In everyday life, most people use the two terms interchangeably. Most of the times, if I say college, I may also mean university and the other way around. The phrase “go to college” simply means go to a place of higher education in the U.S. Colleges and universities can be private or public. Both can be easy or hard to get in. Highly ranked colleges are often harder to get in than universities.
However, there IS a difference between the two. Colleges tend to be smaller, with smaller class size and usually with more personal attention from faculty. Universities offer graduate degrees (master’s and doctoral), and the attention of faculty (professors) is divided between teaching and research. A university can have different colleges within: college of liberal arts, college of engineering, etc.
To make things more confusing, please remember that names can be misleading and you have to dig deeper (or at least check the website for basics) to find out more about the place. For example Dennison University, Ohio Wesleyan University are liberal arts colleges. Dartmouth College, College of William and Mary, and Boston College are great research universities.
There are also specialty schools which offer undergraduate (Bachelor’s degree) and graduate (Master’s and Ph.D.) in fine and performing arts, business, engineering. For example, Menio College for business or Babson College for business, or Olin College of Engineering and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana for engineering, Parsons School in New York for design and fashion, or Julliard or San Francisco Conservatory for music. (Cleveland Institute of Art and Rhode Island School of Design). You may want to consider all-women colleges, or all Catholic or Christian colleges.