Private vs. public university: does it really make a difference?


Thinking about going to college but not sure whether to go public or private? It’s important to know what you want out of higher education before applying to anything because it could impact you far into the future. Although both types of establishments have similarities in what they teach you, going somewhere private will always offer a different experience to somewhere public. These are the main things you need to consider.

Lots or little to choose from

There’s generally a difference in size between private and public universities. While the latter tend to be quite big with tens of thousands of students, the former only ever have a few thousand at a time. If you’re not someone who likes being lost in the crowd, a public university could be too big for you. However, the benefit of going somewhere that caters to so many people is the level of choice on offer.

Colleges of this size generally have a greater variety of majors available for you to choose from. If you’re interested in something that isn’t particularly common, you’re more likely to find it offered at a public university rather than a private one. If you’re not too sure what you want to major in before you go to college, you might be safer going somewhere public so that your options aren’t limited.

Differing access to faculty

While a bigger range of majors is a definite plus for public universities, the difference in size isn’t entirely to the detriment of private establishments. These colleges tend to be more specialized, focusing on one academic discipline like engineering or the fine arts, rather than having a broader appeal. That means that if you’ve got your sights set on something specific, your needs might be better catered to at a private university.

Moreover, the smaller size of these colleges means that classes here tend to have fewer students. This gives you easier access to your professors because there are less students for them to worry to. That can be hugely beneficial down the line if you’re struggling with your studies and need extra assistance.

Depends on the size of your wallet

The main difference between public and private universities is the cost. Tuition at a public establishment is usually lower because the government pays for a large portion of its expenses. While students still have to pay their way through college, they dish out significantly less than if they were studying somewhere private.

Naturally, this plays a big factor in who can actually afford to go private, whether or not it’s what they want to do. This also influences the type of people you’re surrounded by when you decide not to go public, as most students are from a privileged background.

There are upsides and downsides to studying publicly or privately. Although access for the latter is harder, it’s not impossible for those with money worries. However, you have to decide whether a private university is somewhere you definitely want to study. The education you receive will likely be more in-depth, but that might mean sacrificing nights out more often than not. What do you most want to get out of your college experience?