High School vs. College Life

If you’re transitioning from high school to college, you will see a big change in your priorities and responsibilities. Although these changes may be challenging at first, learning to adjust is a necessary step in being a successful student, gaining your independence, and becoming an adult.

While you’re deciding on your plans after high school, be proactive and begin comparing the differences between the two academic lifestyles. Talk to others about their personal experiences and if possible, take a tour of different campuses to see first-hand what they are like.

Take a look at this chart, provided by Virginia Commonwealth University that shows some of the major differences between high school and college life. The site also provides some excellent tips and advice from real students around going to college and the changes it will bring.



High School


Class Structure

More structure – have classes all day long

Less structure – student sets up schedule


Frequent contact – may see teachers every day

Less frequent contact – may only see professors one to three times a week


School evaluates the student and provides the student with documentation

Student must provide the college with updated documentation of the disability in order to receive accommodations

Student’s IEP is generally not considered documentation


Teacher and parent advocate for services

Student must advocate for accommodations and services

Receiving accommodations

Accommodations are set up through the IEP process

Student must start the accommodation process by contacting the person/office on campus in charge of accommodations