College? University? We often use them to mean the same thing, but they do have slightly different meanings. Understanding these differences can make it a little easier when learning more about your educational opportunities. So take a minute to check out our quick (and we mean really quick) guide to understanding what these terms mean and how they relate to you.

What is a college?

In regards to places that people go to earn degrees, a college is “an institution of higher learning that grants the bachelor’s degree in liberal arts or science or both.” Colleges can stand on their own, as in the case of liberal arts colleges where the campus contains only one school. However, you’ll often hear the terms used interchangeably, as in, “I went to college at University of Washington.”

For practical purposes, a college is a school you go to in order to earn an undergraduate degree.

What is a university?

One of the best ways to understand how this differs from a ‘college’ is to think of the word ‘universe.’ A universe is a collection of galaxies, all in one place. In this same way, a university is usually a collection of colleges or schools, all gathered in one place. Because of this, universities are usually bigger with more majors to choose from.

In some cases, colleges can also be universities, but, for the most part, they stick to our guidelines above. For you own sanity, just know that they do the same thing: help you earn a degree.

Do you still have some questions about colleges and universities? Tell us in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them!

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