Transitioning from High School to College

Know your rights and responsibilities. Learn more »

Please see below regarding the differences between high school and college.

Legal Basis for Services
 High School  College
  • The primary law = Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); Americans with Disabilities Act; and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act also apply. 
  • School districts provide free identification of students with disabilities and follow the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process to establish educational services, setting, and goals.
  • The proposed outcomes, evaluation criteria, and instructional methodologies may be modified.
  •  The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973 apply.  Colleges may not discriminate in recruitment, admissions or participation in programs and services solely on the basis of disability.
  • Students wishing reasonable accommodations must self identify, provide current disability documentation, and request disability-related services.
  • Because of FERPA regulations, students over 18 years of age are expected to be in charge of their self-advocacy for accommodations.  Students are responsible for setting their own goals, requesting services, and monitoring their own progress.

Studying and Time Management
 High School College 
  • Time is often given during school hours to start homework and time required at home may be minimal.
  • Teachers often hold review sessions and remind students of what is required.
  • Extra time for assignments is given.
  •  Students are expected to initiate and maintain communication with their instructors if they need assistance in understanding assignments or class materials.
  • Students may expect to spend 2 to 3 hours outside of class preparing for each hour in class.
  • Professors expect students to prepare for exams, ask questions, and understand notes, readings, and other assigned work.
  • Students manage time and academic schedule so that they are able to turn assignments in on time.

Tests and Grading
High School College 
  • Assignments may be shortened and make-up tests are often offered.
  • If established in the IEP, the student may have a lower standards of course mastery.
  • All students complete assignments given to the class in order to fulfill essential requirements.
  • Students take the same exams as their peers but may receive accommodations such as extended time, an alternate testing site, a reader, or a scribe. 
  • All students are expected to meet the same grading and mastery standard.

Schedules and Classroom Expectations
High School  College 
  • Students follow a prescribed curriculum established by the school district.
  • Homework is checked and teachers prepare students for tests.  Teachers often remind students when assignments are missing or work is substandard.
  • Reading assignments are often short and note taking may not be emphasized.
  • Students go from one class to another every day of the week and will spend 6 hours each day (30 hours per week) in class.
  • Most classes are arranged for students and teachers carefully monitor class attendance.
  • Students are provided textbooks at little or no expense.
  • Teachers provide students with information they missed when absent.
  • Teachers present material to help students understand the material in the textbook.  Often students are responsible only for what is presented in class.
  • Teachers often write information on the board to cue note taking on the material students need to remember.
  • Students take courses in accordance with placement test levels and degree fields of study.
  • Professors assume that homework is completed and may not remind students of missing assignments or problems with work submitted.
  • Reading assignments are often lengthy and notes may form a substantial portion of material to be tested.
  • Students often have one or two classes per day, several times per week and will spend 12 to 16 hours each week in class.
  • Students arrange their own class schedules with the help of an adviser.  Professors may not formally take roll but they will know which students have been to class.
  • Students need to budget funds for textbooks.
  • Professors expect students to ask classmates for any notes or material from classes missed.
  • Professors might not follow the textbook.  They may offer illustrations, background information or relevant research, but they will expect students to assimilate the textbook readings.
  • Professors may lecture, expecting students to identify the important points in notes.  Good notes are a must in college.