It is not uncommon for first year college students to underestimate the additional time, self-motivation, studying and growing that is required to be successful. Actually, many students initially think of college as a continuation of high school but with benefits. The benefit in most cases of living away from home the first time. The benefit of having the option of going to class or not without parents knowing. The benefit of staying up as late as they want, going out and coming in whenever they want. What a deal, right?!!
When do they figure it out? After the first of three semester exams in one course that they don’t pass? No, because they have two remaining exams. After the 2nd exam of three exams they don’t pass? They are now starting to get a sinking feeling that they’re over their heads. They start to do the math and realize after doing poorly on two exams, even if they passed the last one, their final grade wouldn’t be that great.
If they are smart, they will seek help on campus (i.e. seeing an Academic Counselor, tutoring). Maybe they’ll come clean with their parents and their parents will suggest they set up a meeting with their instructor to ask for help. Maybe they will figure out which of their friends make good grads and start modeling themselves after them.
It’s after the first semester that students whether good or bad realize college is not grade 13! As the movie character Shrek would say, it’s like an onion, it has layers.