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If you’re a high school junior or senior and are looking at colleges, likely you’ve looked at both private and public colleges. On the surface, it may be hard to tell what the differences are between the two, and what would be more beneficial for your personality and learning style as a student and your particular degree program. If you’ve interviewed people, you’ve likely heard stories from graduates of private schools touting the advantages of their school and all of the great experiences they had during their time there. Unfortunately, you’ll often hear the same sentiments from those who went to a state school. So, what are the fundamental differences between private and public schools? “test”

School size and class size

Private schools tend to be smaller schools in general, and thus have smaller classes. One of the features that a private school will advertise is the easier access to your professors and a smaller class environment. State schools on, on the other hand, can have upwards of 200 students in a single class.  This can make scheduling time with your professor much more difficult.

The size of the school can limit degree programs offered by a private school

While a smaller school might be desirable, a smaller school might also mean fewer degree choices. This doesn’t matter so much if you have already chosen your degree and the private school you are considering offers that degree. However if you decided at some point within your college career to change your degree, you may have limited options to choose from.


The main difference between a private and public school is how they are funded. State schools in addition to being funded by tuition payments are partially government funded and typically offer reduced tuition to in-state students. Private schools are not government funded and rely on other means of funding, such as endowments and donations. This means that tuition can be higher for a private school than a public one. On the other hand, private schools often have more financial aid access and may be able to award more scholarships, which could offset some of the tuition difference between private and public schools.

In the end, deciding on your perfect school will likely not come down to whether it is public or private.  Some will be tempted to shut out all possibility of private school because they feel it will be too expensive. Others may decide to avoid state schools because they want the small environment of a private college. In reality, you would be best served in keeping all of your options open. There are many more attributes to a college than whether it is public or private. Spend some time researching the schools you are interested in. Find the ones that offer the types of degree programs you need. Visit your top schools. Discover their environment, their culture, the overall feel of the school. Discuss finances with all of your top schools – not just tuition costs but financial aid as well. In the end, instead of deciding private or public, choose the school that best fits your needs.