4 differences between high school and college English courses


By the time students reach their freshman year of college, they will have already taken four separate English courses. It likely seems that students know everything there is to know at this point, but once students reach the college level most of the old rules go out the window. There are several differences between high school and college English courses of which most notably is the time and independence required. If students can prepare for these differences, they’re more likely to do well in their challenging university-level classes – our Orange County private high school and college English tutors are here to help.

1.  The 5 paragraph essay

By the end of high school students will be pros when it comes to writing a five-paragraph essay. In fact, it seems that the whole world must be written in five paragraphs because this particular format is given such emphasis throughout a student’s high school experience. Unfortunately, most college professors disregard this format almost straight away. This can be a tough sell for students who have molded their writing to fit within five paragraphs since they were a freshman. However, getting away from this format is a great thing for students and allows more independent thought as well as the ability to write about what’s important rather than trying to meet a specific word count. Most college papers have a required word count range allowing student writers to get an idea of their scope of work without being too strict or limiting.

2. Scholarly works cited

College students will be utilizing scholarly sources to a much higher degree than they did in high school. It’s important for students to familiarize themselves with the campus library and know how to tell the difference between a scholarly journal and a basic credible source. This can be more difficult these days because almost everything is found online, making it harder to distinguish between a scholarly article and a basic one. Students should start by looking for an abstract and an author with three letters after their name to help them get an idea if they’re on the right track (READ: 5 Things That Can Ruin Your Study Time).

3. More time, more revisions

In general, high school students will have to write a rough draft and final draft when it comes to essay writing. However, once they get into college, they may find that they’re writing four or more drafts before they create something they can turn in to the professor. Students often need to change their thesis once they start doing extensive research or may find that their original idea was either too broad or too narrow. This means a lot more effort on the part of the student as well as excellent time management skills. Students are given three or four weeks to complete their essay from start to finish, but they will likely need the majority of this time to deal with those extra drafts.

4. Complex thought processes

In high school, students mainly work on an analytical essay or an argumentative one and often take a position on one extreme or the other. Once at university, students will be asked to look at several different sides of an argument and perhaps come up with a thesis that lies within the gray area of the two opposing opinions. This requires a much more complex thought process and can certainly be mentally fatiguing. Students working all hours of the night will often find that the ideas don’t come to them as quickly as they wanted. It’s a good idea for students to carve out a specific time in their schedule or work with a study group where they can brainstorm for different ideas.

Whether you’re in high school or college, do well in your English classes with the help of private Orange County English tutoring from TutorNerds.

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