As someone who attended a fairly prestigious private institute that had a very strong, rigorous curriculum and professors, who provided a very nurturing and supportive environment, it is tempting to assume all private colleges and universities are better than public schools. On the other hand, at the very least, my perspective is skewed toward believing the majority of private colleges are superior to public colleges. In advising parents, who are searching for schools to send their perspective college student off to, it is important to look at why private colleges may be better than public schools while it is also important to find reasons why a particular school may be lacking.
Although private schools are generally more expensive than public schools, they provide enough financial aid for those who need it and those who have earned it, so they can be as affordable as a public school. As cost differences can be minimal between public and private schools, the quality of the education and the preferences of the student need to be measured. As public schools generally receive a large portion of their funds from public sources, such as state governments, their professors tend to be paid better than some smaller private schools while they may be allowed to enjoy a lack of accountability. Professors from most schools are tenured, often after a trial period, so finding a complacent or neglectful professor can be a common occurrence for students.
On the other hand, because private schools require voluntary funding from alumni and outside sources, professors share a responsibility in retaining students and acquiring alumni donations. In fact, many private schools were started by professors and because they want to be in an atmosphere that focuses on teaching, better professors, who are not focused on money or research, are attracted to certain private schools; whereas, professors who focus on money or research opportunities are attracted to public and private schools that have larger resources.
Above all, students must assess the quality of their potential professors along with the attitudes of a school’s administration by getting inside views from students willing to provide honest assessments. Check the internet as many students write on the attitudes and qualities of their professors. In addition, class size and location along with reputation in the potential student’s areas of interest may be more appropriate categories for perspective students to look at. Lastly, those who want to belong to a community may want a private school as its need for financial support from the student body brings students together while those simply looking for a place to learn may be perfectly content at a public school.