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All best wishes to YOU

Last week, I wrote about what not to do in college. Since then, I’ve seen a couple of noteworthy web items that deal with the chasm (yes, it can be a chasm) of difference between high school and college. Read on for a few pennies for thought regarding intro or core courses, time management, and general course policies . . .

First, I ran across a pretty good article on zinch.com’s More Than a Test Score blog (8/28/12, via Teen Life) titled “7 Ways College Classes Differ from High School Classes.” It contains solid advice, though I have comments on a couple of the points.

First, they refer to “intro courses” thus:

“Once the intro courses are out of the way, you start to focus on the classes you really want to take . . .”

. . . my advice? Never say you are trying to get a certain course “out of the way” to a professor – and consider changing your philosophy a bit if you truly do view any course as something to “get out of the way.” I’ve taught a core course, English Composition, for years and while students may not all enjoy it, to call it something “to get out of the way” implies the class is undesirable and perhaps even a silly or irrelevant hoop through which you must jump. On the contrary, the core or “intro” courses are designed to give you a solid foundation for the courses that come afterwards.  So soak up the knowledge and skills they offer!

Also, they recommend “Try to dedicate around 2 hours every night to studying.”

That’s okay if you’re enrolled in just one three-credit-hour class – one that meets 2 ½ hours a week.

When planning college study time, consider this very good formula that’s been handed down through wisdom of the ages: commit about 3 hours outside of class for each hour inside of class – so, for that three-credit-hour class, you’d spend 7 ½ hours a week in study (10 hours a week total on subject Q).

If you’re enrolled in 15 credit hours, therefore, plan to study as if it were your full-time job (which actually, if you’re a college student, it is). 15 credit hours means (applying the above formula) 37.5 hours of studying per week outside of class. That’s on average – some weeks may require less, some even more time . . . but when you’re a full-time student, you need to be a full-time student (underestimating study time sinks many an academic ship).

Another article I read this week was aimed at college faculty: “This Isn’t High School: Advice for Faculty Teaching First-Year Students” (Faculty Focus, Mary Bart, 8/27/12). It mentions that first-year students may be used to very different academic policies in high school – perhaps regarding extra credit, late or re-done work, and class absences.

If you are or have recently been a high school student, please be aware: many college profs don’t offer extra credit, and in fact don’t believe in it on principle; they may or may not allow late work, but if it is allowed, it often brings a penalty of some sort; and class absences may count against you. In other words, truly, to echo that article’s title, “this isn’t high school.” The good news: you won’t have to guess about policies for a particular class. All these issues should be covered in the class syllabus, so be sure to read it carefully and keep it on hand throughout the semester!

Image via mrg.bz / gleangenie

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