Many students find themselves faced with a dilemma over where to go to college---a public or a private university? Students looking for advice on which to choose would be wise to consider all advantages and disadvantages of attending one type over the other. Here are some advantages of attending a public state university:
Probably the biggest advantage to going to a public state university is its financial allure. Public universities often have lower tuition than private universities because public universities receive some funding from their state, while private universities derive almost all of their money from tuition. If the student resides in the state in which the public university is located, or resides in a state that has a reciprocity agreement with that university, the student will be able to take advantage of in-state tuition prices. This can add up to considerable savings---for example, 2009-2010 tuition and fees at the public University of Massachusetts at Amherst for Massachusetts residents are $11,372, but that same Massachusetts resident would pay $40,256 in tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year at the nearby private Mount Holyoke college. By going to the public university, then, the student would save almost $30,000 per year, or $120,000 over a four-year education.
In general, public state universities are larger and enroll more students than private universities. A larger pool of students at a university means a larger pool of potential friends. Though some students worry about "fitting in" and finding their place at a larger university, the higher number of students at a public state university actually provides first-year students with more opportunities to find friends, because the larger university will probably offer more student groups and ways to get involved with other students than the smaller one.
Along with enrolling more students, public state universities often offer more activities for students than smaller private universities. For example, the public Pennsylvania State University has 778 registered student organizations as of November 2009, including a knitting activism club and a Harry Potter fan club group that organizes annual Quidditch games. The nearby Lafayette College, which is private, offers around 200 student organizations.
One of the biggest benefits to a newly minted college graduate is his school's alumni network. Alumni can help other alumni or students at their alma mater find jobs, get into graduate schools, or simply answer questions about a specific field or profession. Going to a public state school means that the student will have access to that school's alumni network, which is often more extensive than a smaller private school's network.