How to Choose Public or Private College

Clearing up misconceptions about public and private colleges paves the way for personal pro and con list

Things to consider:
1) Cost

Though private institutions are supported primarily with endowments and tuition fees, they are also supported by (tax-payer supported) government funds.  Public schools are mostly supported by government funds and have smaller tuition, particularly for in-state students. All colleges and universities have plenty of financial aid to offer. So, don’t assume private schools are more expensive.

2) Size and Major

Considerations for class size and majors offered should also be on your decision list when choosing public and private colleges.  In general, public universities have larger general class sizes for the first required courses.  Do you prefer intimate learning experiences in a class of 20? Maybe you like a midsize class of 50 where you can still easily get all your questions answered? How about a huge lecture of 300+ where you are completely anonymous?  As you advance in your major, college class sizes diminish.  Public schools tend to offer more majors overall, so look through degree descriptions to compare offerings and learning opportunities. 

3) Learning Style

Are you a hands-on, tactile learner or do you prefer to sit and listen? Do you need or want labs? How do you want your research area to look and feel? Do you prefer career professionals teach courses?  All of these things are important to consider.  Always ask questions if you do not see the information you need on a particular college website. 

4) Social Activity and Campus Life

Want to see familiar faces on campus or prefer a variety?  Your social, athletic and other campus activities (volunteer, faith based, pre-professional, clubs, Greek life, etc.) are also considerations. The right combination of social, campus life, and activity enhances your learning and overall college experience. 

5) Think Outside the Box

In October, 2021 the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey reported college enrollment in the U.S. dropped by 2.9 million from 2019 to 2020. Small private colleges are extremely tuition-dependent and particularly affected by this decline. However, public colleges aren’t immune. 

Don’t be discouraged when choosing public and private colleges. Universities are thinking outside the box. The perfect learning environment for you might just be a newly created one. 

5) What Else?

Holistic Learning provides many useful resources to help high school students navigate the pros and cons of choosing Public vs. Private Colleges,” states Career & Counseling Chief Jess Spyad. “Winding up in the right place after high school is important. There’s nothing better to help you make your decision than a comprehensive, integrated support platform. Tutoring, learning strategies, meditation and wellness courses, college and career counseling, and career seminars are all critical elements of a well-rounded approach to your development as a person and a student. Luckily for you, Holistic Learning offers all of this and more in an affordable package!” 

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