College vs University! When you finish high school, where do you go next, to college or to university? Though it might seem that these two options are exactly the same, there actually are some differences between them. Unfortunately, not many people know about them and use these words interchangeably, calling every single higher education institution either a college or a university. However, if you want to make the best choice for your future, or if you simply want to have one less pair of confusing English words, it’s important that you solve the college vs university dilemma.
To put it simply, the main difference is that a COLLEGE offers only undergraduate programs, while a UNIVERSITY offers graduate, as well as undergraduate programs. Of course, they’re bound to be exceptions. Some institutions don’t “upgrade” their name when they start offering graduate programs and continue to call themselves colleges. This is the case with Boston College and Dartmouth College, for example.
A university is an institution that will provide you with a degree once you finish it. As a general rule, it’s larger than a college. However, as if it wasn’t confusing enough, a university can be divided into different colleges or schools. For instance, everyone’s heard of Harvard University. Still, there also is Harvard College, which is Harvard’s “subdivision” for undergraduate liberal arts. In addition, there is Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and eight more schools.
A university can be either public or private. A public university in the US receives funding from the state and the local government, and the students from the same state need to pay smaller fees to study there than students from other states. This is happening because of the idea that in-state students pay state taxes and thus support the university, while students from out of state don’t. Private universities, on the other hand, receive all their funding from tuition fees, donations, and endowments; not the government. Even though the fees of private universities are usually higher, financial aid that is provided to many students helps hide the difference.
In addition, a university can be either research or teaching. Even though both research and teaching are done at every university, how the time between the two is divided can make a big difference. A university that spends more resources on research is usually large and has many professors who are well-known experts in their fields and impressive facilities, such as all the latest equipment and a gigantic library. Still, because professors are usually too busy with research, the actual teaching can be done by teaching assistants. Finally, there are hundreds of students in the same class, making communication between a student and a professor very difficult.
A teaching university might not have as many facilities or accomplished experts that the whole country talks about as professors, but there you’ll certainly see your professor more often. Sure, nothing can stop a dedicated professor from also doing research, but his main job in such a university is to teach.
When it comes to colleges, the same word can mean several different things. First, there’s a career college: an institution that provides job-oriented training that is there to prepare you to jump right into the workforce after you graduate. Most programs take two years or less to complete, and yet some career colleges offer full undergraduate or even graduate programs that need four or more years of studies. In fact, a career college can even call itself a university, even though it obviously will be very different from the universities that were discussed above.
There also are community colleges. These offer associate degrees or, in some cases, certificate programs that take two years to complete. They are smaller than other universities, cheaper, and easier to enroll in. This is why some students prefer to go to a community college for two years and go to a university for two more years after that to get their bachelor’s degree, thus saving a lot of money.
Finally, there are liberal arts colleges. They offer undergraduate programs that need four years to complete. There aren’t many majors to choose from but most of the areas, such as history, literature, life sciences, math, and languages are covered. Some liberal arts colleges exist on their own, some are a part of a bigger university. Most of them are private, small, and the emphasis is made on teaching, not on research.
College vs University Examples
- Their son will start college in September.
- The college offers a wide range of sporting activities.
- I studied modern European history at college.
- The college entrance examination is a real challenge.
- He was invited to lecture on American literature at our college.
- The university graduated 500 students last year.
- He was visiting professor of geology at the University of Jordan.
- Did you go to the university yesterday?
- The university welcomes applications from overseas students.
- She was well educated in literature at a university.