Public Vs Private Colleges

4 minute read

While deciding on the university to pursue your higher education, the one thing that confuses most students is whether to go for a public or a private university. This primary question has troubled both, former and current students and it will continue to stress out prospective applicants as well. Students looking to secure admission in their choice of college often feel the need to find out the status of their shortlisted school.

Public colleges are set up and funded by state governments for higher education. There are many popular public colleges like the University of California, Ohio State University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Texas. While private colleges are set up and funded by individuals which are outside of the government. Private colleges may be either “non-profit” or “for-profit”. So how to decide which college to opt for?

Deciding Factor

1. Tuition Cost

Public colleges are funded by state government. Their operating costs are being handled by government. This works as an advantage for the students as they do not pay the real cost of attendance – instead, they pay the cost after significant subsidies which are offered by the government. For this reason, public universities can afford to offer lower tuition prices on average. Average tuition at public colleges for the 2017-18 school year is $11,000 – $30,000.

Private colleges, on the other hand, are funded by the Tution fees, alumni, grants and communities. This forces students to bear the full cost of their education, contributing to higher tuition prices. Average tuition at private colleges for the 2017- 2018 school year was $20,000-$50,000. Private colleges often come up with an excellent package of financial aid for students in need. This won’t be apparent up front, however.

2. Demographics and Batch Size

In public colleges there is less direct access to the professors due to high class sizes at the introductory level. Also they offer lesser tuition fees for in state tuitions which attract more students from same state resulting in less geographical diversity in the class group.

In private colleges, class size is much smaller which results in closer association with lecturers, Professors and class mates. This results in bigger engagement opportunities. Also, as there is no difference between Tution fee for in state and out of state applicants, students come across a much diverse group of acquaintances.

3. Program offerings

Public universities have larger student body and offer a large variety of programs. The largest universities are public universities in USA. At public college students can find almost all type of major programs they wish to pursue.

Private colleges have comparatively smaller student bodies and don’t offer large range of courses for majors. Private colleges offer specific curriculum requirements, offer excellent advisory systems and allow students to design their own courses of study.

4. Research Opportunities

Public universities have no shortage of funds due to abundance of government funding. They often have cutting edge research facilities and virtually endless resources. But even with all of these, the competition among students is immense due to the large number of student intake; which makes it difficult to stand out from the crowd and get the support of professors for your research efforts. But if you’re willing to put yourself out there, public universities have some of the best opportunities in the country for intense academic research, especially in the hard sciences.

Private colleges may have to compete hard for funding and resources overall, but they offer easy access to professors and individual encouragement of student research efforts. The research facilities available are world class and are often funded by corporate. Many private colleges have specialized research programs and opportunities for students. With small class sizes, you’ll find it easy to get close to your professors and potentially work with them on different projects of your choice.

5. Campus

Public colleges usually have vibrant communities with a wide variety of extracurricular opportunities and a thriving party scene. There’s something for everyone within the social scene, and you’ll find many people who share your interests no matter how obscure they are. At public colleges, there’s always something going on.

Private colleges may still have very diverse communities and lots of extracurricular opportunities, but everything typically exists on a smaller scale. On the contrary, private colleges offer their students to study and learn in teams of people from totally different cultural backgrounds, which enhance individual qualities like team spirit, adaptability, leadership abilities etc. 

 Private colleges even being more expensive, have huge benefits. Public universities might lack the charm and community feel that private universities may offer, but to compensate the same, they often have more degree programs and more on-campus opportunities. Choosing the right college surely can be tough, but there isn’t much to stress out for. No matter what type of college you are thinking of choosing – public or private, it is very important to do your homework. You must keep your options open and don’t discount a college until you find out the facts for yourself: get in touch with the students, take a virtual tour or visit in person if possible, and think about what you want out of your college experience!

Chinu Vasudeva,


[email protected]

Making Higher Education Intelligent & Awesome!

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