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Postsecondary Education

A Point-by-Point Comparison

High School College
Personal Freedom
High school is mandatory and free College is voluntary and expensive
Others usually structure your time You manage your own time
You need permission to participate in extracurricular activities You must decide whether to participate in extracurricular activities (Hint: Choose wisely in the first semester and then add later.)
You need money for special purchases or events You need money to meet basic necessities
Help is readily available – you don’t need to seek out help. You must seek out help on your own. Accommodations must be requested well in advance – you can’t wait until the day of a test.
Staff talk freely with parents about student progress and planning. Staff cannot discuss you and your progress without written permission.
You can count on parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities and to guide you in setting priorities. Guiding principle: You’re old enough to take responsibility for what you do and don’t do, as well as for the consequences of your decisions.
Teachers check your completed homework. Instructors may not always check completed homework, but they assume you can perform the same tasks on tests.
Teachers remind you of your incomplete work. Instructors may not remind you of incomplete work.
Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance. Instructors are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.
Teachers are often available for conversation before, during, or after class. Instructors expect and want you to attend their scheduled office hours.
Mastery is usually seen as the ability to reproduce what you were taught in the form in which it was presented to you, or to solve the kinds of problems you were shown how to solve. Mastery is often seen as the ability to apply what you’ve learned to new situations or to solve new kinds of problems.
Grades are given for most assigned work. Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
Consistently good homework grades may help raise your overall grade when test grades are low. Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade.
Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not have an adverse effect on your final grade. Watch out for your first tests. These are usually “wake-up calls” to let you know what is expected – but they also may account for a substantial part of your course grade. You may be shocked when you get your grades.
You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher. You may graduate only if your average in classes meets the department standard – typically a 2.0 or C.
Guiding principle: “Effort counts.” Courses are usually structured to reward a “good-faith effort.” Guiding principle: “Results count.” Though “good-faith effort” is important to the instructor’s willingness to help you achieve good results, it will not substitute for results in the grading process.