If you are in high school, you’re probably already looking at different colleges and universities and are ready to take that next step into adulthood. Excelsior College has some great programs to help you if you’ve already made up your mind about the field you want to enter and know what you want to do post-graduation.
However, there are quite a few things to consider when trying to apply to a college or university, so it’s important to take your time with this decision. Many people have trouble choosing between colleges and universities primarily because they simply don’t know the difference between the two. If you’re in a similar situation, the following is a breakdown of a few top differences to help you make the wisest choice for you.
What is a college?
The word college can actually mean a lot of different things. It can refer to an institution that grants degrees — much like a university — or it can be a place that offers short-term training that focuses on specific career skills. When it comes to colleges, there are basically three types to choose from.
A community college, also called a junior college at times, usually offer associate degrees, though some of them will offer certificate programs, as well. The programs in this type of college are usually two years long, and they are small schools which translates to more teacher interaction. They usually have open admission, meaning that you can just sign up for classes and go. Many students use the two year community college to get their associates, and then transfer to a four-year college afterwards.
Career colleges are also known as technical schools, vocational schools, and trade schools. They usually offer associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates that help you go straight out into the world and into the job you choose after graduation. Some, however, do offer bachelors and masters that take four years to complete. They brand themselves as universities, but won’t necessarily have everything a university offers. Programs offered in career college usually include HVAC repair, work in the healthcare industry, cosmetology, business, and many more.
Four-year colleges offer undergraduate and graduate educations to their students. These programs can be completed on-campus or online, depending on the school’s offering. Some, like liberal colleges, usually offer degrees in careers such as literature, history, math, languages, and life sciences, though institutions like Excelsior College have even greater catalogs. These colleges are usually private and offer a small-school environment for their students.
What is a university?
A university, like a college, is a degree-granting institution. The biggest difference between colleges and universities is that a university offers graduate programs that lead to a masters or doctorate in your field of choice. There are private and public universities, with different tuition prices of course. A university is much larger than a college and can be comprised of many different universities, such as Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School. Time is split in these universities between teaching and research, so there are schools for both.
When it comes time to choose between a university and a college, it’s best to do your research and find the one that is best tailored to the type of career you want to pursue. Remember, it’s important to get the education you need to make it in the adult world, not go to a college or university just because of the name. Additionally, it’s important to consider flexibility when it comes to attendance and taking classes. Many schools such as New York University, Excelsior College, and UMass, to name a few, are now offering hybrid and entirely-online degree programs to accommodate students with full-time jobs. This is the first major decision you make as an adult. Be sure to go with the option that fits best for you.