Benefits of attending a public university
Easily the most visible difference between
American public and private universities is the cost of tuition, which
is much higher at a private university. In general, private tuition is
approximately 9-10 times higher than it is at a public tuition. This is
because private universities rely directly on student and alumni funding
in order to operate. Unlike a public state university, the private school
receives no direct subsidy from the state that the school is located in.
Public universities are also much easier for
a student to gain admission to, especially if the student is a resident
of the state in which the university is located in. In some instances,
public universities have programs that automatically accept transfer students
that have completed a certain level of outside credits in a different state
Drawbacks of attending a public university
Tuition is much cheaper than that of a private
university. For a year of classes, public tuition is approximately $3,500
for a full load of classes. Semester and quarter systems do not differ
in the total price of tuition.
Students who do not get achieve high enough
grades to gain admittance into a private university (which can be extremely
exclusive) will have a much easier time attending a public university.
But while a public university may be easier to get into, the curriculum
may be just as difficult—or more difficult—than a private university's.
Public universities are much larger and more
diverse than the average private university, and students may feel more
comfortable around a larger student population that it offers.
Students have more of a choice as to which
area of the country to attend school at when they select a public university.
Since the chances of being accepted at such a public school are greater,
the student can select a university in any climate, geographical region,
or city they desire.
Benefits of attending a private university
Public universities are not as prestigious
as private universities, and some careers might be more difficult to enter
The larger size of public universities may
distance the student from the educational atmosphere, making them feel
more anonymous among the student population.
Drawbacks of attending a private university
Like privatized junior high and high schools,
private universities generally have smaller class sizes, and more prestige
than does a public university.
Students generally build stronger, more personal
relationships with their professors and instructors, as there are special
programs designed to increase communication and dialogue between the two.
It is not uncommon for a university to arrange for professors to dine,
correspond, and interact with students on a personal, friendly level.
Private universities also have a significantly
higher amount of extra-curricular activities and programs for students
to participate in, which can develop a stronger sense of community.
Private universities, although more prestigious
and well-respected, are not automatically superior to public universities.
Harvard or Stanford may not be the ideal choice for every student, even
if their grades qualify them for admittance. The University of Washington,
a university located in Seattle, Washington has one of the country's most
prestigious medical schools, despite the fact that it is a public, and
not a private, university.
Perhaps the greatest drawback of attending
a private university is the difficulty in being accepted for admission.
Harvard University—one of the country's most prestigious schools—only admits
1,650 students a year, only a very small portion of all those who apply.
The admission process is therefore intensely competitive.
Price can be prohibitive for lower-income
students, although many universities offer financial aid packages to those
students who excel academically in spite of their financial backgrounds.
Overall, the most important factor of a
successful education is how well-suited the school is to the individual
student's needs and career interests. Students should consider rate their
ideal university's unique programs and course offerings before deciding
on which school to attend.