a lot of help too. In college, students are responsible for themselves for the first time. Outside of class, students can set their own schedule – when to study, go out, participate in clubs, etc. In class, students must decide how to take notes, how to balance assignments (which are usually listed on a syllabus given out the first day of class), and what to study.

How can you prepare on your own? Get a job, don’t rely on your parents to check up on your grades and homework progress, and start taking more responsibility.

Additional sources: About.com, studentadvisor.com, educationspace360.com