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Mar 04, 2017 08:38 AM EST

College vs University: The Differences and Similarities

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When students begin to explore their options when it comes to higher education, their choices will include colleges and universities. And telling the difference between the two can be difficult.

In the United States, these terms are commonly being used interchangeably but using them correctly is important. According to Best Value Schools, most people believe that colleges pertain to the private institutions, and universities are the state funded schools, but these are not their real difference.

The difference boils down to the size of the school system, according to USA Today College. In universities, full undergraduate and graduate programs are being offered, which means that it consists of many different schools under its system. They offer graduate programs leading to a masters or PhD degree. A college, on the other hand, is a smaller institution that also offers undergraduate degrees. Some colleges offer two year courses, like the community colleges.

However, you may also be wondering why some colleges offer extensive undergraduate and graduate programs and yet they are not called universities. It is actually because not all institutions who can qualify to be called as a university choose to be called a university. Some of these schools prefer to stick with college simply because of tradition.

In the typical American usage of university, it connotes this certain sense of prestige that college does not have, Grammartist says, although there really are universities who have chosen to be called a college out of tradition. However, when being used during normal conversations, people would say they are attending college even if you are going to a university.

Another similarity between the two is that both are using and issuing bachelor's degree, and there is not much of a difference when it comes to the difficulty level in the college admissions process.

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