In most western cultures, the best means to social mobility is through an investment in oneself. Sociologists called this “Human Capital Theory.” In a westernized culture, the best way to invest in oneself is via education.
The pinnacle of a western education happens at universities. Universities provide the highest levels of education. One can earn an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or a PhD at a university.
The difference between a college and a university varies from culture to culture. In the USA, the terms “college” and “university” are sometimes interchangeable. Technically speaking, universities contain colleges. For example: someone might graduate from XYZ University with a degree in XYZ through the college of Arts and Letters. This particular distinction is usually only made by the most persnickety in our culture.
There are administrative differences, organizational differences, and differences in the educational offerings between colleges and universities. Both colleges and universities are considered “institutions of higher learning,” but a college needs to apply for and be granted university status by an appropriate accrediting organization. Colleges will offer associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees. There are a handful of colleges that are in the transition between college and university that will offer master’s degrees. Universities offer associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and PhD’s. In general, universities are considered more prestigious than colleges.
The cost of a university education can be quite expensive. In the USA, there are federal programs that include grants and loans to help cover the cost of a higher education. There are also private scholarships available. When attending graduate school, it is possible to earn a fellowship that will offer either a reduced tuition or free tuition. Some school will offer work-study programs where the student will receive reduced tuition in exchange for working on campus.
University marketing includes many methods. They use sports teams televised as a way of drawing attention to their centers of higher learning. School curriculum and course books are sent out to potential students. Direct mail is very popular. During basketball and football games, television advertising promotes many different universities and the conferences with which they are associated. Every university has a website where school degrees and programs, professors and student activities are highlighted. Many of them have blogs and promote the student newspaper as well.