The difference between "college" and "university"

"...we use the terms 'college' and 'university' inchangeably. 'She went to Michigan,' we say, or 'he goes to Oberlin'--not bothering with the noun that follows the name, as if a college and a university were the same thing. They are not. They are, to be sure, interconnected (most college teachers nowadays hold an advanced university degree), and a college may exist as a division or 'school' within in university. But a college and a university have--or should have--different purposes. The former is about transmitting knowledge of and from the past to undergraduate students so that they may draw upon it as a living resource in the future. The latter is mainly an array of research activities conducted by faculty and graduate students with the aim of creating new knowledge in order to supercede the past."    --   Andrew Delbanco, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), p. 2.


The terminology in this quote is specific to the American context. These definitions of "college" and "university" are not entirely accurate in the British and Canadian contexts, even though the American colleges of the 17th-early 19th centuries had their roots in the British universities (and their colleges) of Cambridge and Oxford, as Delbanco notes in the opening chapters of his book.

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