Translation:I took a shower, and then went to the university.
"Went to college" refers more to the act of getting an education. "Went to the college" refers to the physical building/campus, which makes a lot more sense in the given context.
Not that "took a shower, went off to get educated" is always wrong, but likely rarer and more niche.
If I understand correctly, it using the -te form to connect two sentences (take a shower, and then go to university). While doing that, the first sentence (take a shower) simply uses the -te form of the verb, while the second is used in whichever tense you want (here, past tense, "went to university"). This construction implies ALL the verbs in the same tense. Therefore, the fact that this last vetb is in the past, means all preceding verbs are also in past tense.
To say it plainly, you can link sentences with different verbs using the -te form, while conjugating only the last one, and automatically all the verbs share the same tense.
Hope I'm not wrong :)
I would guess that while the two sentences are likely largely interchangeable, there are nuances that prevent it from being equivalent:
Duo's translation says "I did 'A', then I did 'B'", while yours is more "After 'A', I did 'B'".
I don't know enough to say what the effect is, but as I said, likely interchangeable in conversation just not grammatically equivalent. Duo seems a little inconsistent with how close it accepts translations at times, so that might play in to it as well.
I think the idea is for you no not rely on the word tiles. I only mouse over words when I can't remember what they are. What's also fun is to sometimes play the audio and then look away, and try to translate without looking at the words at all.
You could also get the correct answer without reading the hiragana or listening to the audio by copying and pasting into Google Translate, but it would be silly to say this isn't helping you learn anything but using Google Translate.
Thanks. The problem I have with the word tiles is that they so limit what I can do for an answer that I don't have much of a chance to make a mistake, and if the DL way of teaching is for me to learn from my mistakes, it limits that. If the 'wrong' tiles were not just randomly picked by the system, but rather tested how much I had learned by offering 'almost right' or or right word but wrong conjugation etc. it would be a lot better learning experience. I do try to answer by just listening to the audio, but of course some of the question types have no audio and I sit at the computer looking silly waiting to hear 'the voice'
I took a shower beacause I (politely) needed to. Immediately. Without delay. I went to the university quite clean, in order to impress, as I'm not planning to take any other shower in the near future. Just for you to know how Duolingo's sentences can create a spark in your imagination.