Colleges vs. Universities vs. Schools:
The difference between a college and a university is that a college just offers a collection of degrees in one specific area while a university is a collection of colleges. When you go to a university you are going to be graduating from one of their colleges, such as the business college. As to which is better, it depends on what you want. Single colleges tend to be smaller while universities are bigger, but universities are better known.
Explanations from other contributors:
Those of us who work here commonly refer to it as "the university," and as a Virginia Charter University, which has allowed William & Mary a large degree of independence from the commonwealth, all new employees are now "university employees" vice "state employees" as the college now has its own human resources structure separate from (but similar to) the commonwealth's HR structure. Current "state employees" also have the option to convert to "university employees." Bottom line: While W&M operates at a level commonly equated to universities, it chooses to maintain the title of college for historical reasons. I suspect that Dartmouth College has the same or similar reasoning for not taking on the title of university, although it certainly would be justified in doing so.
1) Community colleges absolutely do now offer bachelor degrees and not always in conjunction with a 4-year college or university. This is a new trend in the US and many are fighting it, because that wasn't the purpose behind the community college concept when it was first developed.
2) Universities are not more prestigious than colleges. I defy anyone to tell me that MIT, which isn't a university, isn't as prestigious as Harvard University.
3) In answer to this post: "A university confers degrees up to PhD. A 4-year college confers Bachelors and Masters degrees. (BA,BS & MA, MS) A 2-year or community college confers the associate degree. (AA or AS)": There are many colleges that offer doctoral degrees. In the US, a "4-year college" does not offer a masters. That goes beyond the 4 years. As I wrote before, many community and 2-year colleges offer bachelor degrees.
4) Last point, in answer to "The difference between a college and a university is that a college just offers a collection of degrees in one specific area, while a university is a collection of colleges": Universities contain colleges and universities offer the degree. For example, my degree is from the University of Illinois, not from the College of Education. I earned the degree through the COE, but UI granted the degree.
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