Towards a Glossary of Confusing Terms

dictionary and thesaurusEarlier in the week, we discussed how confusing the word “college” can be. It means different things in different countries, and in the U.S. it’s used as a near-synonym for “university.”

Jihye weighed in, saying:

I still can’t say the differences between college and university (usually college is for someone who couldn’t get enough score to go to uni in Korea).

And Jamal added:

In my country, Kyrgyzstan, students may think of college as a very prestigious institution, maybe even a private one. And moreover, we do not have community colleges as here, in the U.S.

It inspired us to think of other words that might be confusing.  We’re starting a glossary of confusing words to help you understand what you read about studying in the U.S.  Check it out, and submit more words that you have found confusing so we can build it up.

» Visit the Glossary

Here’s what we have so far:

Community College – A community college is a 2-year institution.  Students who attend a community college can then transfer to a four-year college or university to complete their bachelor’s degree.  Community colleges typically also offer associate degrees (career-focused degrees).

Community college and junior college refer to the same type of education.  Junior college typically refers to a private institution and community college to a public one.

Bachelor’s Degree – This is the degree awarded by an undergraduate college or university.  The most common type of bachelor’s degrees is a BA (Bachelor of Arts – sometimes abbreviated AB), which is the standard degree awarded by liberal arts colleges.  Some schools also offer a Bachelor of Science for students in science and engineering fields.

School – In the U.S. a “school” is any educational institution.  Places of elementary, secondary, higher and graduate education can be called schools (and are!).

School of Education – Some colleges and universities have a “school of education” within them.  This would be the department of the university that trains you to become a teacher or to have another career within the field of education.

When suggesting this term for our glossary, Nareg said:

“School of Education”. That’s funny. Aren’t all schools “schools of education”? In many parts of the world, the discipline of teaching is referred to as “pedagogy”, so one would instead come across a “pedagogical university”, or something like that.

Suggest a Word for the Glossary