Private vs. Public

<p>What is the difference between private and public colleges/universities?</p>

<p>Public universities are subsidized by the federal government (military academies) or by state governments (state universities). That means their tuition costs are kept significantly lower than that of private universities, at least for students living in that particular state.</p>

<p>Private universities are not tax-supported, and rely on tuition, grants, charitable giving and endowment income to operate.</p>

<p>^ what he said</p>

<p>The same applies to just about everything else in our country too. If something is officially labelled as "public", then it's paid by taxes/government. If it's "private", then it's not.</p>

<p>Is money the only difference or does the quality of education, recognition etc. differ?</p>

<p>By definition, it's not supposed to differ at all. But public schools are half-obligated to accept a lot of in-state students, as well as a decent amount of out-of-states. Therefore, they are considered less selective than private colleges who can accept or reject anyone they want for any reason. Of course, the absolute best professors in the world would prefer to work with students who, for the most part, are the best of the best. So a lot of them teach at private colleges, which are typically more selective than their public counterparts.</p>

<p>There are always exceptions, though. The UC schools are public, but still very prestigious. The U of Texas and U of Washington are also ranked in the Top 50.</p>

<p>Quality of education is a very elusive idea. People disagree on what it means and on where it's found. </p>

<p>You can get a quality education - whatever that means - at almost any college, if you are willing to work hard at it.</p>

<p>In terms of recognition, many schools, both public and private, are well-recognized within their regions. A few privates and even fewer publics are recognized nationally - except among the obsessed of CC - and except for those recognized primarily for their athletic programs. </p>

<p>Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I897 using CC App</p>

<p>Many of the best-known private schools were founded before the American Civil War. State universities started springing up in the late 19th century. This difference is often reflected in the architecture. Private schools typically have a campus core of old buildings built around grassy quadrangles in a Gothic or Classical style. Some of the older public universities followed the same patterns, but public universities more typically feature large, modern, concrete-and-glass structures arranged to accomodate vehicle traffic and larger student populations.</p>

<p>University</a> Gothic
University</a> Modern</p>

<p>This architectural difference is not uniform. Most private schools have at least some modern buildings; many public schools have some old buildings. To observe the differences (and how they may affect the campus atmosphere), go visit.</p>

<p>Private schools often have a lot more money to give to students (in financial aid and scholarships). Public schools are losing a lot of their funding (due to budget cuts), so their tuitions are going up a lot (especially UCs), but they don't have a lot of money to offset the costs for most students. It all depends on the particular person and college though.
There are people who will pay less at Harvard then they would at their in-state college. There are also people who do pay sticker price at NYU and could have gone to their in-state college for a fraction of the cost.</p>

<p>There are a lot of factors that go into "quality of education" and most if not all of them are personal perceptions. So reputation and quality become what you define them. The biggest difference between public universities and private tends to be size of student body. Public schools will for the most part be substantially larger than private schools. Depending on where you live your state flagship, "University of StateName", may have 20,000 - 40,000+ undergrads in attendance. Conversely, a medium-large size private will have 15,000 undergrads and a small liberal arts college as few as 1,000.</p>

<p>The difference comes in class sizes. For introductory general classes (Econ 1, Psych 1, Calc 1, etc) it's not unusual to have 300 - 500 students in the lectures at a big public. With that many students you're unlikely to have any meaningful interaction with the professor unless you actively and consistently seek him out during office hours (and with more "famous" professors you may find that those office hours are run by pHd candidates anyway). So does it really matter if your Econ professor has a Noble Prize if you have no interaction with her? After all, supply and demand curves are the same at all colleges.</p>

<p>At a small private schools classes will generally be smaller and in some cases substantially so. In a class of 20 your professor will know if you're missing. She also might recognize you as you're both walking across campus one day. To my way of thinking that's where a small private school beats a big state school. Having a chance to establish on-going relationships with faculty will have more of an impact of your future career than whether you sat in the lecture hall of some award-winning prof.</p>

<p>At big publics the classes sizes do shrink as you get deeper into your major. At that point you'll get more access to individual professors. Finally, remember that a lot of a school's reputation comes from their graduate programs. That's where the big gun profs are doing their research and much of their lecturing. Yes some of that trickles down to the undergrads but probably not as much as people hope.</p>

<p>FWIW, in my experience, the 8,000 - 15,000 undergrad private school has the best combination of access to faculty along with being large enough to offer a wide variety of subject matter.</p>

<p>I'm a student at Clemson entering my junior year. I've had 3 classes of 100 students but that's about it. About 3/4 of my classes have been 30-40 students or fewer. All my office hours have been run by professors and I've had tons of opportunities to do research with them and develop relationships with them even through my first 2 years.</p>

<p>I feel that the quality of education has been above and beyond what I expected from a public institution (having heard the rumors before entering Clemson of what a large public college would be like)</p>

<p>So I disagree with all these myths about public schools. I have had an experience that contradicts this. And I'm not even an honors student! They get a lot more opportunities than I do!</p>

<p>The thing with public schools is that all these opportunities are out there but you have to seek them out yourself. There are so many students that nobody is going to spoon feed you and tell you that you have to do this and that. If you are very self-motivated and always seeking the best opportunities for yourself and your career, you can succeed at any school!</p>

<p>Well said pierre! Some of this is similiar to "nonprofit" vs. "capitalistic" organizations. Public universities know that they are going to; 1) be funded 2) always have a lot of students because of the cost. Privates must be more concerned with giving individual attention, updating facilities, etc. because much of their funding comes from the perception of alumni & other donors. They, in general, make more of an effort to ensure each students success & thus retention.</p>

<p>
[QUOTE]
I've had 3 classes of 100 students but that's about it. About 3/4 of my classes have been 30-40 students or fewer.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Well, depending on whether those were one-semester or two-semester classes, and assuming you're talking five-course loads each semester, that means that somewhere between 15% and 30% of your classes have been 100 students or more.</p>

<p>Let me ask you: if you're in a lecture hall with 100 other kids and the professor explains something you don't understand, do you feel free to raise your hand and ask a question? And ask again if you still don't understand? If not, and if the point you're confused about is at the beginning of the lecture, and if understanding the rest of the lecture depends on understanding that point, then what do you do?</p>

<p>At a private LAC we recently toured, the tour guide said the largest class she'd had in 3 years had been 28 students. At another, the bio professor was apologizing because the previous year they'd had to cram 45 kids into the freshman bio class. At the same college (the second) the neuroscience prof said she meets for at least half an hour with each of her advisees twice a semester. At a third, the Russian prof said that her first- and second-year Russian classes rarely have more than 10 students and advanced classes often just 2 or 3. </p>

<p>At two of the three LACs we visited, DD had an interview as part of the visit (and the third was an open house day, so no interviews); at one they even had a reserved parking spot for us with her name on it. At none of the three mid-sized universities were they offering interviews, just group sessions followed by tours. I think this is a precursor to the way small schools work with students as individuals and larger schools look at students as numbers.</p>

<p>
[quote]
If you are very self-motivated and always seeking the best opportunities for yourself and your career, you can succeed at any school!

[/quote]
</p>

<p>With that, I agree wholeheartedly.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Private universities are not tax-supported, and rely on tuition, grants, charitable giving and endowment income to operate.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>public unis are more and more relying on these things as well.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Depending on where you live your state flagship, "University of StateName", may have 20,000 - 40,000+ undergrads in attendance. Conversely, a medium-large size private will have 15,000 undergrads and a small liberal arts college as few as 1,000.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>this is generally true. but it should be noted that student size doesn't really reflect on quality: Columbia and USC have student bodies comparable to those of public unis as well, but i doubt people try to say that that is to their detriment, or effects their quality as elite universities.</p>

<p>
[quote]
The difference comes in class sizes. For introductory general classes (Econ 1, Psych 1, Calc 1, etc) it's not unusual to have 300 - 500 students in the lectures at a big public. With that many students you're unlikely to have any meaningful interaction with the professor unless you actively and consistently seek him out during office hours (and with more "famous" professors you may find that those office hours are run by pHd candidates anyway)

[/quote]
</p>

<p>You're right that introductory classes have a lot of people in them. but they also have a lot of people who simply aren't majoring in the subject of the class, and therefore aren't that interested in the professor. If I were a math major for example, why would I care how famous the econ professor is? It’s unlikely to assist me in any way academically. In my experience, at least, most people don't take advantage, and aren't interested in taking advantage, of the high quality faculty they have available to them. As a result, it's not difficult at all to develop close relationships with professors or TAs.</p>

<p>Yes, you may have to actively go seek out a professor, but who says this is a bad thing? Having a relationship with a professor in this way is essentially academic networking. I don’t get this misconception that public university professors are supposed to be unfriendly, whereas small LAC professors are supposed to be outgoing and caring. It really depends on the person IMO.</p>

<p>
[quote]
At a small private schools classes will generally be smaller and in some cases substantially so. In a class of 20 your professor will know if you're missing. She also might recognize you as you're both walking across campus one day. To my way of thinking that's where a small private school beats a big state school. Having a chance to establish on-going relationships with faculty will have more of an impact of your future career than whether you sat in the lecture hall of some award-winning prof.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>One of my non-major classes, Latin, was one where the professors and TAs all knew everybody's name, and there was maybe ~15-20 students in the class (I had a discussion with 5 students in it, including me). My professors and all my TAs recognize me, as they would other students, from the class. Apparently my latin professor and I have similar research interests and he even sent me one of his papers which was good (although very difficult to read and understand). And after we finished Latin for the year, maybe 10 students, myself included, went out for drinks with him after the final. If you’re interested in developing a relationship with your teacher, you will, and if you’re not, you won’t. It’s as simple as that.</p>

<p>As much as I mean everything that I said here, and I do, I would advise anyone reading this to take it with a grain of salt. My public university is not at all representative of the vast majority of public universities in the united states, so I have access to quality, and resources, which most do not.</p>

<p>annasdad, these were 1 semester classes. And yes people did raise their hand and ask questions. In fact in one of my classes (a history class), we got bonus points for participating in class so the teacher even tried to give us an incentive for participating in class. It's up to you to get the help that you need and if you feel nervous about speaking up in front of 100 people (which is a good skill to acquire) make use of office hours! Office hours are so underused by college students it is not funny. I know professors who make office hours but nobody ever goes to them. It is a chance for you to get the one-on-one help that you need! Public schools can't help it that they are big so big classes are inevitable but the help is there if you need it and you just need to seek it out!</p>

<p>Also, at Clemson at least, we have an amazing tutoring program for the majority of the classes for the first 2 years (and if there isn't a tutor and 3 students or more want one, you can request one!). Also for large classes over 50 students, we have a program called Supplemental Instruction where students who have previously taken the class with an A sit in the class for you, then hold review sessions during the week to go over the material and answer any questions you have.</p>

<p>Between office hours, tutoring and supplemental instruction at Clemson, there are more than enough opportunities to seek help if you need it!</p>

<p>Not all flagships are giant, impersonal machines. The University of Idaho, where I earned my bachelor's degree, has just 11,000 students. I spent a year at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, with only 5,000 students. You can find quality, intimate experiences at public universities too.</p>

<p>agreed with polarscribe, are there large giant impersonal public universities? You bet! (although there are always ways to make it feel more personal and smaller). But there are public schools that are like private LAC's. To name a few:</p>

<p>New College Of Florida
UNC-Asheville
St. Mary's College Of Maryland
University Of Minnesota-Morris
College Of Charleston
SUNY-Geneseo
pretty sure I'm missing a few too</p>

<p>Add Truman State in Missouri to that list</p>

<p>Large publics also offer around 150 majors, scores of languages, every science known in depth taught by a real leader in the field. You rarely even major in "biology". You are in biochemistry or microbiology, or botany or zoology or microbial sciences or plant pathology and more. Each dept will have state of the art labs, a specialized library, lots of research projects underway, and an entire building of their own that will become your home for your last 2-3 years as a major in the field. That applies to nearly all of the larger majors I can think of. Each is like a small college within a larger university.</p>