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As you may know, many high schools offer Advanced Placement(AP) Courses created to guide students through the curriculum needed to successfully pass the relevant AP Exam. These courses are often catered to make high schoolers believe that they are at the same level as college courses. This, however, is not the case. Many students who have taken AP courses and gone to college are shocked at the difference in expectations/habits. Here are some things your AP teacher never told you.

Paper Formatting

Not every teacher is going to be the same when it comes to formatting your papers. Some require MLA while others want APA. Not every teacher wants an extremely intricate title of over 4 lines. Typically, they want something straight to the point that actually addresses what is within the paper. Thesis’ are a whole different story. The traditional “three-prong” thesis is not always accepted by professors. Some want more and for this a helpful tip is to check if the school has a writing center. Often time going at least once a semester is mandated anyway, and they are a good help to see where you are formatting wise.


The amount of teachers that allow cheat sheets of some type in college is actually shocking. You just have to find the right ones. Make sure to get in contact with upper classmen to know what professors to take. Despite this, it is important to know how to take the time to study. If you aren’t used to studying gradually over the semester and like to cram it all in that is not a good technique. Some teachers like to have pop quizzes which can really wreck your grades. Hopefully they will state that in your syllabus, but that is not guaranteed. Make sure to allocate at least an hour a day to studying for a subject. You can vary which subject it is that you study each day, but by getting into the habit of blocking out distractions and just studying, you’ll be more prepared come midterm and finals week.

Falling in Love with the Syllabus

Syllabus week otherwise known as syllabus day is an instrumental part of your semester. People call it the easiest week of the year but it can easily be one of the busiest. You’re getting 4+ syllabi with a boat load of assignments. This is when you should take the time to either get a planner and write out all of your assignments or make an excel spreadsheet with all of the assignments you have due every day for the entire semester. This may seem tedious but in the long run it is extremely worth it. Teachers aren’t always going to remind you when your papers are due or when tests are coming up. If it is on the syllabus you’re expected to know it. I remember walking into class one day, being handed a quiz and wondering where it came from. There are not nearly as many quizzes and tests in college so doing well on the majority of them is essential to keeping your grades up. By tracking them you’ll have adequate time to study and know when you have the best opportunity to relax.

Making Friends in Class

Now unless you attend a college that a lot of your classmates go to its likely you won’t know many people coming into college. If you are sick in high school and you miss the work you probably knew plenty of people to get the notes from. It is very important that you try to meet at least 3 people in any class so that if you are absent you can go to them and ask what you missed. If you only are friends with people you may have met in clubs/sports teams and you all travel together, that means you all miss class together. In other words, you’ll have no one to get the notes from. While you can ask the teacher sometimes they forget important things that were said in class and aren’t able to point them out to you. Your friends would be able to do this.

Office Hours

Most teachers have office hours which are essential to both your grade and your general understanding. Unlike in AP classes where you have an entire year worth of classes, in college you only have a semester. A semester has more frequent breaks and the information is compacted. This means you have to do a lot of self learning.

This can be a problem for those who aren’t used to teaching themselves which is why office hours are so great. This is a time where you can get one-on-one instruction with the teacher on concepts you didn’t understand in class or something that the text book didn’t explain well. Most teachers appreciate the extra effort you take to master the concepts of their subjects. This appreciation can lead to a few points here or there or even letters of recommendation in the future.

While AP courses give you a good base fundamentally, they do not totally prepare you for college. Just because you got a 5 on your AP exam and decide to retake the subject, does not mean you will get an A in the class. Many students have done poorer than expected because rather than studying they assumed they knew everything since they “passed” the exam. Make sure to study, utilize office hours, and follow that syllabus. Just because you are an AP Scholar with distinction, know that it does not exempt you from getting a bad grade.

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the author

Stephanie Jones is a student at Villanova University studying Computer Engineering. When she isn't reading or writing she enjoys watching tv shows on netflix, tumbling, and texting her friends. Memes are a sure fire way to make her laugh and she is always available for contact at

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