Choosing the right college for you is a difficult decision, and one involving a lot of factors. Those factors include location, costs, the availability and strength of the undergraduate program you are interested in, and also how comfortable you feel in the campus environment. All these factors are important, as is choosing a college where you are most likely to succeed.
Some students prefer the more intimate atmosphere of a small, private college. Other students thrill at the dynamic energy provided by a larger, public university. Still other students aren’t ready for the challenges of college life right out of high school, and prefer the less pressured atmosphere of a community college while they adapt to the demands of higher education.
Each of these options has their pros and cons, so it’s important to determine the right choice for you.
The best private colleges provide a full range of undergraduate majors, as well as Master’s and Ph.D. programs. They should also show a commitment to original research. Private colleges often offer students small class sizes and more personal interaction with faculty and staff. The main drawback is cost. The annual tuition and fees for a private college ranges from $40,000-$50,000 per year. However, because many private colleges have large endowments from the generous donations of their alumni, they are often able to provide scholarships and tuition assistance to deserving students.
Most public universities also offer a full range of undergraduate majors, as well as Master’s and Ph.D. programs. At state-run public colleges, a greater emphasis is placed on faculty research.
Attending a public university is much cheaper than attending a private college. Public schools are operated under the supervision of state governments and give discounted tuition rates to residents of the state. In-state tuition at public colleges averages less than $9,000. Out-of-state students at public universities will pay an average of $22,000, still far less than most private colleges.
Community colleges offer two-year Associate of Arts degrees, as well as career training programs. Attending a community college allows students who don’t desire a Bachelors degree to focus on a specific technical career without the burden of traditional liberal arts courses.
However, community colleges can also serve as stepping stones for students who want to eventually continue their education at a four-year institution. Many high school graduates are unsure of their future plans, and attending a community college allows them to obtain an AA degree—at far less the tuition cost of a four-year school–while deciding what they want to major in. Credits from accredited community colleges usually transfer to four-year colleges and universities.