Subject Material

Universities and Colleges

Published: 06.09.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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Did you know that you need a high school diploma to flip hamburgers at McDonald's? Then it should be no surprise that 67.2% of the graduating classes of 2007 enrolled in colleges and universities. People with a bachelor's degree earn over 60% more than those with a high school diploma! College is an investment for the future.

Academic Graduate Studio Portrait. Photo.Academic Graduate Studio Portrait 

Scholastic Aptitude Test. Photo.The SAT is one of the two national standardized college entrance examinations used in the US. The other is the ACT.Scholastic Aptitude Test   
UCLA cheerleaders. Foto.UCLA cheerleaders  

A student who has graduated from high school may apply to continue his/her education at a college or a university. To begin with a student must take a standardized test in his/her senior year called the SAT's (Scholastic Aptitude Tests). Certain colleges may also require additional entrance tests. The results from these tests, together with high school grades - and don't forget the extra curricular/volunteer activities that we mentioned earlier - form the basis for college and university admittance.

School Fairs

Students begin looking at various colleges as early as their junior year. It is a long process and a big decision which requires time and thought by both student and parents. Guidance counselors provide the basic information for students. Then student/parents begin gathering more specific information about schools of interest. School fairs are held where representatives from local colleges present their programs. During summer months parents take road trips with their child to visit several colleges and campuses across the country.

Acceptance or Rejection

As you are not guaranteed acceptance into your chosen school, students send out applications to several other schools as back ups. Application forms are lengthy and tedious. Often, you are required to submit an essay, as well as letters of recommendation. A sigh of relief is released as the applications are dropped in the mailbox. Then it is a "wait and see" game. Acceptance or rejection letters will arrive in the early spring and you will either jump with joy or shed a few tears. Nevertheless, come fall your bags will be packed and you will be embarking on a new journey!

College vs University

What is the difference between a college and a university? Colleges, which are often smaller in size than universities, usually offer undergraduate courses leading to a bachelor’s degree. These programs may vary from two to four years. Universities, on the other hand, are much larger in size, offering both undergraduate and graduate courses. They will vary from a four year program and up.

Bachelor, Graduate and Doctorate Degrees

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree (typically completion of a four year program) the student then graduates once again. The ceremony is very similar to high school graduation, but much larger in number. From here the choice is yours. Many students see this day as the end and a new beginning. They have finally completed their educational path and are now eager to launch forward into the working world. Finding the right job is a tedious process and their first job will certainly not be their last. Other students have higher educational ambitions and will continue their education as a graduate student. These students are working towards a master’s degree and perhaps even a doctorate.

3000 Choices

There is a wide range of colleges and universities to choose from, approximately 3,000 in all, and these vary greatly in size, standards and fees. In the state of Massachusetts, home to the famous Harvard University, you can choose between 122 colleges and universities! Seven out of ten of the world's best universities are found in the US, with Harvard University ranking as number one!

 

Tasks and Activities

Comprehension

  1. What test is needed before you can apply to college?
  2. What qualifications do colleges seek for admission?
  3. Name some ways that students can find out more information about colleges.
  4. Name a few things that may be required along with the application form.
  5. What is the difference between a college and a university?
  6. What are the three main types of degrees one can obtain at a college/university?

Further Reading

University/College Tuition