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Pros and Cons of Public Flagship vs Private Colleges

socaldad2002socaldad2002 1209 replies24 postsRegistered User Senior Member
As a product of the University of California college system, I used to assume that my kids would go there someday as I received a pretty good education and it’s ”relatively” affordable for in-state students. However, many of the high stat kids from D20’s high school will be applying to many private colleges throughout the U.S. and using the UCs as back-up colleges.

Why do you think this is? Is there something about top 50 private colleges that should make them more attractive than the top public colleges?
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Replies to: Pros and Cons of Public Flagship vs Private Colleges

  • Twoin18Twoin18 1460 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    "However, many of the high stat kids from D20’s high school will be applying to many private colleges throughout the U.S. and using the UCs as back-up colleges."

    Until they get results and compare the costs. Unless you are in an extremely rich area, a lot of those high stat kids will pick the UCs in the end. Most 17 year olds have dreams of going elsewhere, and there are no guarantees of getting into UCB/UCLA. What does your high school list as college destinations for the 2018 graduates?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77199 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Wouldn't be surprised if the types of colleges matriculated to varies by high school.

    Average public HS: mostly state universities and community colleges.

    Public HS in wealthy area: more private and out of state colleges, but still many to state universities.

    Academically elite private HS: mostly private colleges, fewer to state universities.

    Religious HS: more likely to colleges of that religion.
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1209 replies24 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    “What does your high school list as college destinations for the 2018 graduates?”

    Her SoCal HS graduating class is around 400, while many kids will apply to the CSU/UCs, the top 50 to 70 seem to apply heavily to the ivies, USC, Washu, Vanderbilt, Duke, Tulane, Boston privates, NYU, etc and seem to favor these colleges. Most are full pay. Just wondering if these families know something that I’m not thinking of, such as graduating on time, smaller classes, better alumni network, more internships oppos, etc
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  • firstwavemomfirstwavemom 367 replies3 postsRegistered User Member
    Top 50 private colleges will cost more than your IS public universities unless a student qualifies for financial aid and merit. Plenty of non-top 50 privates do offer great merit money.

    We do not qualify for financial aid, so for us, private schools and OOS publics are much more expensive than our in-state public schools, even with merit.

    Private universities will offer a more intimate campus feel, smaller class sizes, more individualized advising, and probably a more diverse geographic mix of students. There may be great alumni networks and great research opportunities, depending on the major.
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  • thumper1thumper1 73828 replies3220 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @socaldad2002

    Applying is one thing...anyone can apply. BUT how many will actually attend these colleges?

    The question was...how many from the 2018 graduating class went to these top 50 colleges?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77199 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Re: #6

    If it is mainly wealthy full pay families, then it is not a surprise that they will use money to greatly expand their kids' choice of colleges, rather than be limited by financial limits like most students and families. E.g. NYU (with its poor FA and limited merit scholarships) is not a realistic application for students from non wealthy families (a high reach at best for merit scholarships for top end students), but wealthy families can include it in the application list.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22448 replies14 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Most public colleges, the flagships anyway, are large. Even if they are in a remote area, they become a city in themselves with restaurants and theater and concerts. They often have big time sports, either at the school or professional teams in the area. Most large publics have all the majors you can think of, and allow switching between the schools.

    Some of the top 20 schools are rural and may have more limited offerings, such as no engineering or music schools. Not all are, of course. For me, a school with fewer than 3000 students is just too small.

    If you live in California, you (or your kids) would have to decide just how far away they want to go. It's a long way to Colby Maine or Williamstown Mass. Planes, trains and automobiles.
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  • oldfortoldfort 22873 replies290 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    In 2017 UC Berkeley faced 150 mill budget deficit. They admitted more out of state students and cut budget to help with the deficit. They are in better shape now, but it is after a lot of fund raising and cutting programs. As an OOS why would I pay the same for a public school that is beholden to a state's budget when I could be a full pay at a top private that has the best facility and wider course offerings? If we lived in CA, I may consider to send my kid to Berkeley because of discount, but it is not a value when you compare it to Cornell, NU or Duke.
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  • scubadivescubadive 1091 replies3 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think it is a matter of the area in which you live and your background. We live in an area where publics are far more common. Most kids here want to stay in the south and we have plenty of big SEC schools to choose from. Secondly many parents of even high income families like the instate deal we have. Essentially many students get free tuition at any instate university or 80% of instate rates paid by the state’s lottery system.

    Personally having attended a small liberal arts school I found it stifling and limited, so I have pushed for the big state publics where the offerings of majors seem limitless. Now where I grew up private was more common but thats the NE.

    Basically we have all different thoughts on the matter.
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1209 replies24 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @thumper1 what I’m seeing is the top kids that do get in to these top private colleges and UCLA/UCB are choosing to go private. My D20 will likely be one of those high stat kids and god willing will have options between UCs, other state public flagships and some private colleges. Any insight is appreciated.
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  • tdy123tdy123 675 replies14 postsRegistered User Member
    edited April 7
    @thumper1 wrote "Well....some of those top 50 schools have very generous need based aid awarding policies...that could bring the cost of attending down to what a UC would cost."

    To which I would add that some of those - outside the IVYs and a few others - also have generous merit aid as well.

    As a result, many of the students who are fortunate enough to be accepted to both top privates and public flagships find top privates to be less, or even significantly less, expensive than instate public flagships.
    edited April 7
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  • wis75wis75 13932 replies62 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Finances is the biggest reason to choose a cheaper public U over a private one.

    The elite tier of public flagships make it hard to look at the many lesser private schools so many on CC need to consider relative to their flagship. So, it depends on your state. Why spend more on a school with fewer available courses, no grad offerings et al. Honors programs can offer many of the so called advantages of private schools. The elite students, ie those with equivalent stats/ability, often end up at their flagship U.

    I guess cons would include sharing a school with many more students and those merely good instead of better. One could list many pros and cons- depending on the individual public and private school being compared.
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  • pangolinzpangolinz 11 replies3 postsRegistered User New Member
    I agree about UC's being very competitive. You are fortunate if you can be admitted. There are 70,000+ applicants to some of these schools.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12638 replies232 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited April 7
    @socaldad2002
    Just wondering if these families know something that I’m not thinking of, such as graduating on time, smaller classes, better alumni network, more internships oppos, etc

    From what I know of the UCs, the first two might be concerns - it's worth looking at those closely. The 4 year grad rate of 75%-ish for the top 2 UCs. You can look at course catalogs for class sizes.

    The last two on your list likely vary from school to school, and kid to kid. Is there a formal (electronic directory at least) alumni network at those UCs? A mentoring program? Are summer internships made available to students by the university itself, and/or is there a source for them in the career center's offerings?
    edited April 7
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  • ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 486 replies8 postsRegistered User Member
    When I've looked at the UC admissions by source school data for our high schools, it seems clear that only about 1/3 of the students who apply to Cal/UCLA get in. What surprises me even more is how few actually apply to Cal or UCLA. It's only about 25% of the class. Also, it used to be the UCSB and UCSD were pretty much guaranteed for high stats kids from our school, but that's no longer the case. I think the kids are choosing to ED to privates partly out of the realistic fear they won't get into a UC they desire, so they never even end up applying to UCs. And, yes, of course, the private school offers a different experience. I think since so many California kids go to massively huge high schools (4000 students is not uncommon, right?), so the smaller private colleges can be really appealing and different.
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