High School Vs. College

As a first-time Saint Leo student, your child will experience new opportunities and challenges, including several major differences between high school and college life.

The following guide outlines some of these differences for new members of the Saint Leo community. Talk to your student about their expectations for college life and how they plan to adjust to these new experiences.

Personal Freedom

  • High School: Parents and teachers remind students of responsibilities and guide them in setting priorities. Time is usually structured by others.
  • College: Students manage their own time, and—with guidance from resident assistants, peer mentors and professors—balance the classes, clubs and employment of their choosing.

Teachers vs. Professors

  • High School: Teachers often present material directly from textbooks, with a focus on imparting knowledge and facts.
  • College: Professors usually amplify texts, providing illustrations, background information and additional research related to class material. They ask for and reward students for a higher level of thinking and questioning. With a 16:1 student-faculty ratio at University Campus, Saint Leo students get the individualized attention they need.


  • High School: Testing is often frequent and covers small amounts of material. Mastery is usually judged as the ability to reproduce exactly what has been taught in the form in which it was presented.
  • College: Testing can be more cumulative, covering larger amounts of material at specific points in the semester, such as midterms and finals. Mastery is often seen as the ability to apply what has been learned in class to new situations and problems in a way that demonstrates deeper thinking and questioning.


  • High School: The guiding principle is, "Effort counts." Classes are usually structured to reward a good-faith effort, with participation and homework factoring significantly toward final grades.
  • College: Class participation and homework completion considerably improve comprehension and ability to perform well on exams and papers; however, hard work alone will not substitute for actual results in the grading process. Students who are struggling can find help at the Learning Resource Center.