Is a University degree better than a College degree?

I’m thinking of a bachelors degree here, would it be assumed by most people that my degree from Metro State College is inferior to a similar degree from CU? I had class sizes around 30, face to face interaction with the professor, no student teachers, at a fraction of the cost vs. what I’ve heard are class sizes in the hundreds, taught in auditoriums by students, and weird requirements like living on campus your first year and paying a premium for all this.
Is it just because only the crème de la crème is accepted into a university, or do they really provide a better education for the undergrads?
Several of the guys I work with are university grads, and they seem to be the type that would excel no matter where they went to school.

What do you think? Is the university worth the cost? Should I have got a loan 20 years ago and gone to one?

IMO a university education will open doors earlier on in your career, but after that it’s about results.

Attending an Ivy League school will always look good on a resume, but for most jobs it’s about experience and success.

Most of the richest people in the world didn’t attend university - it’s certainly no substitute for hard graft and dedication.

In 90% of the jobs and fields out there, it makes no difference whatsoever. It’s the peice of paper that matters. Experience helps, as well. But an accountant from Yale gets the same pay as an accountant from Arizona State. As **e-logic ** noted, the Ivy League diploma might open a few dooors right away, but in the long run nobody cares where you went to school.

Anecdote: About 10 years ago a fellow teacher and good friend was giving me a hard time about my degree from a California State school. The end of the conversation went something like this:

Him: Cal State? (derisive laughter)
Me: Tom, you went to Georgetown, right?
Him: Yes.
Me: Where do we both work? I’m really not seeing any percentage here.

A uiversity consists of various colleges. The distinction is mostly one of semantics.
At this point it is the experience of the past 20 years and how you use it that will impress a prospective employer not where you got a degree.

In my OP, when I said “I’m thinking of a bachelors degree here”, I didn’t mean I’m thinking of *getting *a bachelors degree, but comparing two bachelors degrees one from a college and one from a university.

Well I’m certainly not going to start my education over at this age, nor toss away my Metro experience, just curious as to the difference. Financial advisors all seem to assume that both of my kids are going to go to a prestigious university, NPR just had a thing about UCLA (I think) not having enough minorities, and I got to wondering what the big deal is. I got a good bit of my education from people who, during the day, work in the field they teach at night. I missed out on the “college experience” (which I assume = living in a dorm, drunken frat parties, etc.), but someone must believe that it’s worth the money.
I’m not sure I buy that it’s just semantics (and I’m just talking about the US here) because, except for a couple of places like Boston College, I don’t think you can get a Masters or Doctorate at a college. Wiki claims that Georgia is different and calls all 4 year colleges universities and vocational schools are colleges, but that’s an anomaly.

Would anyone recommend trying to get a normal kid into Big University? Scrimp and save for the next 10 years to pay for 4 years at CU Boulder? Is it worth it, beyond the first job?

I’m interested that you say universities have more competitive admissions. Certainly this is not true for most state schools.

I teach at a university, and I’d prefer my small liberal arts college experience any day. I took two classes of 70 people; the rest averaged 10-15. I recently ran into a professor from whom I took one class 25 years before, but he recognized me and greeted me byname from across a crowded professional conference.

I have a graduate degree from a university, and another one from a college (it’s now a university, but at the time had only a small graduate program). Yes, the university degree gets more recognition, but no, it wasn’t the more rigorous or enjoyable of those two degrees.

What matters most is the training a person receives. When I participate in graduate admissions, I don’t care where the person went, but I do care how s/he articulates what s/he’s learned thus far and how my graduate program will fit with that.

I don’t think you can make broad distinctions between universities and colleges. They are mostly semantics in the US. My alma mater (Dartmouth College) is only a college in name. It really functions as a university.

What school issued your degree is important, but I think think people look at the rest of the name rather than if it’s a college or a university.

One thing that matters is whether or not you look at higher educaton as being about job skills. This is not the only way to see it, though it is certainly a way. If what you are looking to do is to aquire a certain set of skills, then you need to look at the specifics of that training program, be it at a university or college, and certainly being in the same institution with big names that you have no contact with has little advantage.

That said, college can provide more than just job skills. It’s worth something to go somewhere new and have to live in a new enviroment, It’s worth something to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who have very different backgrounds than you. It’s worth something to develop a broad base of knowledge. However, all these things also carry signifigant costs–expense being the most obvious, but also the risk that you will crash and burn, or fail to have the tools you need to support yourself after college. The right choice is going to be different for different people, but there are arguements on both sides.

The only thing that is affected by college vs university is where you get your first job. After that, nobody cares where you studied, they care about what you know how to do.

The big difference is in social networking. A small , state college in Ohio is going to have students mostly from Ohio, and if you get average grades, you are likely to find a job in Ohio.

