Public Universities vs. Private Colleges in the United States

28th Jun 2018 blog, College Applications

After earning a high school degree, there are many post-secondary choices for a student, such as attending a Community College, Public College, or Private College, which includes Ivy League Universities. What are the differences in availability, cost, location, and admissions requirements? We’ve outlined that information for you.

Community Colleges

Community Colleges offer associate degrees, which typically are not offered at four-year schools. These subject areas may include firefighting academy, welding, appliance technician, plumber, etc. A community college is a great place to begin a specialized vocational career. Community colleges are located in all major cities.  They do not usually offer student housing and are therefore significantly less expensive than four-year colleges. Some students attend a community college with the plan to transfer, in order to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Public Colleges

Public Colleges are usually less expensive than private colleges, because they are subsidized by the state’s government. In addition, public universities may have less rigorous admissions requirements than private schools. Since public schools are typically larger, they offer more majors from which to choose, larger campuses, and more opportunities outside the classroom.

Private Colleges

Private Colleges typically admit applicants based on their best-fit candidates, which makes their admission rates typically lower than most public universities. Since these schools are so highly competitive, due to the limited number of available spots, they also tend to be very expensive.

Private colleges offer some distinct advantages for their higher cost:

  • Private schools control their own admissions requirements, giving them room to make admissions decisions for many special situations.
  • Because private schools control their own money, typically in the form of an endowment, they may have more money for merit scholarships.
  • Private colleges typically have a smaller student enrollment, which means smaller classes and more direct contact with faculty.

Ivy League Schools

Ivy League Schools, all of which are private, include Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Pennsylvania, and Yale. The Ivy League schools are very well known for their high quality education, high cost, and high value network of alumni. These schools see continual increases in admissions applications, and therefore admit a smaller and smaller percentage of their applicants each year. Fun fact: many people do not know that the Ivy League was started because a small group of colleges wanted to play football against one another.

Liberal Arts Colleges

Liberal Arts Colleges typically fall within the small, private school category. The benefits they offer include a focus on the fundamentals of academics and the humanities. Many offer some science majors, though it is not their focus. These schools are smaller private schools, with as few as 1,000 – 2,000 students enrolled at any given time.

The choice is yours! Narrowing your choices down from 4,000 colleges across the country to a handful that fit your needs is the more difficult part, but that’s why UCEazy is here.