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EIU First-Generation Student Resources

High School vs. College

Going from high school to college can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know what to expect. You will be taking new classes, meeting new people, and making new memories in a new environment.

To be prepared, it helps knowing what will make your time in college different from your time in high school. Here are some of the differences you can expect when you come to EIU:

You can choose your classes

In high school, you have a set number of courses you have to take every day, spending about 6 to 7 hours Monday through Friday taking back-to-back classes. The classes are arranged for you, so you take courses that cover broad areas in English, history, science, and math.

In college, you can arrange your own schedule with the guidance of your advisor, focusing on the courses you need to graduate that work well with your schedule. You have the freedom to decide how many classes you take and what times you take them. You may find yourself only taking 1 to 3 classes a day or having long periods of free time between classes.

You will have more freedom in the types of courses you take, choosing between courses that are more hands-on, more discussion-based, or more lecture-based. Not only that, you will also have the freedom to take unique courses based on your interests. At EIU, we have courses that cover topics such as the representation of gender and race in comic books, ethical hacking and network defense, the behavior of domestic animals and their wild ancestors, and how to teach students who are English language learners. With unique topics such as these, you can shape your college education to match your interests.

You can work closely with professors in and out of the classroom

In high school, depending on the class, you may not have the opportunity to work closely with your teacher and peers. When it comes to more lecture-based classes, you have teachers lecture verbally without many opportunities to speak directly with your teacher and peers. Also, your teachers may be available before, during, or after class if you want to speak with them about the coursework. Those times may not work for you, especially if you are trying to meet in between classes or if you have a busy after-school schedule.

At the college level, things work similarly, but you have more opportunities to work closely with your professor and peers in the classroom. At EIU, we have small class sizes, with the average class size of 15 students. These small class sizes also allow you to work closely with your professors and peers in the classroom.

You can also speak with professors outside of class during their office hours, the time your professors schedule to meet with students. You can use office hours to ask them questions about the coursework, but you are also encouraged to speak with them about anything. Whether there’s a topic you want to learn more about, a career path you want more information on, or you simply want to stop by for a chat, you can go to your professors for just about anything. Because of the freedom you have to shape your class schedule in a way that works for you, you will also have more time available to meet with your professor if those office hours do not work for you.

You can join a broad range of student organizations

In high school, you can join after school clubs, and your participation in them can teach you how to work with others, think creatively, and make friends. Joining clubs also looks great on a college application.

Things work a bit similarly in college, but there are some differences. College-level student organizations are run primarily by students. They give students a lot more freedom on the kinds of events they want to host, activities they want to do, or issues they want to focus on. They can help you network, gain more hands-on experience in your field of interest, and take on responsibilities that help you learn outside of the classroom. Student organizations also look great on resumes.

At EIU, we have over 100 registered student organizations, or RSOs, that can fit everyone’s needs and interests. We have various types of organizations, including multicultural organizations, academic organizations, political organizations, and more.

You can live on campus

In high school, you take your classes then head home at the end of the school day or when you are finished with any after-school extracurriculars. At the college level, you have the opportunity to live on campus, living within walking distance from your classes, the library, and dining halls.

There are many benefits to living on campus. Living on campus helps you be more connected to the campus community, providing you with more opportunities to connect with your peers through campus activities and events. You can have easy access to your friends, campus resources, staff, and faculty. Living on campus also gives you additional support to help you navigate through college. Residence halls have resident assistants (RAs) who can help you transition to living on campus.

At EIU, we have 11 residence halls, 2 apartment complexes, and Greek Court, so you have many housing options to choose from. 95% of students surveyed said they enjoy living in our residence halls.

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