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Pros and Cons of Public Flagship vs Private Colleges

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Replies to: Pros and Cons of Public Flagship vs Private Colleges

  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1066 replies27 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,093 Senior Member
    Private elites generally provide more funding, better facilities, more interactions with professors, and have higher concentrations of more capable students, and cachet with some employers. But not all students can or will take advantage of these benefits. With a few exceptions, most of these elites aren't as meritocratic as they used to be, and their students are far from uniformly more capable than their public flagship counterparts. In fact, between high tuitions and finicky and inconsistent admission standards, many who would have gone to these private elites in years past have chosen or have had to choose public flagships. These students would generally do just as well. The determining factor is always the student himself or herself.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1214 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,222 Senior Member
    @CU123 You seem to be conflating "rich, going to right schools, and do well at tests" with "talented".

    Besides, once again, Harvard does not teach their students about 50% of the skills that they need to succeed at jobs, and no matter how well a kid does on homework, quizzes, exams, and standardized tests, it says very little about how well they do in a real life situation.

    As a scientists and a combat soldier, I can tell you that how well a person does in a classroom is, more often than not, a bad indicators of how well they'll do in real life situations. This is especially true for kids who have had their path to an Ivy paved with money and privilege.

    @1NJParent Elites are just about as meritocratic as they have been since the started with "holistic admissions" in the early 20th century.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1066 replies27 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,093 Senior Member
    Elites are just about as meritocratic as they have been since the started with "holistic admissions" in the early 20th century.
    No. Not all holistic admissions are the same. There are various degrees of holism. For example, some top public flagships are holistic too, but they're clearly much less "holistic" than the private elites. Many private elites have become much more "holistic" over the years. Near universal grade inflation in both high schools and colleges, easier and less discriminating standardized tests, the desire for more diversity, etc. have all contributed to much more holistic approaches we see today. The trend is continuing as some colleges become test optional. The definition of "holistic admission" has been changing, if it ever were defined.
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  • natty1988natty1988 592 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 600 Member
    SMU is very popular with students at my California private school. And every year we have anywhere from 5-10 kids applying and at least 3 or 4 who choose to attend. The year before D graduated we had 6 kids who went to SMU! In S's class we only had 6 kids applying and only 1 kid has decided to attend. But, it is a popular school!
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  • natty1988natty1988 592 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 600 Member
    @SuperSenior19 very true!
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76498 replies665 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77,163 Senior Member
    MWolf wrote:
    Elites are just about as meritocratic as they have been since the started with "holistic admissions" in the early 20th century.

    In the 1950s, the elites like HYP were probably much less meritocratic than now for the majority of the students in their classes, which were taken from social elite (then not academically elite) private boarding schools, with some actual academic elite students from everywhere (mainly public schools at the time) and more likely on scholarship (financial aid). The social elite students were content to get "gentleman's C" grades to graduate into their well-connected lives, while the actual academic elite students were striving for A grades and academic achievement.

    Now, of course, even the "preferred" groups are held to much higher minimum academic standards than they were in the 1950s, and the social elite boarding schools have also increased their emphasis on academic achievement, so that the social elite scions can bring in academic merit instead of being too obvious as "preferred" admits of lesser academic merit.
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  • CU123CU123 3308 replies58 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,366 Senior Member
    @itsgettingreal17 yes, TOP students at flagships are competitive with elite school graduates.

    @roycroftmom don't know any professors like that, IOW your saying that the very top high school students somehow regress to a lower level once attending an elite college and the state universities bloom to great heights.

    @MWolf In holistic admissions only about half of the admission decision is based on academics, the other half is based on what they think of the person as demonstrated by EC's and essays. Harvard doesn't want and more Ted Kazcynski's. BTW my DD was floored by the talent at UChicago and she wasn't talking about academics.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1214 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,222 Senior Member
    @CU123 I have been around academia for decades, and have seen the talent in a much larger number of colleges than just UChicago. As I wrote at least a half a dozen times earlier, there are more kids who are above the average for UChicago at UIUC than there are students at UChicago.

    "Harvard doesn't want and more Ted Kazcynski's". Wow, you really believe that T-20s are run by super-humans for super-humans. You really seem to think that "holistic admissions" means that every application is run through Precogs who create accurate psychological and intellectual profiles of every one of the 40,000 Harvard applicants, and choose Only The Very Best Of The Best Of The Best, including accurate 30 year predictions of the behaviors of every student who is accepted.
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  • liska21liska21 625 replies10 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 635 Member
    edited June 4
    Responding to comment #183, waaay back up thread. In my kids' mid-tier private HS in Seattle, about 10 out of a class of 70 went to in-state public universities (6 or so to the flagship, 4 or so to other public state schools). The rest went OOS, primarily to privates. I think there were like 2-3 CA OOS publics and 5 international public. Most of the kids going to OOS privates were not going to T20, but rather next tier down. Only one of the top 10% went to our flagship and he got into CS which is very highly ranked. However, very few of the seniors listed engineering as their targeted major (which surprised me). The public/private split at the public HS will be very different---many more will go to the in-state publics.

