Many students, especially those who do not have a family member who has been to college, think college is pretty much like high school, only bigger. There are some very big differences. Some students who did not do well in high school “blossom” in college. Others have a more difficult time adjusting to college life and do not do as well as they did in high school.
To be prepared, it helps you to know what differences lie ahead. Though academic requirements and student life vary depending on the college you attend, there are basic differences that apply in almost every case. Here are some ways you can expect college to be different from high school:
Because you will probably be over 18 years old in college, you will be treated like an adult. This is because you will be an adult. As an adult, you will have to make sure you do what you're supposed to do, you will be responsible for the way you live, and you will have to meet greater expectations from others.
In college, you will take on more responsibility for your decisions, actions, and lifestyle. This is part of being on your own. Be prepared to be held accountable for your behavior. There is no one to blame for not waking up on time, not eating properly, or not washing your clothes.
People will expect more of you and expect you to develop in your own unique way in college. Some people will expect you to go beyond the minimal standard expected in high school, so you can grow and develop as a person. You will also begin to realize what a great effect you can have on yourself and others.
Different Ways of Teaching
Some subjects are taught differently in college. In high school, for instance, history may have been mainly names, dates, and places. You had to memorize facts and figures. In college, those facts are not nearly as important as why certain events and actions happened. In college English, less time may be spent on grammar and spelling (it is assumed you have mastered these) and more on writing creatively and criticizing literature. If you major in one of the sciences, you will find that in your junior and senior years, you may be designing your own experiments rather than doing exactly what everyone else in your class is doing. In foreign languages, you will be reading literature in its original language.
Be open to falling in love with a subject in college that you may have disliked in high school. Two-thirds of college students graduate with a different major than the one they had in mind when they started -- often because they found an old subject taught in a new and more interesting way.
Different ways of Learning
Many classes will be organized differently from high school. Some will be big lecture classes followed by small discussion groups. Some professors will have you read books, write papers, and discuss both in class. Grading will be different, too. In some classes, you will have nothing but essay tests. In others, your entire grade will be determined by a single large paper or project. You may even have classes in which a group project is the primary grade.
Different level of Competition
In high school, you are often graded on whether you learn certain things. For example, there are standardized tests given to show that you have achieved a minimum level in certain subjects. In college, you are often graded “on the curve;” your grade is determined more by how well you did in relation to your classmates than on a minimum knowledge base. This means there is more one-on-one competition between students. For example, receiving an 85 percent on a test in high school may have automatically been a B. In college, if most people did better than that, it could be a C or C-.
You may have been in the top 10 or 15 percent of your high school class, but at college many of your fellow students were also in the top 10 or 15 percent of their high school classes and earning a high grade point average will take more effort.
Different day to day
High school is a place you go seven or eight hours a day, less than half the days of the year. Many colleges are set up to be your home--you will eat and sleep there, make new friends there, even do your laundry there. Therefore, chances are good that college will have an even greater effect on you than high school did. In fact, it will be a time in your life like no other.
Source: Adapted from Anne Arundel Community College – www.aacc.edu
What You Need to Know
We understand that selecting a program of study (major) is a big and often confusing decision. We would like to help you select courses that fit well with your future plans and are committed to helping you explore interests, values, and personality types and to discover majors and occupations that you will find interesting and rewarding.
When Must I Decide On a Major?
If you are an undeclared, degree-seeking student, you are required to select a major by the time you have completed your sophomore year.
What Do I Do?
There are many activities and resources to help you make this important decision.
- Read the undergraduate college catalog for descriptions of the different curricula and programs.
- Every Harding University student who intends to graduate must take a core group of Liberal Arts courses. If you are unsure about choosing a major, we suggest you begin taking courses from the list of Liberal Arts courses, since you are going to need those courses to graduate. During the time you are taking the Liberal Arts courses, you may decide to take one or two classes in a major that sounds interesting, which may help you decide on a major.
- Contact the Academic Advising Center to schedule an appointment to get more in formation and assistance with career counseling, interest testing, etc.
- Access information via the internet to learn more about majors, careers, etc.
- Get some work experience (i.e. part-time, summer, or seasonal) in your areas of interest.
- Talk to advanced students who are majoring in the areas you are considering.
- Talk to department heads, program coordinators and faculty in all the major areas you are considering.
- Talk to people currently employed in the areas you are considering.
Source: Adapted from Anne Arundel Community College – www.aacc.edu
Before coming for your appointment:
- Review Harding’s undergraduate catalog, reading about academic and graduation requirements and course descriptions to learn about the variety of courses, and programs of study available.
- Think about how many semesters you plan to be here. Do your plans include taking classes during the summer and/or the two week intersession period?
- Think about how many classes you will take during the semester. Many experts recommend to be most effective, students should consider spending two to three hours of study/research, per class, each week outside of class time.
- Obtain a schedule of classes, or view the courses offered on Harding’s web site.
- Attempt to construct your schedule, based first, on courses you are required to take as a new, first-time-in-college freshmen. For example, all freshmen are required to take BNEW 111 (Gospels) during the fall Semester and BNEW 113 (Acts through Revelations) during the spring semester. Sophomores are required to take BOLD 203 (Genesis through Esther) during the fall semester and BOLD 207 (Job through Malachi) during the spring semester. (Transfer students who enroll in Harding with less than 27 hours on their transcript are also required to take the same Bible classes as incoming freshmen and sophomores). This means that students enrolling at Harding have their first four semesters of Bible classes decided: BNEW 111, BNEW 113, BOLD 203, BOLD 207. Select your Bible class first and build your other classes around it.
Please bring the following items to your appointment:
- A list of questions you wish to ask.
- Official transcripts from other colleges if you have not submitted them to the Office of the Registrar.
- A copy of your official ACT or SAT scores.
- A willingness to be open and share your concerns and areas of interest with your advisor.