As with financial aid, the decision between a public and a private university depends on personal need and preference.
State-supported universities can be great for students who flourish in a communal, lecture-based environment. At an institution like the University of Maryland, you will spend your first year or two in a stadium-type lecture hall with 300-400 other students. Your opportunities for interacting with your Professor will be limited, but you’ll be able to form a close bond with your Teaching Assistant (TA). With 8,000 new students and a total student body of 40,000, this is often the most effective method of running classes.
Still, large class sizes do not mean that the institution’s academic standards aren’t high. It is important to remember that state schools are not a “fall back” option for students. In fact, Public schools can be just as rigorous as Private schools. Although an Ivy League university’s reputation may precede itself, you do not need to attend one to get a demanding, rich and meaningful education.
If you feel that you would not benefit from lecture-based classes, you might want to consider a private, four-year college. In either case, it is important to note that some private colleges still employ large, lecture-style classrooms. Stanford, widely regarded as an excellent school, has programming classes of 650 students!
Sometimes the benefit of a private school is not the size of the class, but the person doing the lecturing. There are a limited number of world-class experts in their fields and they generally flock to more prestigious schools. However, this is not always the case: the State University of New York has one of the most serious and impressive Nanotechnology facilities in the entire nation!
Students can find success at both Private and Public Colleges, it just depends on the student. A dedication to studying and forming beneficial social and study groups is the key to success at college. The type of college doesn’t matter as much as what a student does there. The Private vs. Public choice is important more so in terms of students finding their place and having their needs met.
What it all boils down to is this: do your research! Talk to teachers, counselors and alums of your prospective schools to decide if they’re right for you. Remember: you can always transfer to another school, but you shouldn’t make any hasty decisions either. Think long and hard on this one––it’s your future, after all.
If you find yourself needing even more information, allow this article to help you out!