By Shanmugesh R. – undergraduate student at Boston University’s 7 year BA/MD program
Graduating from high school and starting college is an exciting yet challenging task. In this blog we talk about the 9 main differences between college and high school that student’s in BA/MD programs encounter. For more information and answers to any additional questions can be found by contacting us: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-398-PREP [617-398-7737]. Call or email us today for your free 30-minute consultation!
The most significant difference between high school and college is that you must be responsible for your education. Parents, counselors, professors do not make choice for you anymore. You choose when to study, what extracurriculars to do, how to allocate your free time. There is greater independence in college which can allow you to explore your interests and try new things – but this comes at a greater responsibility over time management.
Ask for Help
An important distinction between high school and college is that you have to figure out the systems yourself. This can range from the class registration to scheduling a meeting with your advisor. You should reach out to all the infrastructure that college has set up to achieve what you need.
You should never be afraid to ask for help. There are many people in college who are willing to answer your questions, but it is up to you to ask them. Professors are a great example of providing help, but you have to go to their office hours. Office hours are a great place to get to know your professor better as well as an ask more detailed questions that you may have. At the end of the day, whenever you are unsure about anything, it is best to find the right person and ask for help!
A big difference between high school and college is the list of course offerings. Universities offers hundreds of different types of classes. The long list of classes may be overwhelming, but they are a great way to try new ideas and explore your interests in the undergraduate. Depending on the BS/MD program, the science classes are usually given to you by the program, or you follow the general path that most pre-med students do. However, your minor and general education classes are where you can utilize the newfound freedom and abundance of classes. Try to find classes that can develop a variety of skills and branch away from medicine and the sciences. Only in the undergraduate level do you have this opportunity to do so.
Reading and Taking Notes
Unlike in high school, college lectures are fast-paced and challenging. Professors in lecture usually have minimal time for questions and focus on finishing the planned material for that lecture. It is the student’s responsibility to be attentive to the material and have the appropriate note taking.
Note taking is a skill that should be developed over the course of high school and refined during college. The most successful students generally prep for lectures beforehand. College lectures dive deeper into the material and progress much faster through many concepts. It can be difficult to follow the lectures completely at first hearing. This usually means reading the textbook and taking notes before the lecture starts. Studies indicate that a set of lectures notes followed by a more digested and organized follow-up to those notes are best for understanding the material and long-term retention.
You don’t have to go to every class. In large lecture halls, most professors don’t take attendance and assume that you will take responsibility for knowing the material when the exams come. No advisor or counselor calls you parents asking you where you were instead of being in class. You are responsible for attending the class that you need to. Perfect Med encourages you to always attend class as some concepts on the test may only show up on lecture instead of in the textbook. Smaller college classes in the upper-level courses take attendance and sometimes they become part of the grade.
In high school there is a lot of small homework assignments that all contribute small percentages to the overall grade. In most college courses, there are significantly fewer assignments that make up a significant portion of the grade. Some classes may only have a midterm, a final or a large paper. This means less busy work and more meaning – and pressure – on each assignment.
College requires more studying as the materials is both more difficult and require grater application and reasoning of the concepts. Classes, unlike in high school, are graded on a curve. This doesn’t mean set percentages that equal a letter grade in the course. You are graded depending on the performance of the entire class. Professors generally assign a certain percentage of students to receive a particular grade (top 5% get an A for example).
Semester/Quarter System Classes
College is significantly more fast-paced than high school. In most high schools you will learn the same course over the entire school year. However, depending on the college you attend – if it is semester or quarter system – then the pacing of these classes will differ. Classes may happen any time during the day and there will be several hours of gaps between them. Registering for class is a much bigger process and requires more deliberation due to both timing, class variance, and difficulty. It is important to strategically discuss and plan out your schedule!
Undergraduate classes are much more difficult – especially the science courses. They are built not just on memorization but application of concepts. While in high school groupwork may not be necessary for AP course, lots of professors in college encourage group studying. It can be veery helpful to find a group of students with the same classes with whom you can work together with. Group study can help organize your study schedule as well as help understanding more complex concepts in classes.
Compared to high school, colleges have significantly more clubs and activities that you can get involved in. Based on the topics and activities that you are interested in; chances are there will be a club or organization that you can get involved in. As a BS/MD student, it is recommended to have some science activities, but we also encourage you to get involved in more diverse activities. There are many club sports, volunteering and outreach clubs, recreational teams, and more. Especially in your first year, you should get involved in different groups to meet new like-minded people besides your BS/MD class.
If you are a high school student interested in applying to BS/MD programs, The Perfect Med team is here to help. Please reach out to learn more about our services or any other questions you may have!