What exactly happens after HS?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by a teacher, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. a teacher

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    I ran into a couple of former students the other day who are in their first year at a local 4-yr college. Both were solid students when they were at my school. I asked them how the transition had been and they said, to my amazement, that college was easier than high school! Now this made no sense to me at all, especially given that from all that I can tell, my school lacks much rigor and very little homework is assigned. Of course I pushed the topic further.

    "What do you mean?", I asked. "Isn't it crowded?", I ventured. I know this particular college has relatively low entrance requirements and so I assume they're herding students in like cattle. One of them said his classes are smaller than at our school and that in his biggest, which has 40 students, half don't show up, giving him a lot of individualized time with his teacher. The other kid said he only has 17 kids in his English class! So what's the catch? They said that sure, you need to be organized and on top of your game, but if so, the work isn't really hard.

    The conventional wisdom I've been going on for a while now is based on a story my wife told me about when she started in a community college. She said it was much harder than hs, and that one of the professors had told the class that if they were making A's in hs, that same effort would earn them B's in jc.

    Help me out here. Has anyone out there got a clear idea of the relationship between hs and college these days? Maybe even taught or teach both?

    Looking forward to your replies! :confused:
     
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  3. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I found college easier. I liked the classes better. I loved the freedom. My classes were pretty much 25 students and under except for three or four. I went to undergrad where we have 25,000+ students. But with the right major, your classes will be small.

    My students find some courses easier. For example, English comp is much easier than the senior courses we offer. However, many struggle with the freedom. They can't focus. Their courses also get harder. There's a reason weed out courses are called as such.

    I didn't try in high school. I wish I had. My grades probably would've been great! Overall I did so much better in college.
     
  4. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Nov 17, 2014

    I hear this sometimes from students.

    At our HS, I worry that we push our college-bound kids super hard. Constant homework, many of them play sports, have a job, and are involved in the musical, their church, taking care of siblings ...

    College classes that meet every other day with not-necessarily-daily assignments ... I can see how it seems easier for some.
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 17, 2014

    One tends to major in things in which they are particularly interested and therefore more motivated in college as opposed to high school requirements to take the soup to nuts curriculum. My son is a math head...he sailed thru hs math but not so in other subjects. He double majored in accounting and finance in college and is now an MBA candidate in accounting. Math is 'easy' for him but other subjects for which he has no interest and in which he lacks motivation might seem 'hard'.
     
  6. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Nov 17, 2014

    I found college to be easier too, because the day to day demands were less exhausting. As czacza mentioned, you can pick the classes you want--I had more freedom in flexibility in class choices, so I picked ones I knew I would enjoy--which made me want to be there and made me want to do the work.

    As a history major, for the most part I sat in lectures. I took notes, but it was because I wanted to, not had to. You didn't even have to be there.

    Sure we had papers to write, but we had months to prepare them. They had to be stellar of course, but I had months to prepare them---so they were stellar.

    For the most part, all I took were tests. There was never "homework" or "classwork."

    So, I agree, college is "easier." But if you aren't on top of it (studying, taking notes, paying attention) it's easy to get left behind, and there will be no one there to pick you up and hold your hand.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Nov 17, 2014

    Fewer classes that meet 2-3 times a week vs. a full array of core classes AND electives that meet every day would be my deduction. They can avoid most classes they don't want to take and really enjoy the ones they do.
     
  8. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Nov 17, 2014

    I found my 1st semester of college to be easier than High School, but not after that. Lots of general requirements and nothing too hard. It did get tougher as it went on. I wonder if your students will feel the same way.
     
  9. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Nov 17, 2014

    I think it's pretty much been covered already... but freshman and sophomore year of college were way easier than hs for me. Assignments were pretty much weekly rather than daily, and classes only met 2-3 times per week. It made it much easier to manage everything when it was no longer 8 classes with homework due the next day every day... Granted I still did a lot of procrastinating, but it just felt like less work than high school.
     
  10. a teacher

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    Nov 17, 2014

    Thanks for all the responses!

