Comparing Types of Colleges: The Pros and Cons of Public Colleges

December 20th, 2011 by rebeccac

advantages-of-public-colleges-ts87815035In the last of our series on comparing colleges, we take a look at the type of institution that makes up the majority of higher education: the public university system. Public schools, or state-funded schools, are institutions that get a large chunk of their financing from state and federal governments, which means that no one can be denied admission because of race, religion, gender or any other kind of discriminatory criteria.

Prospective students of public universities are also encouraged to stay within their state boundaries as they incur much higher tuition by enrolling in a school that’s outside of their home state.

Advantages of Public Colleges
Obviously, the first thing that everyone is going to mention is the cost. In-state public university tuition is, on the whole, considerably cheaper than the majority of private colleges, which can make financial juggling much easier in the long-term and require a smaller student loans in order to balance responsibilities.

On top of that, the sheer size of a public college or university is going to provide a myriad of benefits. The oftentimes expansive campuses offer great access to a variety of facilities, both for educational and social pursuits, and the sheer number of students means that you encounter a lot of diversity and can get involved in a great many activities. This also means that there is big selection when it comes to majors, postgraduate degrees and course offerings. Additionally, public colleges generally have strong backgrounds in cutting-edge research and a large number of faculty members who are active in their fields and who serve as excellent resources.

Disadvantages of Public Colleges
In the same ways that the large campuses and student populations of public universities are a benefit, they also lead to a lot of disadvantages as well. With as many students as are around, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd and feel like you’re only known by your student ID number, especially when you’re sitting in one of the huge lecture halls of a lower-level course. Also, offering as much course variety as they often do is a strain even on expansive faculties, and many times the prerequisite classes are taught not by full professors but by graduate students. Sometimes the grad students do okay; sometimes they don’t.

If you’re someone who wants to develop a strong relationship with your professors and get one-on-one mentoring, that will be more of a struggle at public colleges, where the number of students bumps up the competition and many professors will not have enough office hours in the day to really work with you on subject matter.

As a wrap-up to our series as a whole, we leave you with this note: Only you can make the choice about which college is the best fit for you. We’ve provided the common pros and cons of each in an attempt to give you an overview and assist with your decision-making, but when it comes right down to it, you know your life, your skills and what you need better than anyone else.

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