The transition from middle school to high school is rough: new classmates, new friends and the struggles of adulting. Now that you’re heading into college, you remember what it felt like to be a freshman the first time, and the thought of doing it again is a scary one.

The truth is, the transition from high school to college might not be as difficult as everyone says it is, but there are still things you need to know. Academically speaking, college is a different world compared to high school, and there’s a reason why, in 2014, less than 40% of high school seniors felt prepared for college.

You don’t have to be caught unaware. Here are five crucial ways that college academics will differ from your high school classes.


Your professors will assign you loads of reading, but most do not expect you to read it word for word. Now is the time to learn how to skim for arguments. Instead of reading like you normally would, scan the pages for main points and information. Other strategies include reading the first and last line of every paragraph, which, as long as you follow the content, remains a decent tactic.


In a class of over one hundred students, you might think the professor won’t notice your absence, but you’d be wrong. Now that you’re in college, it’s your choice whether you want to go to class, which comes at a literal price—anywhere from $30 to $104 per session. Pay attention to the number of absences you have in each of your classes and don’t cross that line. Remember, it’s okay to miss a class once or twice a semester, but don’t make a habit of skipping once a week.


Say goodbye to your high school’s disintegrating math books—now you have to buy them yourself. If you’re buying them brand new, it can get expensive, but if you stick to renting used books, it’s not so bad. Some students wait to purchase textbooks until they know it will be used in class, but this is risky; some professors will assign you homework before you even meet in person.


You know you’re not in high school when your instructor has a Ph.D. Make sure to address your professors by their proper titles unless told otherwise; they worked hard for their degrees, just like you are now. Remember to ask questions and pay attention in class so that by the end of the semester, they’ll remember your name.


It’s the first day of class and the professor hands out a list of all the projects you need to complete by the end of the semester. It may seem daunting at first, but try to take things one week at a time. Most professors will remind you a week or two before a paper is due so you’ll be prepared. Work through the syllabus little by little throughout the semester, and you won’t get so overwhelmed.


Ultimately, you are the one who is now responsible for your education. It’s your job to make sure you go to class, do your homework and pass the course. College is different from high school, but the concept is still the same. Work hard, and you’ll do just fine.