Difference Between Public and Private Colleges

By: | Updated: Dec-8, 2021
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When choosing the right college for you, it is crucial to consider a whole thread of factors, including class size, enrollment rate, cost, location, intensiveness of academic program, etc. Yet, one of the biggest questions to answer is whether to go to a public or a private school.

What are public and private colleges? How do they differ? And, most importantly, which one is best for you? This guide will take you through the key points to help you make the right choice.

Public vs. Private Colleges: Definitions

Difference Between Public and Private Colleges

Why is it vital to make the right choice? Well, imagine you choose the wrong major that turns out to be too tough. In this case, you can always hire a tutor on domyessay.com to boost your academic performance and survive your college years. However, if you pick the wrong college, switching it later will be a hell of a pain, which is why there is no place for a mistake.

But, how to choose? First of all, you need to see the difference. So, let’s start with definitions.

In a nutshell, a public university or college is a national educational institution that is most often funded by a government. A private college, on the contrary, is a non-governmental educational facility that typically relies on tuition fees paid by students, endowments, and other forms of outside funding.

One more thing worth noting concerning private schools is that they can be divided into two categories – nonprofit and for-profit. The first category includes facilities founded to provide high-quality education, whereas the second category includes schools that were mainly founded to generate profit.

Public vs. Private Colleges: Key 5 Distinctive Features

Apart from relying on different funding sources, public and private colleges have a few other distinctive features that you should know about before making a choice.

Here are the key differences that are there.

1. Admission Criteria

If you are wondering whether it is easier to get into a public or a private school, you need to know that the admission criteria vary depending mostly on the reputation of a chosen facility. That is, if you apply to some of the “flagship” schools, getting in will be hard regardless of whether they are private or public.

Nevertheless, if we are talking about regular public schools, getting into them is generally easier when you are an in-state student. Unfortunately, private colleges don’t offer such privileges.

2. Difficulty of Studies

The quality and difficulty of studies also vary from one school to another. There are both public and private colleges that push a lot on their students. At the same time, there are both public and private schools that will take it somewhat easier on you. However, don’t make the difficulty of study a primary criterion for your choice.

3. Available Programs

Typically, it is believed that public colleges are much more all-encompassing. Such schools can boast wider program offerings compared to most private colleges that tend to offer fewer programs and often are rather narrow-focused.

Is it a bad thing? Not necessarily. The main reason public colleges tend to have more program offerings is that they have a larger student body. This can be a huge advantage for students who haven’t yet decided on who they want to be in the future as this way they will have more options to choose from. However, for those students who already know what they want to major in, going to a private college that focuses on their field of interest can be a good option.

4. Research Opportunities

One more difference you should know about is the availability of research opportunities. As a rule, public schools can offer broader opportunities thanks to the more stable funding they receive from the government. In contrast, private colleges often have limited research facilities and resources.

However, there are some exceptions. If we speak about private research universities, such as Cornell University or Johns Hopkins University, these schools make a larger emphasis on research and, thus, offer better opportunities. But, when it comes to smaller private universities, their resources can’t really compare to the ones available at public schools.

5. Cost of Tuition

Probably the weightiest distinctive feature between public and private colleges is the cost of tuition. Public schools that receive funding mainly from the government typically can afford to have lower costs of attendance. Private schools, on the contrary, often lack funding and, thus, are more expensive.

To help you see the difference, let’s look at some numbers. This year, the average tuition in a public college is $27,020 for out-of-state students and $10,560 for students who come from the state. In contrast, the average cost of attending a private school has reached $37,650, which is significantly higher. In fact, the cost is among the biggest reasons why most students are looking more towards public schools.

The Bottom Line

So, which option is best? There is no answer that would fit all. The choice of the right school should be based on a complex approach, thorough research, and assessment of a combination of factors.

Some additional things you want to consider are class size, learning environment, campus life and diversity, extracurriculars, etc. Only based on all these criteria will you be able to make the right choice.

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