    Many of you are making the assumption that kids can choose what they want as Freshmen in college. I don't think that's the case. First of all, many kids take general ed classes, which are forced on them, though I don't know the conditions for this. The kids I spoke to seemed to be doing this, though one of them was taking a couple of computer science courses. These were fun and easy because he already knew the stuff having learned it on his own.

    I do think it's going to get tough for them. They did say that Freshmen get priority when scheduling classes, so maybe they will be left out in the cold on certain classes they need as they move on. I also think a couple of you hit on a crucial point. They don't have the day-to-day assignments, but they are expected to learn the material for tests. This means that if they're not smart AND organized they won't pass tests. Perhaps they have the illusion that things are easier because of the schedule, but they don't recognize the implications yet.

    I still don't understand the small classes though. Especially at a school that's bringing students in like cattle. Everybody and their brother attend this particular college.
     
  11. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Nov 17, 2014

    Gen eds are sometimes huge, sometimes not. I had English classes that were smaller than most of my HS classes, even at a college with 17000+ students. However, I also had science classes that had 100+ students enrolled.
    It's not really the content that's easier, and I think that might be where the confusion is -- most of the content was on par with or slightly harder than my hs work, but the TIMING was easier. My classes weren't daily, so homework was on a weekly basis with the whole semester's schedule outlined in a syllabus. Most homework was just reading and maybe a short writing assignment, and the majority of the grade was based on a test that happened maybe once a month.

    As far as studying... I suck at studying even now and I still never had any problem with cramming for tests and passing, only to promptly forget the information once the final was done. That's the majority of "studying" in college unfortunately. You don't have to be organized to cram information and make a few good guesses.

    I'm sorry, but a lot of college IS easier than high school simply because of the freedom of class times and scheduling. I know that's not really what you want to hear, but that's a pretty common experience. The consequences for failing might be bigger in college, and it's certainly harder to recover from a failed midterm or final than it is in high school, but a lot of the gen ed classwork is not anywhere near as tough as in high school. My classes didn't get hard until junior and senior year when I entered my professional program, and even those I scraped through with minimal effort. (Not proud of that, but there it is.)

    Teach your students good study/time management skills if you think they'll need it, but know that having those skills will lead to them coming back and saying "College is so much easier than high school!"

    (Just graduated this past May, so college is still very fresh in my mind if that makes any difference haha.)
     
  12. a teacher

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    It's not that I don't want to hear college is easier (why do you assume that?). It's that I find it hard to believe, since material should be getting more dense in substance and typically we hear college professors complaining that they are receiving unprepared students, or that the remedial classes are growing because students arrive unprepared for basic classes.

    There's also a logic here that doesn't make sense. If you have a week to complete an assignment that's great if it's hs. But in college the assignments should be tougher, and all your studying etc. will pile up if you're not working everyday. I teach hs with an alternating block. Kids have two days (and more if it's a Friday) to complete assignments. I still have a huge amount that don't do homework. In fact, I just had a paper that was due today that the kids had over 3 weeks to complete! The return rate was dismal. :dizzy:
     
  13. Ms.Blank

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    Nov 17, 2014

    I found my own community college experience to be harder than high school. I was an honors kid who dropped out in junior year to standard classes. It was easier and less stressful. Once I got to college, I was hit with tons of homework, studying, and essays again.

    Everyone's mileage varies, I'm sure. Each school is different, both high school and college, and each kid is different.
     
  14. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I found my freshman year of college to be significantly easier than all of my AP classes in high school. For me, part of it was that for AP classes you spend an entire year working your butt off and it all comes down to passing one test (the official AP exam). I found the AP exams to be harder than any test I took in college, especially since they covered so much material and I only had a general idea of what would be on the test. In my college classes, one mediocre test grade would be no big deal, and no class ever covered as much material as an entire year of an AP class. I was also just far busier my senior year of high school. My freshman year of college I spent about 2-3 hours a day in classes, as opposed to the full 7.5 hour day I spent at school in high school (with no study hall). Even if the college classes were more work (and they really weren't), that's an extra 4-5 hours of free time in my day!

