Central vs. college: alumni share thoughts


With our seemingly never-ending series of tests and quizzes coupled with our homework load, one question always pops into our minds: will we, Central students, be ready for college? I decided to interview some Central alum for some words of wisdom.

Is college harder than high school academically?

Emily Morris, Northwestern

“College is much harder. At Central, tests are a large part of the grades, but homework, projects and other assignments contribute strongly to the final grade. In college, my final grades are all based on two or three tests or papers, which means I have no room to do poorly on anything. Central also moves much slower than college, but that is perhaps because Northwestern is on the quarter system. Specifically, science classes are much harder just because they’re usually over 100 people and labs are included, which are much more difficult than labs done in high school.”

Cara Tenerelli, Tulane

“It definitely depends on your major and your school, but I personally have found that college isn’t much harder than high school. I felt extremely prepared when I came to college and was pleasantly surprised at how well I could handle my course load. I worked really hard in high school, but I’m glad because Central definitely taught me how to study and be successful. It was difficult, but it was worth it.”
Gideon Ticho, Vanderbilt

“College is harder academically because there is less structure.  In high school, you have class every day, you do activities in class, and you have homework.  So even if you’re a slacker, there’s still a structure to keep you on track.  In college, you get a syllabus that says ‘here’s when your tests are’, and it’s up to you to make sure you’re ready for them.”

Do you study more or less in college? Have your grades improved?

Morris, Northwestern

“I study so much more in college…In high school, there would be some days when I wouldn’t have homework in a certain class, so I wouldn’t do anything for that class that night. However, in college, there is rarely “homework,” so I am held more personally responsible for my own success or failure by being disciplined about reading and doing practice problems every day.”

Patrick Reedy, University of Minnesota

“You study differently than you do in high school. The nice part is [that] I go completely on my own pace and schedule. I never have to do busy work assignments. However, I study hours on end prior to exams (lots of all-nighters), but in between exams my schedule is pretty relaxed. My grades have gotten better because I realize that your college GPA is very important, and it is difficult to just pass by like I did in high school.”

Tenerelli, Tulane

“I probably study just as much as I did in high school, but it’s easier because I can space out my studying. I have time during the day to do my work, and I also don’t have the same classes every day which is helpful. It’s definitely important to manage your time well, but if you do, then it’s really not bad. I was really happy with my grades first semester, and they were basically the same as in high school.”

Do you think Central had grade inflation?

Morris, Northwestern

“I think Hinsdale Central has significant grade inflation. In high school, passing a class was not really something a lot of people worried about. Don’t get me wrong–it was definitely hard to do well in some classes at Central, but the sheer amount of homework assigned and tests given allow students more chances to improve their grades. I think there is some grade inflation at Northwestern, but, in contrast to high school, many people are constantly worried about just getting a C in a class, which is so different from high school. The averages on tests here are often in the 60s, which is very low.”

Reedy, University of Minnesota

“Yes…it is less performance based than in college. My business school has a strict curve that gives a very limited number of students an A and makes the median grade a B. This system makes it very competitive since it is impossible for all students to do well.”

Ticho, Vanderbilt

“Central definitely had grade inflation. Any class you’ve ever taken with participation point  or extra credit opportunities is grade inflation. You get none of that in college. In a lot of classes, tests aren’t even curved.”

If you could give your senior self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Libby Melvin, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

“Learn to schedule! With that, you learn how to prioritize and you will even find out how to fit in even the fun, extra stuff. Believe it or not there is a way to get all of those AP/Honors readings done- my high school self would never have believed that.”

Reedy, University of Minnesota

“Don’t get too stressed out for college. Enjoy your senior year and give yourself free time. It is the last year with all your high school friends until you all go different ways for college. Life gets much more stressful the older you get so don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself at such a young age. There are more factors to success than your GPA so open your eyes to unique opportunities outside of the classroom. Get excited for college, the best years of your life! You are going to have so much fun and notice yourselves grow and mature very quickly.”

Ticho, Vanderbilt

“Enjoy it while it lasts. You’re about to be a freshman again so have fun while you’re on top.”