In high school, students attend classes for about 30 hours a week. In college, that time commitment plummets to well below 20. Many student have several semesters in which four classes added up
to just 12 hours.
Less time seated in front of professors, however, does not mean there is less learning.
Get ready to read. A lot.
Most learning happens outside the lecture hall. Students are expected to read the assigned texts, engage in discussions with classmates, and research papers and projects on their own time. They will only get out of class what they put into it.
If a student is enrolled in four classes, they are most likely juggling at least four textbooks or assigned readings on any given day. Professors will not generally spend the time or energy to check whether or not their students keep up on their reading each week; it is simply expected that students are completing their assignments. Lectures will provide an overview of the material, but professors (unlike high school teachers) will not stop to explain a point that may be potentially unclear or difficult. They keep teaching.
Midterms and finals are often the only significant evaluations of whether or not a student has completed his reading. And for students who put off their readings until the week before the test, it is often too late. College is a time to take responsibility for one’s own learning. It is also a time to learn to not be afraid to seek out help from classmates, teaching assistants or even the professors themselves outside of class.