But if you go to Yale, you are more likely to meet students with wider contacts, and that can help you out when you’re just getting started.
Look at a couple of Yalies,who both got C’s in most of their classes: G Bush and John Kerry. Suppose they had gotten C grades at Ohio State University’s campus in Akron,…

Speaking generally, you’ve created an irrelevant dichotomy and drawn some very inaccurate conclusions. When it comes to cost and prestige, it’s not a matter of university vs. college. There are academically terrible universities, there are cheap universities, there are academically wonderful colleges and there are through-the-nose-expensive colleges. For example, a bachelor’s degree in any one of a number of liberal arts majors from Williams College or Amherst is far more prestigious than the same degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder to use your example (although CU is a fine school, my point is Amherst and Williams are more prestigious even though they’re not universities). Moreover, contrary to your suggestion, universities aren’t necessarily more expensive than colleges (using two of the schools above as examples: you’re looking at in-state tuition of $5k a year at CU versus $30k at Williams) Additionally, as **spingears ** noted, a university is made up of colleges. If you graduate from a university, you have graduated from a college. I think your question – is it really worth is? – makes sense in the context of large prestigious state universities, versus large prestigious private universities, versus smaller prestigious colleges and universities, versus less prestigious state colleges and universities. So again prestige doesn’t necessarily equal university, there are plenty of expensive prestigious smaller colleges and plenty of cheap less prestigious large universities.

I was going to use the same example, but wasn’t sure whether there was more than one college at Dartmouth. Upon talking to a Dartmouth grad at my firm, I’ve confirmed that there are indeed other colleges in addition to arts and sciences (specifically,business, medicine and engineering). The colleges I used as examples are, I believe, true colleges.

Again, there is some confusion as to what you mean by “college” vs “university”. A college is usually focused on undergraduate education (and that can span anything from a junior or community college through Ivies). A university has undergraduates as well as graduate and/or professional schools. Dartmouth has business, medicine and engineering professional schools, not “colleges”, and is therefore more like a university than its name might imply.

I’ve never heard of a distinction between college vs university degrees in terms of earning power. Nor do I suspect there is any, for reasons Whole Bean set out well. In fact, the most recent study I read essentially said that while a 4-year degree definitely improves your earning potential, looking 10 or 20 years down the line, where you got your degree from is relatively irrelevant. Sorry - no cite.

Ok, I guess I possibly phrased this wrong, or more probably underestimated the number of universities out there. Thinking mostly of places with sports teams vs. public colleges, you see.

I have no problem with my Metro degree, and unless they get a hell of a good scholorship (or turn out to be brilliant) I’m not sending my kids to CU. The news around here uses the word “university” to mean CU or CSU, and I’ve been totally uninterested in the distinction since 1988.

Should have thought the question out a little better, I guess. Sorry.

I still can’t make sense of exactly what you are asking. There are about 3000 colleges and universities in the U.S. Most states have some of both and each type and, even if you could break it down cleanly, have the full range of price and prestige.

Are you saying that college = crappy local place that the slackers go to and universities = huge institutions with a full range of services? Is that the basis for the debate?

You’re right. My loose use of college to refer to a school within a university is confusing, but, contrary to your post, the term “school” (as opposed to “college”) is not universal for universities. Having not surveyed every single university in the U.S., I cannot with certainty say what the “usual” nomenclature for these schools is, but I assure you that they are often called colleges. Just for example, see UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences , Cornell College of Arts and Sciences and not just for arts and sciences Fischer College of Business at Ohio State University, The University of Florida College of Medicine and the University of Michigan College of Engineering

This is exactly the point I was trying to make. I didn’t use Dartmouth as an example of a college, because, as Dartmouth alum Telemark noted, it functions as a university.

Not to pile on you, but most high profile sports teams come from “public” universities. Take for example the finalist in the BCS, USC and Texas, or the NCAA Basketball Tournament, UF and UCLA, all public. In fact, there are very few perennially good college football teams from private universities, Notre Dame and Miami being two that come to mind. Basketball is a little different. This actually brings me to my next point . . .

In my opinion, flagship public state schools (of which CU is one – most states have two, some more) are the best bang for the buck. I give you UNC Chapel Hill, UVA, Michigan, Texas, UGA, UF – all great schools and very reasonably priced for in-state residents (Colorado Boulder is only $5k a year and it has a fine reputation). IMHO, and take it for what it’s worth, a degree from a fifth tier local school might have worked out okay for some, but don’t prejudice your kids with an insistence on that if a reasonable opportunity (i.e. acceptance) at a good flagship state university presents itself. Seriously, depending on the field, a second tier or lower degree can present a significant hurdle to acceptance for graduate studies at reputable schools. All this over $5k a year? Hell, they can borrow the money for Uncle Sam at a ridiculously low interest rate, I did.

Note, I am not saying mortgage the farm to pay the ridiculously inflated tuition of a Harvard or a Yale or a Duke or a Vanderbilt, but it is entirely possible to work your way through an upper tier state school with financial aid and a part-time job (my wife did it at UGA).

Think “College of Law” (I could give you at least 50 cites) – which is in most if not all (LLBs?) a graduate study. Sorry I missed this the first time, though I kind of covered it. Alls I’m sayin is “college” can and is a term applied to a school within a university.

The USC that lost to Texas in the Rose Bowl is private:


I think my point still holds. Here’s last year’s Coaches’ Poll top twenty five:

1 Texas
3 Penn State
4 Ohio State
6 West Virginia
7 Virginia Tech
8 Alabama
10 Georgia
11 Notre Dame
12 Oregon
14 Auburn
15 Wisconsin
16 Florida
17 Boston College
18 Miami
19 Texas Tech
20 Louisville
21 Clemson
22 Oklahoma
23 Florida State
24 Nebraska
25 California

overwhelming majority (19 or 20) are public