Julie is <in or at> university [+ university vs college]

< Previous | Next >

spodulike

Senior Member
English - England
Hello

On a thread in a different forum I said the following

"Julia is at university"

A US English speaker said the the US usage is

"Julia is in unversity"

Is this general throughout the US? In Britain we would never say "in"
 
  • Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    Honestly, around here we are far more likely to say:
    I'm in college. It includes universities. "At" sounds completely wrong for both university and college, at least to me.
     

    SDLX Master

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Peru
    I take it it's all in the eye of the beholder. I would say "at" if I am making reference to someone's geographical location and "in" if the reference is the fact that someone is actually a duly registered student.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Hello

    On a thread in a different forum I said the following

    "Julia is at university"

    A US English speaker said the the US usage is

    "Julia is in unversity"

    Is this general throughout the US? In Britain we would never say "in"
    This is a consistent AE<>BE difference. AE: at college or, less frequently, in college, BE: at university.


    AE tends not to use in + type of institution. For example, BE uses "in hospital" while AE prefers in the hospital.
     

    chasfh

    Senior Member
    English - US
    In the US, we almost always say that someone is "in college" or "away at college" (if they are living on campus away from home). Even though colleges and universities are different here--universities grant postgraduate degrees, colleges do not--we almost never make that distinction in this context:

    "Ian is away at college."
    "Yeah? Where does he go?"
    "University of Michigan."
    "Yeah? Wolverines suck."


    When we hear someone here with a relatively flat accent say that so-and-so is "at university", we know they're from Canada.

    Someone studying for a bachelor's degree is an "undergraduate". When someone goes on for a master's degree or beyond, we say he is neither "at college" or "at university", but rather he is a "graduate student" at "graduate school" conducting his "postgraduate studies". (He is not at "postgraduate school" and he is not conducting his "graduate studies".)
     

    ChuaTang

    Member
    Japanese
    This is a consistent AE<>BE difference. AE: at college or, less frequently, in college, BE: at university.
    But the American person (Chasfh) in the post following yours said that in AE they always say "in college".
    I take it that the usage of "college" varies from place to place in the USA, is that so?

    Respectfully,
    Chua.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    But the American person (Chasfh) in the post following yours said that in AE they always say "in college".
    I take it that the usage of "college" varies from place to place in the USA, is that so?

    Respectfully,
    Chua.
    Hello Chua,

    Indeed he did, and then attempted, successfully it seems, to sow confusion with his example, which uses "at college". :) He also said that colleges do not grant postgraduate degrees, which is a patently false assertion. Some do.


    Results 1 - 10 of about 158,000 for "He's at college".
    Results 1 - 10 of about 117,000 for "He's away at college".
    Results 1 - 10 of about 15,100 for "He's in college".


    Those are Google predictions.
     

    chasfh

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Hello Chua,

    Indeed he did, and then attempted, successfully it seems, to sow confusion with his example, which uses "at college". :)
    Why are you casting aspersions on my motives? That is, to use language you will surely understand, "patently" uncool. Instead, why not simply point out how my post is wrong, without the personal dig?

    He also said that colleges do not grant postgraduate degrees, which is a patently false assertion.
    Instead of just calling me wrong and then walking away, why don't you provide examples of how exactly I am wrong? Tell you what: I'll start the ball rolling with support for my "assertion":

    http://www.questionsaboutcollege.com/what-is-the-difference-between-a-college-and-a-university.htm

    Colleges and Universities Differ in Degree Offerings
    If a university is a collection of colleges, it makes sense that universities have larger student bodies. Class size tends to be larger at universities, and professors are often prized for their research accomplishments as well as their teaching efforts. Often, student to faculty ratios can be smaller at colleges. Universities confer degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, whereas colleges tend to deal exclusively with four-year bachelor's degrees.
     

    ChuaTang

    Member
    Japanese
    Results 1 - 10 of about 158,000 for "He's at college".
    Results 1 - 10 of about 117,000 for "He's away at college".
    Results 1 - 10 of about 15,100 for "He's in college".


    Those are Google predictions.
    Hello,

    Thank you for your efforts, those are very compelling results, but being curious as I am :), I went ahead and used www.americancorpus.org to dig up some more on this and here are my findings:

    He's at college - 1 hit
    He's in college - 11 hits

    That seems to run counter to what Google says. Do you think it's some kind of regional difference?

    Respectfully
    Chua.
     
