University or College? What is the Difference Anyway?

Let us talk about university.

University, like a lot of words, can be traced back to a Latin root.  That Latin root word is universitas which mean “a whole” or “a community”.  Before the rise of large schools in the Middle Ages, the word universitas would refer to guilds or communities of one sort or another.  The first university that can be historically traced back to its roots is the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy.  It is really pretty.  For the English speakers of the world, the oldest English speaking university is the University of Oxford in Oxford, England.  The university that I went to right out of college was the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK.  It is the oldest place of higher learning in Oklahoma being first opened for classes in 1890.

Notice above I said that I went to university after I got out of college.  Ever wonder what the difference between a college and a university is?  Well, in the United States they use the words interchangeably and they really should not.  A college is actually a part of a university or a small institution of higher learning that focuses on one or two fields.  In the US people think of colleges as either a university or the little community colleges.  The later of which is partially correct.  Let us look at an example. We will use the University of Oxford for this.  All Souls College, Pembroke College, St. Anne’s College, and Mansfield College are all colleges that are part of the University of Oxford and that is just a few of them. For those of you who are Tom Hiddleston fans, he is listed as having gone to Pembroke College.  That does not mean that he went to a little college in Pembroke.  No, he actually went to Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge.  Yeah, there is also a Pembroke College at Cambridge.  Confusing, I know.

So, do you go to college or a university?  Maybe you have gone to both!  I have gone to both.