    Freshman year I also took mostly gen ed classes, which I think are easier than major classes for anyone. My first semester, I almost never had homework. Most of the professors gave out some sort of study guide for exams, so I quickly figured out I didn't really need to do the reading. Once I got into my education classes, they were far more time consuming and came with a lot more work. We had to do practicums pretty much from our first education class, so from that point on I was spending 7 hours or more a day in class or at my practicum school, as opposed to the 2-3 hours I spent in class taking my gen eds.
     
  15. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Nov 18, 2014

    In high school, I was in class for 35 hours a week. In college, I had 15-18 hours of class a week. There was more time to get assignments done. We moved along at a faster pace when reading (a book a week on average), but the essays with them were very similar to literary analyses I did in high school. For English classes and education classes at my school, they're small because they're based on discussion, writing, and field work. A professor can't go visit 100 students at each student's field work location. Similarly, an English prof can't grade 100 essays for each class he teaches.

    As for gen eds, I had a laundry list to choose from. I took Introduction to Oceans. I took Europe: WWI-present. I took a movie study course. Those are just a few I took, but I always chose ones that seemed interesting.
     
  16. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I wouldn't say it's EASIER, but it's definitely more manageable. Students have more of a say about what classes they want to take, including which core classes (they may not want to take Biochemistry if they're Drama majors). Again, they usually have fewer classes each semester than they did in high school due to the block semester scheduling.
     
  17. Go Blue!

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    College is only easier if the student is prepared for college-level work/enviornment. Many HS graduates are not.

    Many of my students that go to ju-co/community colleges have to take remedial classes. When they come back to visit us (which is often since the few that go college rarely leave the area); they talk about how much harder college is. Writing "real" papers, taking/keeping up with notes, studying, organizational and time-management skills - all of this is much harder for them in college than HS was. MUCH HARDER.

    And yes, partially, this is a failure on our school/district.
     
  18. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Some of the students who say easier won't be there a year from now. That said, I think I felt that college was easier than HS only because from the beginning I had the chance to take classes I was really interested in to balance the mandatory classes. Many HS don't offer the wide variety of classes, making it a long 4 year mandatory process broken up by sports, etc. College is also a time of self discovery, personal freedom, and the feeling of being more adult. That is heady stuff. There are hard classes in college, but those years may well be the best of your life, in terms of choice and limited obligations.
     
  19. Peregrin5

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    I think it depends on a lot of factors. My community college was definitely easier than my HS career. I didn't do well in a lot of my HS classes because I didn't care about them. The teachers were boring. They had lots of homework which was essentially busywork.

    In college, we met less often, the work we did get was meaningful and there was less of it. I had a clear goal I was striving towards. Grades were based more on tests, and I was really smart but really lazy, so I could ace tests but I never did homework but could still pass with As or Bs.

    In high school, if you didn't do homework, it was a large enough percentage that you would fail or get a D or C even if you aced the tests.

    I will say though that I finally learned that in some classes in college that not doing the homework will lead to poor grades. This happened only much much later in college after a few poor results in classes.

    Once I moved from community college to University, I realized that it was no longer easy at all. Things were intense there and you couldn't get by without studying like you could for the gen ed classes at the community college. This is where my professors would have probably told me that I was unprepared for college work because I had no study skills (didn't study or do homework prior to this point, and you just can't get through organic chemistry without studying).

    I would say that for your students it may start off easy, but will get more difficult much more quickly. If they're lucky and chose a major they are truly interested in, their interest may allow them to put that passion into play and do well, but at some point they need to have study skills and be able to work smart and hard.

    I also have to note the fact that they are mentioning students who sign-up for classes but never showed up. For some students, community college is a morass they won't escape from for years. The extra freedom and choice will trap them in a cycle of skipping classes, showing up late, dropping courses they don't like, and they'll spend a lot of time in community colleges when they could have just gotten through it with discipline and graduated quickly. I still have friends from High School (that was almost a decade ago) who are still taking classes at the community college to 'eventually' transfer to a 4-year university. These students may think it's easy, but they obviously aren't reaching the goals they wanted to reach, so it's harder for them for other reasons.
     
