Cancel Forgot Password?

Is a Public University Right for Me?

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A public university has much to offer

Most public universities are large institutions that provide students with many choices in terms of degree programs and student activities. With few exceptions, public universities have large enrollments. Ohio State University, an example of a large public university, has 63,000 students, including 41,000 undergraduates and 11,000 graduate students, and 3,700 faculty members. Public colleges, however, can be considerably smaller.

With size, comes choice. Students at public universities also have access to a variety of academic programs. Large universities typically have a school of engineering, school of arts and sciences, medical school, law school, and dozens of others. So, if you attend a public university, you can choose to major in anything from early education to bioengineering.

Public universities also offer numerous support resources, provide a wide range of student organizations and groups, and host athletic competition on various levels. Whatever your interests, you can probably find a club or group to enhance your college experience at a public university.

Low tuition rates at public college

Tuition rates are one of the biggest advantages of public universities and colleges. State governments fund the public universities and colleges, and pay the majority of costs, so tuition is lower than at private institutions. Students applying to public universities within their own states get the best deals. They make up the majority of admissions and pay less in tuition than out-of-state students.

Public college class sizes and housing

A possible downside to public college is that you may have to adjust to large classes, where you receive little personal attention. Some classes have up to 200 students, although not all classes are jumbo-size. 

On-campus living can include a range of options. There are likely traditional dorms with small rooms shared by two people and bathrooms down the hall. Most are older rooms, but newer dorms may offer more space in apartment-style living. Some big public colleges, however, have fewer dorm rooms than the students who want one. As a result, they cannot require students to live on campus, not even freshmen.

Choosing to attend a public university

Attending a public college or university can feel like living in a big city because there are lots of activities, buildings, cars, and new faces around every corner. If you prefer a populated environment with plenty of opportunities, a public university might be the right choice.

You'll need to be self-motivated in a number of ways — to find the academic program, the activities, and the living environment that's right for you. But once you do, you'll be more than a face in the crowd. You can make your own circle of friends through common interests, classes, and roommates. And once you find your own academic niche, you'll have many opportunities open to you.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

More articles by this author
Find a college that's right for you!
1Choose a state

2Choose a major
3Choose a degree type


Colleges you might like...

Manhattan College
Riverdale, NY
  • Type Private
  • Setting Urban
  • Size 3,392 students
  • In-State $34,300
  • Out-of-State $34,300
  • Acceptance Moderately Difficult
View Full School Profile
  • Type Public
  • Setting Urban
  • Size 9,848 students
  • In-State $4,425
  • Out-of-State $16,370
  • Acceptance Moderately Difficult
View Full School Profile
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY
  • Type Private
  • Setting Urban
  • Size 15,097 students
  • In-State $38,970
  • Out-of-State $38,970
  • Acceptance Very Difficult
View Full School Profile

Advanced Search Options

Search your needs below, and view information about the schools that meet those needs by clicking "Search."
Step 1: Select Subject Area(s)
Step 2: Select Major(s) that Interest You
Complete step 1 before selcting a major
Step 3: Select Degree Level
Search

Forgot Your Password?

To reset your password, simply enter your email address in the field below and click the Reset Password button. You will receive an email with a link and instructions to reset your password.

Check your email.

Please check your email and click on the link provided in the message to reset your password.