A College University Can Teach You Necessary Job Skills

Some people are confused at the interchangeable use of the words "college" and "university" since they both refer to institutions of higher learning. The question is when to use one term versus the other.

The college university confusion is generally a matter of choice based upon today's vocabulary and usage of the words. There was a time when one specified something a little different from the other but, over time, the line of definition has blurred a bit.

There was a time when a university was comprised of a collective of colleges. The word university designated a community of teachers and scholars. The word college described a group of people living under a common set of rules.

With this college university origin of definition in mind, it's possible to consider a university as a large collective of smaller colleges. The colleges would, in turn, refer to the students enrolled, such as the medical students in the medical college, the teaching students in the teaching college, and so on.

In certain parts of the world, this college university terminology remains fairly close to tradition. In the United States, more leeway and interchangeability are allowed.

Here, a university may follow the example given above, with colleges devoted to a particular field of study. It also refers to student housing. For example, Rice University in Houston includes nine residential colleges (Hanszen, Brown, Lovett, etc.), where students enrolled in many different fields all live in the same dormitory or cluster of dormitories, depending upon which residential college they are assigned.

In the US, the college university difference may also refer to the degree programs offered. As a rule, colleges offer four-year bachelor's degrees but universities, which also offer bachelor's degrees, offer master's and doctorate degrees, too.

Some education history scholars attribute the college university confusion to the beginning of the higher education system in the first American colonies. When the country was developing and the first colleges founded, the collegiate founding fathers were often graduates of venerated British universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge. The schools established here were tiny and crude in comparison, deemed unworthy of the lofty designation as universities.

Regardless of what you choose to call it, a degree from a college university program is a blessing that will prove repeatedly invaluable over the course of a lifetime.