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I just watched a news story that used the phrase "How to succeed at university".

I was under the impression that at in this specific phrase has to be follow a verb.

Is "How to succeed at university" grammatically correct? If it is, then what is the difference between at/*in* in this case? If there is none, which one is more desirable?

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Edited. Thanks. –  RecursiveCall Aug 19 '13 at 18:15

1 Answer 1

I think in this case, the word "University" is likely being used in the British sense.

How to Succeed at University

... is essentially equivalent to the North American phrase..

How to Succeed in College

or..

How to Succeed at College

For example, here's a similar usage from an article in The Guardian (London newspaper).

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That article doesn't mention either phrase. –  RecursiveCall Aug 19 '13 at 17:19
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@RecursiveCall Jay said "similar usage" and the article is entitled "Three years dossing at university?" –  TrevorD Aug 19 '13 at 17:50
    
I didn't know that the phrase "at university" would be thought strange in AmE. In my view, the phrase "in university" would be thought strange in BrE. You refer to "the British sense" of university implying that it is is different from the US sense. In that case, for the benefit of us Brits, could you please explain the US sense of university? –  TrevorD Aug 19 '13 at 17:58
    
Canada/US (North American English tag is probably meaningless though). For the sake of this topic, let's deemphasize the whole "university vs college" thing and just stick with "university". @TrevorD I'm actually surprised to hear that in university sounds strange in British English. With that said, I'm guessing that both might be appropriate considering Canadian English is sometimes a midpoint of British and American version of English. –  RecursiveCall Aug 19 '13 at 18:03
    
@TrevorD - The overwhelmingly typical American usage of the word "university" is as a part a proper noun. "I am going to Harvard University" or "I went to the University of Georgia". University is much less often used as a generic term for post-secondary education in general. In AmE you would rarely hear the phrase, "Where did you go to university?" Whereas the alternative, "Where did you go to college?" or "Where did you go to school?" is much more likely. –  Jay Stevens Aug 20 '13 at 13:04

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