As today’s students prepare to enter the post secondary learning environment they are confronted with many issues. For some it is a question of finance, for others it is program and family concerns, and for still others a matter of finding that right fit socially, economically and geographically. So what is the differences between a college and university learning environment?
The diversity of today’s student population has moved this discussion well beyond the simple principles of even the 90’s. The advent of technology, online and blended learning environments, and even new early college programs, along with embedded high schools within college environments has given new meaning and understanding to the term dual enrollment and the dynamics of change in both colleges and universities. Any discussion here would however need to begin with the basic understandings of the differences between colleges and universities.
First, college is defined by Webster’s Online (2010) as; “an institution of higher education that grants degrees, as a bachelor's degree after a four-year course or an associate degree after a two-year course: it is sometimes the undergraduate division of a university." (na) There are of course a number of institutional environments that fit into the college category.
First are the technical colleges. These are certificate based short term institutions that are specific to a certain subject or training. There may be numerous offerings but they are all specific to the desired certification or training desired. These are schools like the International Academy of Design and Technology in Tampa, Florida and Southeastern Institute in Columbia, South Carolina.
Next are the Community Colleges. In their original inception they were intended to be a bridge between high school and university. Reasons for attending community college were and are as diverse as the population itself. In a community college you will find the student who wants to stay close to home and save money while getting started in their post secondary studies. You will also find the second career student adult learner who is either trying to start a new career or updating current credentials for job enhancement. You will also find that student who is at risk or a casualty of high stakes testing who simply wants to get started pursuing their dream in an environment that is smaller in size and financial commitment and thus more comfortable.