Some Differences Between College and...

Some Differences Between College and University

by Alexa Cairns
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

If you’re thinking of applying to either college or university, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. In Canada, college and university are two separate pathways. However, in other countries like the United States, college and university are considered the same thing and are one pathway altogether. There are many differences between college and university, and it’s encouraged to understand each before applying to make sure it’s the correct option for you. The main differences between the two options are the degrees, the amount of time it takes to earn those degrees, learning styles, pricing and of course, content.

Depending on the job you hope to acquire when you’re older, these pathways can determine your likelihood of getting a job based on the degree you get, and the suggested pathway for that specific field. In college, students typically spend 2-3 years earning either an associate’s degree or bachelor’s (undergraduate) degree. In university, students typically spend anywhere between 3 and 8 years earning a PhD, doctoral, master’s or bachelor’s degree.

It can take:

  • up to 8 years for a PhD ( doctoral degrees are 4-6 years)
  • master’s degrees are 1.5-2 years on top of the amount of time it takes to earn your bachelor’s,
  • and bachelor’s degrees usually take 3-4 years.

Depending on your field of interest, you may be spending a lot of time in school, or maybe, a little amount. For example, if you want to become a doctor, either a doctoral degree or a Ph. D is required. If you want to go into one of the trades such as an electrician, an associate’s degree from college is recommended.

Another important thing to keep in mind while choosing your pathway is the learning style; are you hands on? Or more book-worm oriented? Colleges and universities have separate teaching styles and provide the information in different ways to help students learn. In high school when selecting courses for grades 9-10, you are required to choose either applied, academic, workplace and open level courses. Applied typically leads to college, academic usually leads to university, workplace sometimes leads to community college or other pathways, and open leads to any of the above. However, if you take these courses, it doesn’t mean you can’t apply or be accepted into the other pathways, it just limits your likelihood. These types of courses also use different learning techniques. Applied uses hands-on learning while academic students are taught using books and listening to someone speak. Open level courses are often trades, arts and phys-ed courses in high school which can use any of the teaching techniques to accept all students and their learning styles. Workplace courses are courses such as Cooperative Education (CO-OP) to give students a better understanding of what it’s like to choose the workplace as their pathway after high school. Depending on your high school, these types of courses and levels may range. After grades 9-10, many high schools switch from applied and academic to college and university so students are better able to understand and plan the courses they are choosing based on their pathway.

Along with this, colleges and universities have a price difference. While attending both, the main costs are tuition, books, and transportation/housing if that applies to you. The price of books range from course to course. Transportation also depends on a variety of things; whether you have a car, are using public transportation, where you live, where your campus is, etc. Housing prices are typically the same at colleges and universities. However, the biggest price difference is tuition. The type of degree and course you choose to learn will determine the tuition price but universities are typically more expensive than colleges. For both, there are scholarships and financial aid available to students who are suited for it.

Despite all of these differences listed above, try to avoid choosing a pathway based on economic convenience. You need to do what makes you happy and what can lead to an independent lifestyle.  Instead, choose the pathway best suited for you and the career you hope to achieve.








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