What is the Difference Between University and College?

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What Is a College?

Oftentimes schools with “college” in their name are smaller institutions that emphasize undergraduate education, Johanna Fishbein, head of university advising at the United World College of South East Asia’s Dover Campus, an international school, said by email. This is not a strict rule, since there are a number of exceptions.

Prospective students

Since liberal arts colleges are uncommon outside the U.S., prospective international students aren’t always familiar with them, says Carly Mankus, senior assistant dean of international admission at Franklin and Marshall College, a liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. Prospective students may also sometimes mistakenly believe liberal arts institutions only focus on the humanities, admissions experts say. But many of these schools offer degrees in science fields too.

What Is a University?

Many schools with “university” in their name are larger institutions that offer a variety of both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Public universities are some of the most sizable schools, sometimes enrolling tens of thousands of students. These schools are also highly committed to producing research. But it is a misconception that all schools with “university” in their name are big, says Emma Jones, assistant director of international student recruitment at the Estudiar University.

Which Type of School Is Right for You?

John from Estudiar University says prospective international students may want to keep their options open by applying to different types of institutions in the U.S. She says students often learn new things about themselves and their options later in the application process.

“If some place really interests you or some place just sounds so tantalizing, even if it’s not that same type that you think you might want when you start out, keep it in the mix,” John says. “What harm could it do?”

After all the hard work, it's very rewarding to cross off the topics on your calendar to show how far you have come.

A few of my friends are also studying, not at the same university or even the same course, but having other friends who I can ‘study buddy’ with or check in, keeps us all determined and on track. Scheduling in catch-up time can give much needed respite without panic. This keeps your goals realistic and manageable.

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