    Last edited:

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    It seems like this debate keeps ending not because a general conclusion is made, but because there is so much disagreement that everyone decides to give up. :D

    Those Google results really shock me (it almost seems like there's something wrong) because I would only say the one that got 15,000 hits..
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Please note the words highlighted in bold green.
    Instead of just calling me wrong and then walking away, why don't you provide examples of how exactly I am wrong? Tell you what: I'll start the ball rolling with support for my "assertion":

    http://www.questionsaboutcollege.com...university.htm

    Quote:
    Colleges and Universities Differ in Degree Offerings
    If a university is a collection of colleges, it makes sense that universities have larger student bodies. Class size tends to be larger at universities, and professors are often prized for their research accomplishments as well as their teaching efforts. Often, student to faculty ratios can be smaller at colleges. Universities confer degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, whereas colleges tend to deal exclusively with four-year bachelor's degrees.
    Those are not blanket statements, such as
    universities grant postgraduate degrees, colleges do not...
    which was and remains false. Is Colgate University larger in student body or class size than, say, Dartmouth College? Both grant undergraduate and graduate degrees. Sweet Briar College offers graduate degrees. So do Trinity College, Wheaton College, Aquinas College, Ashworth College, Assumption College, Canisius College, Clarke College, Fitchburg State College, Boston College, Connecticut College, Bard College, Hood College, and a great many more.


    ChuaTang said:
    Thank you for your efforts, those are very compelling results, but being curious as I am :), I went ahead and used www.americancorpus.org to dig up some more on this and here are my findings:

    He's at college - 1 hit
    He's in college - 11 hits
    Interesting. I got the same results from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (Brigham Young University)

    I then tried the same corpus for the following:

    She's in college - 10 hits
    She's at college - No results
    She's away at college - 1 hit

    They are away at college- 1
    They are at college - 0
    They are in college -4

    They were in college - 21
    They were at college - 0
    They were away at college -2

    I repeated the Google searches, and clicked through to get away from predictions, and see actual citations:

    Results 1 - 10 of about 15,100 for "He's in college".
    Actual citations: "Results 881 - 890 of about 15,100 for "He's in college"."Results 1 - 10 of about 158,000 for "He's at college".
    Actual results: "Results 491 - 491 of 491 for "He's at college"."

    Based on all of the above, I think it is fair to say that both prepositions are widely used in AE. AE speakers, whatever their prepositional preferences, are still very unlikley to say "He's at university."
     

    chasfh

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Please note the words highlighted in bold green.

    Those are not blanket statements, such as which was and remains false. Is Colgate University larger in student body or class size than, say, Dartmouth College? Both grant undergraduate and graduate degrees. Sweet Briar College offers graduate degrees. So do Trinity College, Wheaton College, Aquinas College, Ashworth College, Assumption College, Canisius College, Clarke College, Fitchburg State College, Boston College, Connecticut College, Bard College, Hood College, and a great many more.
    OK, fair enough. I think I probably get a half-point because many, if not most, colleges do not grant graduate degrees, enough so that it is considered a basic distinction between them and universities, all of which grant graduate degrees.

    Look, I don't mind being corrected. I like learning new things, too. Just do so without the snarky insults, OK? It's really not necessary.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    OK, fair enough. I think I probably get a half-point because many, if not most, colleges do not grant graduate degrees, enough so that it is considered a basic distinction between them and universities, all of which grant graduate degrees.
    Well, that doesn't quite hold true universally, either. DeVry University, admittedly a "commercial" university of sorts, does not grant graduate degrees. Neither does University of Phoenix, I believe. AIU (American Intercontinental University) only offers Master's Degrees, as far as I know, which is a graduate program but not leading to a full doctorate.

    I don't think the line is quite as clear as all that.

    As for the original question, I would say "he is at college" even if he's away at a university, but I'm sure this has been covered in other threads.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    DeVry only offers it under a completely different school, The Keller Graduate School (which has neither college nor university in its name, strangely). I do see that University of Phoenix offers masters and doctorate programs now. I don't think that was true last time I checked with them. I missed the AIU Ph.D. program. Can you provide a link? I was just on their website. I must have missed it.

    To me, a university may have multiple colleges within it, each with its own program, but then there's the Claremont Colleges, a group of colleges that have graduate programs. As I said, I don't think it's a clearly drawn line.
     
    Last edited:

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Thanks, Aidanriley. Other than DeVry University, then, I might be hard-pressed to find a university that doesn't offer graduate degrees. What about colleges like Bryn Mawr, though, where there is a long history of graduate degrees? I don't think we can say that the offering of graduate degrees distinguishes a university from a college.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top