    As someone else wrote upthread, I think this trend is simply that families of kids in private HSs can afford private college.

    But a few thoughts on why this is:
    * There are many more families at publics that cannot afford privates that don't cover 100% need. And there are many more families who cannot afford their EFC at a school that does cover 100% need. I am not sure about the public school kids from families that fit more the private school profile (2-income, parents with graduate degrees). The kids of parents in my friend group also went OOS private, but that is a small sample size.

    * Culture I. Even if your parents can afford your EFC, at the public HSs there is not the 'culture' of the majority of seniors going to OOS privates so there is nothing odd about going in-state. That's not the case at my kids' private HS.

    * The families at my kids' private HS tend to be 2-income with graduate degrees. This is a highly 'migratory' group. It is very unusual to find someone who grew up in WA, much less Seattle, at any social school gathering. The kids come from a 'culture' of academic migration.

    * Culture II. The decision to go 'private' happened long before college decisions. Most families at my kids' HS made decision in elementary school and they continue on that path. Note, ca 40% of HS students in Seattle are in private or parochial schools; I counted it up one day out of curiosity.

    * Families are willing to pay extra for their kids to go to a school where there is more guidance and advising; they don't want to risk their kid to 'falling through the cracks'. A 4-year grad rate in the 80s versus something in the 60s or 70s (or 50s...).
    edited June 4
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  • EllieMomEllieMom 1872 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,883 Senior Member
    edited June 4
    @MWolf I cannot agree with you more. The assumption that every student who goes to an elite private school is automatically branded with an übermensch mark during orientation week is immediately dispelled once one expands their circle of friends and acquaintances. I went to our state flagship, while my business partner of 20 years had degrees from both Harvard and UChicago. UIUC grads can hold their own intellectually and professionally with graduates from elites. And, at the same time, not all grads from elite schools go on to be leaders in their fields. My colleagues, neighbors, and friends have degrees from a wide range of schools (and some have no degrees at all). It really is not apparent who went to Princeton and who went to Illinois State.

    That being said, I think my own child benefited from going to a well-respected, private research university (but not tippy-top so without the "ooooh" factor that more popular schools inspire). I think she might have been intimidated in a larger school and would have played it safer there. It wasn't the in-class learning or the prestige branding that made the difference. Instead, it was being in an environment where she felt the right combination of challenge and encouragement which resulted in a college experience that allowed her to be her best self. For another kid with her "talent" that balance might have been found at a large pubic flagship or a somewhat more elite private. I know "fit" is an elusive concept, but it's real. At least in my experience.
    edited June 4
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76498 replies665 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77,163 Senior Member
    liska21 wrote:
    * Families are willing to pay extra for their kids to go to a school where there is more guidance and advising; they don't want to risk their kid to 'falling through the cracks'. A 4-year grad rate in the 80s versus something in the 60s or 70s (or 50s...).

    Of course, to find higher graduation rates, just go to the most academically selective college with the students from the richest families (and where you can easily afford). The more academically selective college will have fewer weak students who have higher risk of dropping out for academic reasons, and students from rich families are less likely to drop out because they run out of money. Your personal risk of the latter is reduced by choosing a comfortably affordable college.
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  • liska21liska21 625 replies10 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 635 Member
    @ucbalumnus I should have written 'where parents perceive...'. Parents at my kids' HS are aware of these studies that say outcome is independent of UG school and yet across the board their kids choose OOS privates and the parents choose to foot the bill.
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  • natty1988natty1988 592 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 600 Member
    @liska21 The high school that I work at and both my kids have attended is similar to your kid's HS. It's located in South Orange County which is an affluent area. There are a few differences though..many, but not all of the parents and families are originally from Southern California or Northern California. Lots of parents who attended schools like USC (uni of southern california), UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, Pepperdine, etc. And we have a good chunk of kids who apply to attend and schools like UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, UC Davis each year. That said, private schools are very popular and a LOT of kids from our school go to out of state privates. And going far away to college is definitely part of the culture at our school. That said, a good amount do stay in state and go to California publics and privates...
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