Differences Between High School
& College

For most students the idea of college being much different from high school does not sink in until they have been on a college campus for a while and experienced the differences for themselves. What may seem like obvious differences to you may take a while for your student to realize. For example:

High School


  • Attendance required.
  • Teachers remind about homework and tests.
  • Studying is light—an hour a night.
  • Students’ lives are filled with activities.
  • Teachers provide grade and deadline reminders.
  • The class expectations are discussed in detail.
  • The school is open and staffed during set times.
  • Mastery is seen as the ability to reproduce what was taught.
  • Parents can access any information the school has about you.
  • Few professors require attendance.
  • Instructors expect more independent work.
  • Studying is key—two hours for every hour in class.
  • Involvement opportunities can be overwhelming.
  • Students keep up with their own grades.
  • The course syllabus is a contractual agreement.
  • Instructors post specific office hours.
  • Mastery is seen as the ability to apply what was learned to new situations and solve new problems.
  • Parents must have your permission to obtain information from the University.

Differences Between Community College
& Comprehensive University 

The transitions of a transfer student depend on the previous environment. Most transfer students’ transition to BU from a semester to two years at a community college. For many, the time spent at the community college has been more like an extension of high school than a true university experience. Usually these students have been living at home to save money and have had the full support of their family and many high school friends.

If this situation fits your student, his or her transition to BU will most likely be similar to that of an incoming freshman, minus the basic concerns about attending a college course.

Community College

Comprehensive University

  • Living close to family and friends provides built-in support.
  • Attendance may have been required.
  • Courses were at the lower division level (freshman & sophomore), requiring basic writing and memorization.
  • Material may have been presented on a need-to-know basis with few requirements for out-of-class analysis.
  • Time management is less complicated.
  • May be farther from home and existing support network.
  • Upper-division courses require more complex analysis, longer writing assignments and deeper level of understanding.
  • Coursework builds on foundation classes from the lower division; higher level of knowledge is expected.
  • Students are expected to do more work on their own, outside of class.
  • More opportunities for campus involvement and activities; closer attention to time management needed.