For many high school students who earned top grades—and especially for those who stumbled into “Easy A's"—college can be a rude awakening. At the most selective colleges and universities, where classes are chock full of valedictorians, salutatorians and other top performers who were once accustomed to near-perfect report cards, it can be challenging to adjust to a new level of expectation … and competition.
And even at more typical colleges—the ones that don't draw only from the upper echelons of the senior class—the work load can be heavy or, at least, different, when compared to the high school norms. For instance, there is often a lot more reading assigned, and it can take brand-new collegians a couple semesters to figure out exactly what they really do … and don't … have to finish. And in college, unlike high school, a final grade may be largely based on just one major paper or exam … which is good news for those who do well on it but can be tough for those who don't. It's not like in high school where a single lousy test grade will rarely torpedo an entire term because there will be many other grades to make up for it.