One of the decisions you will have to make as you narrow down your college search is whether you will attend a public or a private school. Many families rule out private schools before they begin their research. I believe this is a mistake. There are many benefits to going to a private school.
The major hurdle for most prospective students looking at where to go to college is the sticker price. Private schools carry with them a hefty price tag. We will look more at that in a bit.
First we will take a look at the enrollment numbers and then move on from there.
Colleges and universities are far different in makeup. There are 629 public 4 year institutions with an enrollment of 6,837,605. There are 1,845 private institutions with an enrollment of 4,161,815. The make up of these 11 million students is 62.2% public and 37.8% private. This is far different from the makeup of public high schools across the country.
The first reason you should keep an open mind about private schools are the fact they make up almost 38% of all college students.
Classroom size is a huge distinctive for private schools. In a private school, most classes will be small enough for you to know your professors. Campus sizes are usually a lot more intimate. The average private school has 2,255 students, while the average state school has 10,870.
Private schools have lower class sizes than most public schools. Statistics for class size are difficult to find, but I found one article about class size that is eye opening. At the University of Colorado (in 2007) there were 33 classes with over 400 students and three classes topped 1,200 students. Ginormous a classes are the norm at public schools.
At many private schools, you will find the biggest classes top out at around 50-80 students. Once you get into your major classes, many classes have 10-20 students per class. The difference in personal attention you can get at private schools is enormous. This in fact is one of the major selling points of private colleges.
Some of my public school friends will probably disagree with me and are actually encouraged to do so in the comment section, but private schools are often more rigorous academically than state schools. This is a blanket statement and not true of all schools or departments within each school, but I believe it is a fair assessment of the educational opportunities as a whole.
Now we get back to the tuition price. The annual sticker price for colleges and universities including tuition, fees, room and board is approximately $15,000 whereas the sticker price for private institutions is $39,000. Remember, this is not the actual price students are paying, it is the sticker price, before all the scholarships and financial aid. On average you will pay more out of pocket to attend a private institution, but not always. There are many students at private schools whose financial aid packages have allowed them to attend very cheaply or even for free.
I have coached at three different private schools. On average my student athletes were paying more for their education, sometimes considerably more than their state school counterparts. But here is what is overlooked; not all were paying more. Every year I coached I had student athletes on my team that were paying very little or even going to school for free. I have even had a couple athletes who were being cut a check by the college each semester because there scholarships and aid exceeded tuition, room and board.
Don’t rule private schools out before you have a look. And not all private schools are equal for each individual student. There are unexplored opportunities. This is especially true for athletes who have done well in the classroom and on their ACT/SAT scores. Go after both state schools and private schools. It is after all, not the sticker price, but what comes out of your pocket that matters.
If you play football, basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s gymnastics or women’s tennis you really should look at every school. These sports are considered “headcount” sports, which means that most scholarships given are full ride (cover tuition, room and board). Other sports, you are not so lucky. There are few full ride scholarships in the other sports. Even so, don’t dismiss a school based on the athletic scholarship you are or are not offered. All schools offer great financial packages to some students, primarily those who have taken care of business in the classroom.
What the People Want
Based on the numbers, there is a distinct possibility that if you were a public school student, that many of your options for college will be at private schools. Keep all doors open. Do the research. Many doors will remain shut financially, but you may be surprised!
For more of a discussion of the how much you pay, read The Final Price is What Really Matters.
A Guide to Researching Colleges
I have mentioned before that researching colleges is the first thing to do if you want to play the sport you love in college.
I realize that many of you have no idea where to start.
If you have no idea where to start, this will get you moving in the right direction.
Keep in the conversation,