College Questions

So, I am planning on writing a Story that takes place in College.
Since I do not live in america, I have no clue how the system works, so here are some questions:

Is it common to live in dorms?

How often are there exams and how long do you generally study?

What is the difference between college and university?

How often do you go to lessons? (I do not know how those are called in america, I think it was lecture, but I am not sure)

How long does one lesson go?

How big is a campus?

Are there really those big parties like on TV?

Is there anything else I should know?

Thank you so much in advance!

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I really appreciate people not from the US asking what college is like in the US, because it seems to be very different than it is in other areas of the world.

I have attended a major university and now work for another.
The first, living in the dorm was not required but heavily encouraged to the point where freshman that owned vehicles were required to park their vehicles at the football stadium on the opposite side of campus. My roommate lived in the city the university was located but lived in the dorm due to several of these factors.
The university I work for, a freshman living in the dorm is mandatory unless they obtain a waiver due to medical reasons. This is to encourage the full college experience.
So, for the first year (freshman year) it is almost certain students will live in the dorm. After that, usually, students get off-campus housing.

This really depends on the class. While some classes have reoccurring exams, most classes will always have a midterm and final exam. A typical college term is 16 weeks long, so midterms are at 8 weeks and finals, the final week. How long you study, depends on the student.
American universities are organized into Credit Hours. Your typical class is 3 credit hours, which usually means you spend 3 hours in the classroom each week. Beyond that, the university expects you to study equivalent 2-3 hours per week/per credit hour. This means that 12 credit hours taken is considered to be a full-time student as you should be spending 36 hours on college work each week.

So, a University is considered an institution with 4-year+ degrees with access to master’s and doctorate programs while a college usually has more 2+ year technical degrees. That being said, I am currently obtaining a 4-year degree from a college, but it is a technical degree and there are no higher learning (masters/doctorate) opportunities.
That being said, we don’t use the term “going to university, or going to uni” When used in this context, we say “going to college”. It is like saying you’re going to school versus you’re going to private school. University signifies the type and is more of a proper noun.

Lecture and labs. As stated above, a TYPICAL class is 3 credit hours, meaning you go to class for three hours a week. This is typically split up over the week. With major universities, you either go for one hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or 1.5 hours on Tuesday and Thursday. I have had Monday and Wednesday classes that were 1.5 hours, and Monday only classes that were 3 hours. When a class usually has a lab associated with it (more individual study beyond a lecture) it is usually a 4 credit class and your lab is one hour sometimes during the week.

Stated above, it depends on the university/class. Typically Monday/Wednesday/Friday for one hour or Tuesday/Thursday for 1.5 hours.

This really depends on the university. The university I work for, has 25,000 students. Campus is very large .

I have also attended a small college where there are only 3-4 buildings.

I attended MORE parties the first week of my freshman year of college than I did all of high school and any years after. So, yes.

Major universities (like the one I first attended, and the one I work for) are so large that you CAN’T know everyone. You get to know people in your dorm and classes. There are usually fraternities and sororities (I was in a sorority) which is basically people buying friends with similar interests. Of course, everyone knows the popular athletes, by face. They can tend to be celebrities on campus. Beyond that, you know your inner circle, and that’s it.

Edit to include:
I wanted to add, that our universities include General Education Requirements. These are set classes that everyone has to take no matter what your degree is. You usually spend your first 1.5 to 2 years taking these general education requirements. You don’t typically start taking classes associated with your major until your second or third year.
General Education classes include 2 semesters of English Composition, 2 semesters of Maths, social sciences including sociology and psychology, science classes such as chemistry, foreign language and history.


Every college is different.

Yes. It’s common to live in dorms.

Not much.
Here we call a college a community college. It’s only 2 years and you don’t live on campus. You commute everyday.
Whereas a university is a campus. 4 years and you live in the dorms.
For the record we call both of these colleges.

Depending on your schedule. Some goes to class everyday or some people have shorter schedules. Like 4 days out of the week.

Again, depends on your schedule.
I once had a class that lasted 2 hours.

I don’t know the exact size. But it’s very big.
I use to get lost all the time lol.

Yes. Depending on the college and the location of it.


Thank you so much for this detailed answer! I really did not want to got the route a lot of authors go and just believe everything TV shows me, especially if it is about such a complex theme.

Thank you again and have a great day!


Thank you so much!

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Moving this to General Chat since the theme is college-related and not really about Episode. Make sure to check out our Forum Tutorial for more info about where to correctly create topics, and feel to PM me if there are any questions. :wink:

Just thought I’d add a few tidbits more.

Some programs of study involve off-campus activities. For example, nursing students may spend a day or two each week at a hospital or nursing home.

There are also evening classes geared toward people who are past college age and already in the workforce. I sometimes took an evening class along with my traditional daytime classes.

Some non-traditional ( aren’t starting college right after high school) students are able to take a full daytime schedule. In my classes, it was common to have a few older students among us.

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