Private and public university may seem the same on the surface. Both are places of higher learning for those seeking a degree beyond a high school diploma. So why do most students report very different day-to-day experiences depending on whether they attend a private versus a public college? Letâ€™s examine three typical differences in these colleges: prices, atmosphere, and living environments.
The largest advantage that public colleges have over private colleges is the price. In-state tuition at a public college is usually quite a savings when compared to private colleges in any state. (Students at private colleges are charged the same tuition regardless of which state he or she resides in.) However, there are exceptions. For example, Cottey College, a two-year private college for women in Nevada, Missouri has tuition rates comparable to many four-year public universities. Also, it may be possible to get a better financial aid package from a private college than a public one. When applying for college it is best to choose both public and private institutions and narrow it down after looking at the combined cost of attendance and the financial aid package offered.
This is the area that affects students most drastically. Students at private colleges usually get one-on-one attention with professors. Their teachers know them by their first names, and they know their fellow students by their first names. Public colleges tend to be much larger and therefore students are more anonymous to professors and other students. If a student works better in small groups he or she might want to consider a private college. The student who thrives on new experiences and is exhilarated by being with many people may want to investigate the public university.
What about the college atmosphere outside of the classroom? Often a public university has a sports team or several sports teams. This offers students camaraderie whether as a spectator or a participant. Students also enjoy the school spirit that athletic competitions engender.
Private schools may also have sports teams, but they are rarely an integral part of a studentâ€™s life here. They usually do not compete in the large public forums such as a school like the University of Connecticut does in menâ€™s and womenâ€™s basketball. Some students find that this makes life boring.
It may more difficult to find housing is you are at a large public university, but often times the public universities often more chooses for housing such as apartment style living and off-campus options. Some private colleges do not give freshmen as many choices in housing. They may not be allowed to have a car on campus or choose their dorm. This is done in an attempt to alleviate stress and keep the student from becoming overwhelmed with too many choices too quickly. This is a general statement; not every private college restricts freshmen in such ways. One would have to examine the schools one by one.
In contrast, most public universities have sororities and fraternities. Those who join can live in the house that belongs to the sorority or fraternity of oneâ€™s choosing. Students may make life-long friendships with those they meet in respective sororities and fraternities. Again, not everyone is comfortable with sorority and fraternity life. Private colleges do not usually have such organizations. Perspective students should consider how they feel about these practical elements before applying to college.
Besides prices, atmosphere, and living environments there is another important element of these universities Both teach students about the real world, but what they learn is considerably different.
Many would argue that who you know in life is the single most important aspect of success. The private college helps students learn how to â€œnetwork.â€ Of course, students have no idea this is what they are doing or learning. I do not intend to state that private colleges do this intentionally. Rather, it is a by-product of the small environment. It is networking in its purest formâ€”and at its best. Students learn that if they develop personal ties with colleagues they have an edge. They learn that hard work is rewarded because others see the effort put forth. At the private college it is not so much the quantity of work that is important, but rather the quality.
On the other hand, a public university teaches the student that the world is not always fair. This is a valuable lesson as well. Students here may feel like a â€œcog in the wheel.â€ Because these institutions are usually rather large, communication between departments is not always exemplary and policy builds on policy to create bureaucracy. Therefore, students may at times feel frustrated and helpless. Learning to keep oneâ€™s composure, persist, and succeed when faced with obstacles are valuable lessons.
Being a product of a public and private university I have to say that I am glad to have attended both environments. Both prepared me with unique lessons before I actually encountered them out in the working world. Private and public university do not offer the same experiences, but any student who wants to succeed will find valuable lessons at either place.