KNOW MORE ABOUT COLLEGES
A.Universities in the United States - Universities VS. Colleges: In the United States in general, people do not distinguish between the terms “university” and “college”. In many contexts, these two terms can be considered the same and interchangeable. In fact, Americans will use the term “college” a lot more than the term “university” when referring to higher education. Regardless of its casual usage, these words can also helpfully define different types of schools that are present in the United States.
a.University: A university typically contains both undergraduate and graduate programs. Its enrollment can range from ~5,000 students at the lower end to more than 60,000 students, such as at Ohio State University. A part of universities in the United States are publicly-funded state universities, the other part are large private universities as well, such as Boston University. These schools typically have a larger focus on research than on teaching, with many more resources available for the graduate schools, and many times the professors will not teach undergraduate courses, instead relying on their teaching assistants. Not all universities are called “university”, such as the College of William and Mary and Dartmouth College.
b.Liberal Arts College (LAC): A liberal arts college typically contains only an undergraduate component, though there are exceptions. These schools’ enrollments are on the lower end of the scale, capping their enrollment at ~3,000 students on the higher end. Usually, these schools have ~2,000 at any given time. Unlike universities, liberal arts colleges tend to be private colleges, with limited government funding. These schools’ focus is more on teaching than on research, with nearly all of a student’s classes being taught by the professor itself. Despite smaller resources for research compared to a bigger university, there also tends to be more research opportunities for the undergraduate students here. Not all liberal arts colleges are called “college”, such as Wesleyan University and Furman University.
c.Specialized Colleges: In addition to the two main categories of universities and liberal arts colleges, there are also many different types of specialized colleges that fit within, without, and in-between these two big categories.
i.Women’s Colleges: These schools, all of which are liberal arts colleges, exclusively enroll women and cater to their development. These colleges have strong and extensive support for women’s issues and help foster and promote strong, confident women. Since they are liberal arts colleges, they will have the same strong focus on teaching as other liberal arts schools, and in addition, since fewer students apply, there is also a greater chance to be accepted.
ii. Religious Schools: There are actually two types of schools that can be considered “religious” schools. The first type is the school where religion is an integral part of campus life. These schools, such as Brigham Young University and Yeshiva University, promote their respective religions as essential to and integral to the education of their students. These schools are the ones which will have rules such as no cohabitation between men and women and no caffeine or alcohol on campus.
Then there are those religious schools like Notre Dame University and many Jesuit universities like Boston College where religion is a part of the culture, but not an integral part of student life. In these schools, many of the students will be very religious, and everyone will be required to take religion classes like theology, but students are not as restricted by rules concerning alcohol or dress codes.
iii. Undergraduate Business Programs: There are colleges in the United States that offer undergraduate business degrees. These schools include standalone colleges like Babson College and Bentley University as well as colleges contained within larger universities, like the Wharton School in the University of Pennsylvania. These undergraduate programs should be distinguished from
MBA’s, which are Masters in Business Administration. MBA’s are earned in graduate business schools, hence the Masters. Though not as prestigious as MBA programs, these undergraduate business schools nevertheless provide high quality education in business management that can be useful for the future.
iv.Art, Design, and Music Schools: These schools are institutes focused almost exclusively on their respective disciplines, whether it is art, architecture, music, etc. In order to apply, a student oftentimes has to already have a decent-sized portfolio. Admission to these schools, such as the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the Juilliard School, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), the California School for the Arts, etc., is very competitive and requires the applicant to already be very skilled and have had years of experience in his or her craft. In addition to these highly competitive programs, many universities and LACs also contain individual colleges that offer these specialized programs. Oberlin College, for example, also contains a world-class conservatory.
v.Science and Technology School: These schools have a particular focus on science and engineering topics. Though these schools may also offer topics like linguistics and other humanities, for the most part their focus is on the advancement and teaching of science and engineering. Standalone schools include institutes like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and Olin College. In many cases, these schools have extensive collaborations with industry contacts, and projects coming out of places like the Media Lab at MIT can go on to many commercial uses. In addition, nearly all universities also have science and engineering programs within their respective colleges.
d. Community Colleges: These colleges usually offer two-year associate degrees. In many cases, a student attending a community college can go on to transfer to a four-year university.
B. Universities in the United Kingdom: Universities in the United Kingdom follow a different system from the United States. In the UK, a four-year higher education institution is called a “university”, and with “college” clearly meaning the school contained within the university.
Universities in the United Kingdom tend to all follow the same model, without a lot of diversity between the schools. In addition, applying to these schools is fairly straightforward, with students applying specifically for the university, college, and their respective major. Notable examples include the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and Durham University.
C. Universities in Canada: Universities in Canada tend to follow the British system of higher education, with a university containing various individual colleges and not a whole lot of diversity of schools. Unlike in the UK, applicants to Canadian schools can choose undecided major when they apply. Examples of Canadian schools include McGill University, University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Waterloo.