Chapter 1: The Introduction

1.3 What to Expect in College

Charlotte Morgan

Knowing what to expect now that you are in college is helpful in changing the way you view school.

Here are some of the things you can expect to find in college:

  • The need for personal responsibility.
  • Use of an agenda or planner.
  • Varying class sizes.
  • Less time in class and more emphasis on independent study.
  • Strong emphasis on tests and less busywork.
  • The need for critical thinking skills.
  • Consequences.

In college, it is your responsibility to have everything you need for the first day of school. This includes learning your way around on campus to purchasing your textbooks and parking pass. Every aspect of your academic career from learning how to read a textbook, to finding out about available resources for students, is your responsibility.

It is best to use a manual planner or an app on your phone. You will need it to manage your time. Some courses require more work than others and you will need to keep track of when your assignments are due. Taking your planner to class each session and keeping it updated is a reasonable expectation for success. Not adopting this habit is a sure way to poor mid-term and final grades.

There will be times you are in a small classroom of 15 and in your next class, you are in a lecture hall with 200 students. This means learning to adapt to your professors different teaching styles. You must learn how to take notes.

You will spend more time working independently in college and this may mean group work outside of the classroom.

  • Complete your part of the assignment and do it well.
  • Accept that everyone is different and be open to new ideas.
  • Communicate! Discuss in advance what everyone is expected to do.
  • Exchange contact information (phone number and email addresses).
  • Hold meetings to check for understanding, and to monitor group progress.
  • Finally, have a positive attitude, and support the other group members.

Your professors work hard to develop assignments to assess your grasp of the concepts being taught and you should resist the temptation to compare things to high school or to think you are more knowledgeable.

There will be an emphasis on test taking and less of the high school busy work you might have experienced. In order to do well on any test or exam, you have to study hard and be prepared. But you can further improve your test performance by using test-taking strategies.

You will hear the term “critical thinking” over and over from your professors. Critical thinking is a core skill that you will develop. Simplified, it means wondering why these things are so. You should embrace being skeptical about everything concept presented. To learn, we read, research and write about what we have learned.

Finally, there are consequences for your actions in college.  They follow you on your transcript as you apply for jobs. This is what truly the collegiate experience from high school.


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