What Are the Advantages of Attending Public Colleges?
While many students choose public universities over private schools for financial reasons, public colleges have other advantages as well. Accessibility and acceptance rates are other major pros of public universities.
Public schools almost always have less expensive tuition than private institutions, according to a recent College Board study, www.collegeboard.com. In 2008, the average cost to attend a public 4-year university for one year was $6,585, compared to $25,143 for a private 4-year university. For many students and families, that difference is significant enough to sway their decision about where to attend. Unlike private schools, public universities receive government funding, which keeps tuition lower.
Some public universities are more accessible than private schools because they have multiple campuses. This makes attendance convenient for students in varying locations. Major public colleges usually have a flagship campus, in addition to multiple satellite campuses all over the state. Each state has at least one public university bearing its name, while some larger states have as many as 30.
Both private and public universities can be academically competitive, but traditionally, private schools are more exclusive and have stricter admissions requirements. For students who don't have especially high grade-point averages or test scores, a public university might be the best fit.
However, even though private schools have been historically considered the most prestigious, many public schools have become increasingly well known for their high academic standards. In fact, the term 'Public Ivies' was coined in 1985 to refer to eight public universities that offered an Ivy League experience at a public college cost. Among these schools were:
- The University of California
- The University of Michigan
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill