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Pros and Cons of Public Flagship vs Private Colleges


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

  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School 3316 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    It always comes down to value and fit. My son attends Michigan (in-state) in engineering. Great experience, outstanding facilities, $20K/yr tuition, 10K living expenses, $30K total. The private alternatives - of which only a handful are ranked better - were over $65K. His cousin attended Caltech. $55K tuition + 15K expenses. His alternatives were equally expensive because his home state (NY) doesn't have an engineering school of the same caliber. Public options were not much cheaper either.

    The experience at Caltech was a lot more personal with outstanding facilities and professors. Not so much on the social side, including exposure to other students in the humanities and sports. At the same time, there is something to be said for size. My son at Michigan is heavily involved with his honor society and the symposiums and conferences that they put on. It's a lot harder to do that when your school has only a small number of students.

    Both kids attended the top private HS in their region. Most of the kids in the NY HS went private. Most of the kids in the Michigan HS went public. The vast majority of students at both HS could have afforded either.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1212 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,220 Senior Member
    @theloniusmonk @natty1988 Thank you both for your kind words.

    @TooOld4School "It always comes down to value and fit". Yep, though, because I got into alliterations when my kid was young and never got over them, I prefer: "Fit and Finances".
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76479 replies665 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77,144 Senior Member
    Lynnski wrote:
    It's true that most students go public. That's simply numbers. But why do so many of us buy into the notion that privates are actually better? To what degree is it about: Status? Facilities? Personal attention? Relationships? Class stratification?

    Probably because most people here think of HYPSM or AWS or other highly selective and prestigious school with a luxury class student experience (due to their wealth), rather than schools like Mount St. Mary's University ("drown the bunnies") when they see the word "private".
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7059 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,066 Senior Member
    edited May 4
    My daughter applied to a mix of private and public schools. They were all excellent. The final decision was based on fit and affordability...private v public was not part of the equation.

    edited May 4
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1131 replies22 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,153 Senior Member
    “The entire ideology of those "DukeEngage" programs is actually pretty awful. I am sorry, but a bunch of wealthy American colleges student are not qualified to figure out the entire social and cultural set of issues that go into implementing these solutions. In fact, the entire idea absolutely REEKS of privilege, paternalism, and borderline racism. Seriously, what the program is saying is that "At Duke we are SO superior to you benighted peoples, that our 18 year old kids, who have never left their bubble of wealth and privilege, can solve your most difficult issues in 3 hours a week, over 13 weeks". Gag.”

    Interesting perspective. I have never heard anyone claim these programs as “racist”. My BIL is an pediatric anesthesiologist and every year he travels to places like Guatemala to provide free surgical care to patients who cannot afford such procedures. I’m wondering if you consider his work, racist?

    Regarding DukeEngage, seems like a win, win. Engineering students work as a team designing and building a new bridge for an impoverished community that needs one.
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  • raclutraclut 3686 replies233 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,919 Senior Member
    edited May 5
    @riversider My siblings and I all attended excellent private colleges for undergrad and grad school. (top tier) I think that is why I said I was pleasantly surprised with my daughter's experience at a large public university. I'm from VA and we have excellent public universities. For instate residents I think it's foolish not to consider them.

    The public school system here is absolutely great. We even have TJHSST (magnet school) for the brightest students interested in STEM. I relocated to this state intentionally when my D was very small knowing that she would get an excellent education here.
    edited May 5
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  • 1stTimeThruMom1stTimeThruMom 225 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    So...having taken classes at both, I agree that unless you are in a flagship honors program, the feel of in-state vs private is very different.

    What about the difference between in-state smaller colleges (ie St. Mary’s in MD, William & Mary, Miami of Ohio) and private? Can any of these publics - or any others you name - replicate the special attention that private universities pay to their students?
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  • RiversiderRiversider 647 replies72 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 719 Member
    edited May 5
    I enjoy anecdotes as much as the next person but they doesn’t change reality for the majority.

    Just because some one attended an elite school but their kid can’t get accepted at one or their is not enough money to not care about the expense and financial aid is not enough, they have to pick public and defend the choice personally and with others too. It’s not a choice, it’s a compromise and can’t be called a choice.

    edited May 5
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