#009 – The Importance of Anticipating the Key Differences Between High School and College

Understanding the key differences between high school and college directly impacts how we “parent” our students as we help them prepare to make the big transition. No one gives us a roadmap of exactly how to do this. It is helpful for parents to understand how their role changes when their student heads to college as well as the important skills that students need to succeed. In this podcast Vicki and Lynn examine changing roles for everyone, explain FERPA rules and regulations, and look at specific differences in time management and expectations in college.


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One of the most important concepts that we discussed in this episode is the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This gives college students sole access to their educational records. If a student wishes to share that information with others (such as parents) they must complete a FERPA waiver.  It is essential that parents understand how FERPA rights work.

If you and your student decide together that they will sign a FERPA release and your student’s school does not have a form, here is a template suggested by the U.S. Department of Education.  We have a post on College Parent Central that can provide some additional information – What FERPA Means for You and Your College Student.

Vicki has also written an article for Collegiate Parent about both FERPA and HIPAA which expands on this topic and may help some families make a decision about whether to sign a release. (You might enjoy other articles on Collegiate Parent as well.)  FERPA, HIPAA and Important Family Decisions.

In this episode, Lynn also mentioned that our students are considered “emerging adults.” If this is a new concept for you, check out our post: Getting to Know Your Emerging Adult College Student.

You can also go directly to the source by reading Jeffrey Arnett’s book: Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road Through the Late Teens Through the Twenties.

Here are a couple of additional articles on College Parent Central that share information about parent access to student information in college:

College Parent Portal: Not Necessarily An Open Door for Everyone

What Are Parental Notification Policies?

As we discussed the student role in directing their college education, we discussed the importance of self-advocacy and time management.  Lynn did the math and estimated that students spend approximately 1080 hours in class in high school and 336 hours in class in college.  That’s a big difference! It means that your student is more responsible for their study time outside of the classroom. Remember that most colleges expect students to spend 2 hours outside of the classroom for every hour they spend in the classroom.

As you think about how you might support your student with this new responsibility, here are some articles that might be helpful.

Is Your College Student Investing Enough Time Studying?

Managing Time, Managing Self: College Freshman Challenge

Help Your Student Get Started Talking to Professors

What Should My Student Consider When Choosing a Schedule of Classes?


And don’t forget that you can listen to all of our previous podcast episodes here or subscribe for free wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.


2 thoughts on “#009 – The Importance of Anticipating the Key Differences Between High School and College”

  1. One of the big changes students will see, from high school to college, is a less rigid structure. While this can mean more freedom for students, parents must also be supportive and offer guidance when needed. With lectures and exams becoming more involved, communication between parents and their children going into school becomes that much more important.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Robbie. Thanks for reminding us how important parents’ support and communication can be! And by the way, Episode 5 of the podcast gives parents some suggestions for keeping those lines of communication open.


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