|Stylistic Origins:||Punk rock, post-punk, New Wave|
|Cultural Origins:||Late 1970s and early 1980s; United States, United Kingdom and Australia|
|Instruments:||Guitar – bass – keyboard – drums|
|Popularity:||Limited success in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with some artists gaining moderate mainstream success.|
|Derivatives:||Indie rock – Grunge – Indie pop – Alternative dance|
|Other Topics:||Alternative bands – College radio – Alternative history – 120 Minutes – Billboard Modern Rock Tracks – College Music Journal|
College rock is a term that was used in the United States to describe 1980s alternative rock before the term "alternative" came into common usage. The term's use of the word "college" refers to campus radio stations located at institutions of higher education in Canada and the United States, where the term "college" is considered to be interchangeable with the term "university". These stations were the majority broadcasters of this music, as the stations' playlists were often created by students who preferred underground rock music. 
The bands of the genre combined the experimentation of post-punk and New Wave with a more melodic pop style and an underground sensibility. It is not necessarily a genre term, but there do exist some common aesthetics among college rock bands. Artists such as R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, The Smiths, XTC and The Replacements became some of the better-known examples in the mid 1980s.
By 1988, some college rock artists had begun to gain mainstream recognition with several having singles reach Top 40 portion of the Billboard Hot 100. Among these were The Church, whose single "Under the Milky Way" peaked at #26, Midnight Oil, who reached #17 with their single "Beds Are Burning" and Love and Rockets, whose single "So Alive" peaked at #3 in 1989. Also by 1988, R.E.M. had become popular on mainstream pop radio due to the success of their singles "The One I Love" and "Stand".
In September 1988, Billboard introduced the Modern Rock Tracks chart which monitored airplay on so-called "modern rock" radio stations. Several college rock artists were highly successful on the chart during its first few years in existence.