Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Private and Public Universities

Private School
Private School (Photo credit: mikecogh)
by Amanda Moses

Choosing the right college is not an easy decision, as many variables must be considered before a choice can be made.

You have to decide if you want to stay in-state or go out-of-state, if you want to attend a large or small university, and if you're going to want to pursue a college degree in the arts or the sciences.

There are many different determining factors when it comes to picking a school, and once you've narrowed it down by at least a few determiners, you then have to decide whether you want to attend a private or a public university. And that's where it gets tricky.

Both public and private universities have their merits as well as their disadvantages. Before you make a decision, you want to make sure that you've thoroughly researched each school on your list so that you choose the one that is best for you.

Private Schools

Private universities are often associated with prestige which is, in turn, associated with a higher quality education. It is true that private universities have smaller student bodies than public schools-as they are much harder to get into-and therefore, have smaller classes, which generally lead to more interaction between professors and students.

Over the course of four years, a great rapport can be built between professors and students, which is nice to have when you're trying to forge a professional life for yourself. The small student body also lends a feeling of unity between all students, which is great for building relationships with peers.

With a degree from a private university under your belt, getting a more prestigious job may be easier for you than if you were to earn a degree from a public university. This isn't necessarily because you learned more at the private university, but simply because the name can impress your potential employer.

Though private schools are more prestigious, and may land a graduate a job offer before a graduate of a public school, it is extremely costly and can put you in serious debt, even with financial aid. One year at a private school will cost you upwards of $35,000 - that is, if you even get accepted. The acceptance rate is much lower at private universities, and only a fraction of those who apply get in.

Public Schools

Public education may be cheaper than a private education - $30,000 a year cheaper - but that doesn't mean that it isn't just as good. In fact, even with their large student bodies and class sizes, public schools offer courses that are just as difficult - and oftentimes even more so - than private schools.

While the one-on-one professor/student interaction is limited in public schools, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist; rather, students have to work extremely hard to get noticed by their professors in public schools, as many classes consist of forty-plus students. When a teacher notices you, be proud of yourself, because that means that you've done or said something outstanding.

Public schools are also much easier to get into than private schools and, because of this, their student bodies are extremely diverse. The diversity lends to the students' educations, as they are interacting with people from all walks of life on a daily basis. Also, the higher admittance rates make it easier for students to attend schools in geographical regions of their choosing.

However, as stated above, attending a public school over a private school may make it harder for you to forge a niche for yourself with certain employers-hard work always pays off though, and where you go in life is all determined by how much effort you're willing to put forth.

Public and private schools each have their pros and cons. Determining which is best for you, however, all depends on what you want to gain from your formal education and where you're hoping to go with your life.

Where you go to school will only determine one part of the path you're going to take to your end goal - how much effort you put into your education and the choices you make thereafter will determine whether or not you make it.

Amanda Moses is Operations Manager at has a simple mission: to connect people with the information they need to make the best decision about which colleges and universities are the best fit for their educational needs. Since 1995, over 30 million potential students have used to find information about online universities and schools. Learn more about online degrees at

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