There are so many factors to consider when selecting the right university for you to achieve your degree at. Once you've selected your program and researched universities that offer it, you'll likely run into narrowing down your options by school type. Here are our top five reasons to apply to a private school for your education.
There is something great to be said for attending a school with a very large student population and extended community. Students may have the feeling of being part of something big, and standing in a sports stadium filled with thousands of fellow spirited fans can definitely portray a sense of power. But this environment isn't for everyone as some people may feel a bit lost in the crowd among so many others. This is where attending a private school can come as an advantage.
Largely speaking private schools have lower student populations than public schools which can fundamentally impact the student experience. High enrollment numbers often translate to very large class sizes, even into the hundreds in some general education courses. Arizona State University for example is listed as the largest public school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report with nearly 60,000 undergraduate students.
At private schools class sizes are often smaller which means that students can get one-on-one attention from their professors in most cases and deeper connections can be made among collaborating peers.
Similarly, as a result of smaller staff-to-student ratios, academic advisors can be more accessible for students attending private schools. I am personally proud of my educational experience at a large state university, but I can only recall meeting with my academic advisor one time during my four year tenure. When I heard some of my friends who attended private schools talk about meeting with their advisors on a regular basis and called them by name, I was pretty amazed. After switching majors and finding my own way along my academic path without assistance, I ended up taking extra classes that I didn't need for graduation. This made for a few very intense semesters full of stress that I could have avoided with the guidance of a regular advisor.
The support that student services provide can be very important to some scholars and often play influential roles in producing the higher graduation rates that private schools often boast. Some student-centric schools like Brandman University also offer every student a personal executive coach dedicated to helping him or her make a strong start to their educational careers.
This argument stands mainly for the on campus experience. It's natural to think that a lower school population equates to a higher level of diversity, but interestingly enough it doesn't always. Many public schools and state universities place a preference on accepting in state residents, primarily because funding comes from the pockets of local taxpayers. They even give financial incentives for residents to attend their schools with lower tuition rates for those from in the state. Actual prices vary from school to school, but it is not uncommon for significantly higher out-of-state tuition rates to deter students from attending some distant public schools. This means that the large majority of those within the population have seemingly similar backgrounds and experiences.
Students tend not to face this bias when they apply to a private school. Although admission requirements may be tighter than public schools with their limited enrollment goals, geography is not a primary factor for them. In fact they typically welcome applicants from states beyond their own and even encourage international students who have different perspectives and heritage. Chapman University for example has students from 49 states, extended U.S. territories and more than 60 different countries allowing students to learn from many different perspectives and cultural outlooks.
One of the biggest perceptions that students have when they apply to a private school is that it is too expensive for them to afford. Financing your education involves evaluating multiple options and students often overlook the fact that private colleges can sometimes offer better forms of financial aid to help them pay their expenses. Public universities may have fewer resources available to students, especially in times of financial strain, and when state budgets are falling into crisis public universities frequently become targets for cost cutting.
Difficult economic times can not only lead to a reduced ability to offer merit scholarships to students but also a reduction in the amount of full time faculty. This in turn can increase class sizes, threaten the students ability to enroll in a course which can ultimately extend the time to graduation. When students calculate the total price of a college education they also need to consider the opportunity cost of delayed income in addition to the potential expense of an extra semester or even a year. Private schools overall are less affected by external economic conditions because their funding comes from private donors and tuition endowments.
Although it is a myth that public schools are less rigorous, and many do in fact have reputations that rival their private competitors, some people continue to hold perceptions that private schools are more prestigious than public schools. After all the Ivy League system for example is comprised entirely of private schools. Business Insider recently explored this concept and awarded prestige by reputation to private schools saying:
Even if you've never set foot on a private campus, just the word alone –– private –– lends an allure of exclusivity and prestige. The top 20 schools on U.S. News & World Report's annual Best College rankings consistently go to private institutions for a reason. Class sizes are smaller, admission is selective, individual student attention is valued, and the curriculum is tough enough to attract top talent from around the world.
The article's author Mandi Woodruff points out a few of our top five reasons to apply to a private school in this quote. There will always be a shifting debate on the matter but there are many people that do rely on heritage and pedigree as indicators of quality.
In addition to receiving a quality education, many students look forward to being part of a strong and well established alumni network. This final reason encompasses all of the points we have mentioned so far:
Most schools, both private and public, are active on social networking sites and have a central office for alumni relations. Get feedback directly from the source and check out what types of alumni events will be available to you after graduation.
This short list of advantages takes a high level perspective that many recognize as generalizations. We understand that there are exceptions to these five categories on both the public and private sectors but these are a few things that new students may take into consideration when finding the right school that fits their needs.