Colleges differ greatly in academic support services and academic approaches. Some colleges meet students where they are academically and help them plan courses and course loads that will help them succeed. Some offer review courses to prepare for courses that are a challenge. Colleges that provide such support services are great places for students who are still learning effective study and time management techniques. These colleges also often offer excellent academic advising services and learning labs to help students in areas like mathematics and writing and free tutorial services.
By contrast, there are also colleges that expect a very high level of functioning and readiness when the student arrives on campus to begin his freshman year. These colleges are best for students who excelled in the most challenging courses offered at their high school, who sailed through SAT/ACT tests and who have an affinity for choosing appropriate academic programs and courses and managing their academic lives.
Parents and students need to include these factors in their evaluation of prospective colleges. The academic expectation of the college is explained at college open houses. Support services that colleges provide are also outlined in admissions presentations to prospective students and their families. The question for the family and the student is: For which type of college academic experience has the student been prepared? The answer lies in the academic rigor of the high school attended, the number of AP and other advanced courses taken, performance on standardized tests and grades earned.