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What is the biggest reality check in college?

QUESTION: I just started college and I'm just not sure what to expect. What is the biggest reality check students face once they are in college? What surprises them most? Signed, Getting Started

Dear Getting Started: When we were in high school we learned a lot of facts. From American history to biology to geometry, we learned what year the Declaration of Independence was signed, how photosynthesis worked and how to compute the area of a trapezoid. One of the biggest differences between high school and college is that in college you are required not only to know the facts but to apply the facts to support your opinions. You will debate your classmates, write papers that support a particular position and take final exams that test your interpretation of the big picture. It's not enough to memorize the facts. You need to interpret, manipulate and draw your own conclusions. This is perhaps one of the things that surprises as well as excites students the most when they start college.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.