Attending a private college or university can offer the added benefit of smaller class sizes, intimate, hands-on learning experiences, and more direct support from the academic faculty. But with the rising price of college rising every year, is a private college or university actually worth it?

Cost vs Worth

Private colleges are often known for their close-knit community, sense of comradery, and dedicated instructors that are invested in the educational and personal lives of their students. Private colleges can also be a great place to get a head start on your career, provided your high-school transcripts are indicative of your current academic zeal. For instance, Hamilton College is a small school in upstate New York which boasts a track record of alumni ranging from U.S. ambassadors, CEOs, and Tony-Award winning playwrights. Certainly, an argument can be made for the impressive history of private colleges, but is the cost worth it?

According to the College Board, the average cost of private colleges in the U.S. was upwards of $34,000 dollars for the 2017-2018 school year. Compare that with the average cost of $9,000 for state residents at public colleges, and the difference is no small thing. The history of private colleges certainly show that the price is not completely in vain, but with rising prices and the emergence of new (especially digital) ways of learning, more incoming college freshman are beginning to consider the cost vs. worth question.

The Advantage of Public Colleges

While public colleges and universities may often demand less when it comes to the high school GPA and extracurricular activities of their incoming students, this doesn’t mean they’re looked down upon by any means. In fact, many of the larger public colleges and universities boast world-renowned labs, research facilities, and teaching spaces. Also, you are more likely to surround yourself with a more diverse student body at a public college, as less focus is given to a student meeting an exact litany of qualifications. Public colleges also typically offer a wider and more expansive curriculum of study. This can be especially useful for students who are still actively seeking out their niche area of study.

The Verdict

In the end, you get out of your education what you put into it. If you qualify for a public college, then you may find yourself to be a great fit for a smaller, more close-knit education. Also, if a post-college career is something of a focus for you, private colleges do have a 53 percent graduation rate (compared to the 33 percent graduation rate of public schools).

However, public colleges are becoming the go-to choice for many intelligent and highly-driven people. If you are someone who can diligently study and grow, all the while surrounding yourself in a diverse environment, then a public college may be a great fit for you.