As students get into the swing of the school year, many will be taking a look not only at their current studies, but their upcoming college plans as well. The thought of going to college and furthering one's education raises many questions, concerns and a lot of confusion. What is best for me? What is the difference between a college and a university?
A university versus a college is usually considered to be a matter of size. Universities are large and colleges are small, right? Generally, the answer is yes. Most universities do have larger enrollments than colleges because they are a collection of colleges placed on one campus that include both undergraduate and graduate programs, with a wide array of courses.
Seniors in high school look for schools that offer a variety of courses because they are not sure what kind of job they want. They are also looking for a nice campus, good academics and good social aspects. Until recently, universities were institutions that offered extensive masters and doctoral programs which added to the perception that universities were academically better.
The presumption, however, that universities are somehow academically better than colleges is not accurate - especially for undergraduates who may be treated as a low priority by faculty members. The institution's faculty may treat graduate students as a higher priority.
Don't assume that all universities are large disciplinary institutions. In all but three states (New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey), any college can rename itself a university regardless of size or academic offerings.
College-bound students should never view a college as inferior to a university. On the contrary, many of the very best undergraduate environments are colleges, for example, Swarthmore, Williams, and Haverford. v
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.