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Quick Guide: Differences Between High School and College (free pdf)

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

The key to college success, particularly in the first year of college, is helping your student understand and navigate the new systems of college. High school students don't know what they don't know so it's the job of teachers, school counselors, and families to clearly explain the new systems at college that your student will be encountering. There are great resources online to help with this important conversation.

I particularly like the Macalester College (Saint Paul, MN) website that identifies the many ways that high school and college are different:

  • Class structure

  • Responsibility (school vs. student)

  • Succeeding in class

  • Relationship with teachers vs. Professors

  • Tests and Exams

CLICK HERE to access a website that can help your students understand the new systems that will be present in college and how college differs from high school.

CLICK BELOW to download a free interactive worksheet that can be used by educators or families to start conversations with their students.

Download PDF • 66KB

Remember: be explicit about explaining the differences to your student. Don't assume that a school staff member such as a special education teacher, transition coordinator or school counselor will have this conversation. In fact, school staff may be assuming that families are having this conversation! Use the worksheets above to start a conversation with your student and don't stop after only one conversation. College and universities can be complicated systems, but trust me, the time you invest now is time well spent!

For additional free resources and printable pdf worksheets, visit my Free Resources and Videos page.

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