What to Expect as a University Student

Many people intent on pursuing college degrees wonder what degree programs are available at universities, and what lies ahead for them in the university experience. This brief article addresses these aspects:

  • Features of typical universities
  • Some details about university degree programs and academics
  • Highlights of university student life

Universities are post-secondary educational institutions that are distinguished mainly by the breadth of their degree-program offerings and their size. Some universities, especially public universities that are heavily funded with state taxes, are very large, with tens of thousands of students. UniversityThese large universities may have a main campus and a few smaller satellite campuses around the state. Other universities only have a couple of thousand students (similar in size to satellite campuses of big universities). These smaller universities tend to be private (i.e., not funded with state taxes), although some private universities are large. In recent years, universities have expanded even more by adding online studies, a move that has greatly increased student enrollment at some institutions.

Universities offer undergraduate degrees that typically require a four- to five-year study programs. Most of them also offer graduate degree programs at the master’s level while those with research capabilities offer doctoral degree programs. Universities feature a wide variety of disciplines, including liberal arts (e.g., arts, humanities, sciences, and mathematics) and applied disciplines such as business, engineering, education, and nursing. The majority of university professors hold doctoral degrees, and students can expect them to impose fairly rigorous demands with respect to writing, math skills, oral communication, critical thinking, and overall scholarship. Students typically attend university full-time, taking four to six courses every semester. Some students blend jobs and studies in formal work/study programs, cooperative education programs, and internships. University-sanctioned internships are often co-curricular in that they offer credit toward degree completion as well as practical work experience.

University student life typically includes more than just going to class and studying. Student organizations and university-sponsored activities offer students social, academic, professional, spiritual, and recreational enjoyment. Most universities have competitive sports teams that also add excitement to campus life. Whether university students live on campus in dormitories or similar facilities, or live off-campus and commute to school each day, they find that student life offers a wide variety of benefits to round out their university experience.