Classes in college are different from high school classes. Here’s a little breakdown of what to expect.


First of all, I can almost guarantee that at some point in your college career, you will have a professor who says, “Look at the person to your left and the person to your right—one of the three of you will not pass this class.” Don’t believe him (or her). A lot of times professors try to intimidate kids to drop out to lower their class size, but you CAN pass college classes, it’s just a matter of learning what each professor values and tests on. Talk to other students to find out how hard a class is—they’ve actually taken the class, not just taught it.

Class Size

For one thing, a class of 30 is considered small in college. Classes that small are usually labs or liberal arts (literature, writing, visual arts) courses, where you need more individual attention. Lecture classes can be anywhere from 50 to 400 or 500 students, depending on the college and the necessity/popularity of the class. I had several biology and psychology classes that were literally held in a movie theater. (The exception is smaller private schools which tend to have smaller classes overall.)

Class Time

Class times vary by school. At my college the shorter classes, which met 3 times a week, were about 50 minutes. Medium classes, which met twice a week, were about 1 hour and 20 minutes. The longest classes varied up to about 3 or 4 hours, but usually met only once a week.

Course Length

Unlike most high school courses, you only take college classes for one quarter or semester (depending on the school). That means you have about 10 (quarter) to 16 (semester) weeks to learn everything there is to know. It also means that a class you dislike is over faster.

Homework and Tests

What to Expect on Your First Day of Class in CollegeHomework was a staple in high school (and a lot of times a nice buffer to even out bad test grades). In college, there is less homework that gets turned in for a grade. You will also notice that you will be assigned a LOT more reading, so be sure you allot time for that. Often homework will be more geared toward test preparation, because tests are worth a lot in college. In some classes, your entire grade is based on the grades you get on a midterm and a final—that means you really need to study.
Yeah, college is different than high school. But just because classes are different doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get good grades. You just need to give yourself the chance to adjust to them—it’s a new learning style, but you can figure out how to do it.