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In general, "prestige" implies that someone will be impressed by the name on your degree. Usually, in the US, that has a lot more to do with how selective a given school is than what sort of education it may offer. There are regional differences in which schools are accorded the most prestige but, in general, there are many colleges that are supremely difficult to get in to, and they are usually more prestigious than, say, a state university that is not very selective.

I am afraid that question is more complicated that it seems, and there is no easy answer.

It depends on the institution and the program (major) completed. The use of the words "College" or "University" do not automatically bestow prestige. Some people believe that a University implies a better education, but there are plenty of superb institutions that are "Colleges" because the name has been handed down through history. Wellesley and Bryn Mawr are both prestigious institutions with the word "College" in their names.

Perhaps the most important thing is to choose an institution that is right for you. The right size, the right program, the right location. Use the national rankings to choose for excellence. There is always prestige in excellence.

In addition to the response above - The most important thing is that if you have learned something from an institution you're in. Yes, you maybe in a university or best colleges, but it does not guarantee you that you'll learn. Learning process starts to us individuals....

A university generally has a graduate school as well as an undergraduate institution of learning. As an undergrad, you would have probably nothing to do with the graduate students unless they were teaching your courses. Both colleges and universities have an equal likelihood of prestige.

College or university is not important where education is concern. Learning in right manner is important not the institution.


The College of William and Mary kept college in its title after it became a university. It was the first college in the US to become a university. William and Mary has more prestige than most schools.

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βˆ™ 2015-07-16 18:10:17
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βˆ™ 2016-03-18 14:32:01

To answer this question, let's take a look at two schools:

Dartmouth College

University of California - Irvine

Both are great schools, but Dartmouth is ranked much higher than UC Irvine. And arguments about ranking aside (because I know there are many!), most would argue that Dartmouth is more prestigious than UC Irvine, despite having "college" in the name.

To take it one step further, Harvard University, arguably one of the best schools in the world, has "University" in the name. Same as UC Irvine; different from Dartmouth.

So, it is pretty clear that "university" vs. "college" bears no wait on a school's prestige.

When it comes time to figure out where YOU should apply and, even more, where YOU should attend, how the school is named should be the absolute last last last thing on your list of considerations. Why? Because it doesn't matter!

The most important thing is to go to the BEST school you can get into.

And here's why:

First, like it or not, brand names matter. We can have a separate debate on whether they should matter, but it won’t change the fact having “Harvard” or “Columbia” or “University of Chicago” on your resume makes a powerful statement. So to the extent that rankings affect an employer’s assumptions about a job applicant’s potential, then they should continue to be an important determinant for your target school list.

Second, the college experience is more profoundly influenced by the caliber of his peers than by any other factor (student-to-faculty ratio, class size, urban/rural). More than ever, college is about building a network for the future. Better to be surrounded by curious, diverse, ambitious peers who will be successful in the future than to spend time and money on a campus “near a bustling city.”

THAT is what you should think about when considering your future college plans. The caliber of the school matters, not how it is named :)

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