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Education Blog

  • Wendy Williams

Public vs. Private Colleges

We usually know which colleges are private and which are public, but do we know why they are labeled as such? Do we know the difference between public and private? Perhaps not, but that’s what this post is for…

The first and most commonly known difference lies in the tuition cost due to funding. Public schools are funded by the government and private schools are not; therefore, the private schools rely solely on donations and students’ tuition to pay costs. This is why many associate private school with higher tuition costs. However, private schools are often known to have the largest scholarship bank. With that said, simply because it’s a private school does not necessarily mean that you will pay more than at a public school.

Another difference lies within size. Most of the time (but not always) public schools are much larger than private schools—not only in student population, but also in amount of programs offered. Public schools usually offer a wide array of degrees whereas private schools offer few.

Demographics differ between the two as well. Due to in-state incentives that public schools offer, a great deal of the students who attend public institutions are from in-state. Contrasting, private schools, lacking the in-state incentives, have more out-of-state students and therefore have a more diverse population.

So, which is the best choice: public or private? There is no clear-cut answer as it depends on the individual student’s needs and preferences…

  1. Do you prefer a large population?

  2. Is your major offered?

  3. Are finances a concern? If so, check in with a financial advisor: are there scholarships that you will be able to apply for?

  4. Would you prefer to attend a school with majority of students who grew up in the same state as the school, or students from all around?

… Considering these questions is a great starting point; however, it is most important to look at the individual schools (regardless of whether its public or private) to see what that particular school offers and if it lines up with your wishes, standards, and values. THAT is how you find your ideal college!

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