  20. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Also some classes don't require attendance. These are far and few between but I had one that was based on three tests only. The professor put the test online a week ahead of time. You then had two tries to take the test in our computer based testing center. I went to that class the first day and never went back. I ended up with a 98%. The professor was mad he got assigned a lower level class apparently. He was great, actually, for the higher classes. It was a weird experience.
     
  21. a teacher

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    Good news. Ran into another former student who is now halfway through their Freshman year. This kid was a phenomenal student. I asked her to share her thoughts on hs vs. college and she said college was more difficult because she couldn't get away with not studying for tests and the academic challenges were greater. She has to really work to keep up with everyone else.

    This was the type of answer I expected to hear. So now the question is, why such different responses?
     
  22. 2ndTimeAround

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    Because each school varies in its approach. Because students pick different majors (would anyone disagree that a communications major is much easier than a chemistry major?). Because AP courses place some students at different levels when they begin.

    I ran into two former students over the holidays also. They are sisters and both go to Yale. I asked them how school was going. The freshman said it was EASY. Much harder to get into Yale than actually be there. Her older sister (a sophomore) rolled her eyes. Said that she's been telling the younger one to just wait but hasn't convinced her yet that it will get hard, quickly.
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    It makes sense that it would depend upon the individual student AND the individual college. My high school prepared me very well for the college I attended and my study skills were up to the task. If I had gone to my reach school or even my safety, it might have been a different story.
     
  24. Myrisophilist

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    The kids you've spoken to are in the beginning of college, yes? So they haven't gotten into the higher-level courses. Not to say that gen-eds can't be demanding in multiple ways, but it just may be that the kids who say college is easier than HS haven't yet experienced the consequences of poor study habits since they're still so early in their college careers.
     
  25. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Every student will be different. What is true for one may not be true for another.

    One reason college seemed easier for me was because I wasn't taking courses in my worst subjects. I'm not good at math so I took one statistics course to meet the requirements and breezed through it. Then I was done with math for the rest of my college career. Same thing happened with science.

    I also learned how to study in high school. I may not have tried as hard as I should've in high school but I sure did have to study in many of my subjects, especially French, history, and science. I also learned time management in high school as I spent most of my after school time at the barn. If I wasn't riding, I was in the lounge studying when I could.

    I teach seniors. Some are currently more than halfway through school and truly excelling with little struggle. I've had a few struggle so much they've dropped out or switched to a community college. And I have plenty in between. So much depends on the situation and the student.

    I have no doubt if I would've studied nursing, I would've struggled with some of my classes.
     
  26. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 10, 2015

    Just like others said, every student is different, you will hear 100 different stories from 100 students.
    This was my experience:
    easier: When I started community college I was 32 years old. I was developmentally definitely ready, and starving for intellectual input
    harder: I never went to school with English instruction. English is my second language, and I went to high school in Hungary. I felt overwhelmed and nervous that I wasn't going to be able to do it.
    easier: I was VERY motivated
    harder: I had a full time job, (40 hrs per week) with Tuesday and Thursday off. I went to school on those days, carried a 12-17 unit load and was in school 8 am - 5 pm both days. I was also a single mom and had sort of a part time job (home based).

    I was still able to do it well.
    It does make a huge difference that you can chose your classes and your major. If you're studying what you're interested in, not something mandatory, you are more likely to do well.

    Obviously I can't compare college to my high school experience (but can compare it as teaching high school), but the time spent in school being much less makes it seem easier. You can spend 2 and a half days comfortably, or 5 half days (4 hours each) in college and carry a full load.
    I was first surprised how much reading we had to do. I was taking mostly humanities, and because at some point I had 9 credits, minimum of 5 constantly) in Arabic classes, vocabulary, homework and studying grammar etc. seemed like a part time job.

    Studying at the university level was harder and more dense. Schedule was still the same, but the content required more effort and time.
     
  27. a teacher

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    All the students are halfway through their first year and all attending the same (relatively low-bar for entrance) college.

    I think the first two former students were just clueless or missing the bigger picture. Also, one of them was studying something he was already very knowledgeable about: computers.
     

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