Your choice of college can determine the trajectory of your career and your life. Therefore, the decision should not be made on a whim. Just because your friend raves about her experience at a big university doesn’t mean you’ll love it, too. Consider your personality, career goals, and finances before deciding on they type of college to attend.
Private Liberal Arts College
- Advantages: Private liberal arts colleges have a more intimate feel, and may suit students who want smaller class sizes. Also, professors typically don’t have as much research pressures, meaning more classes taught by actual professors (rather than graduate students) and better quality teaching.
- Disadvantages: Private colleges can be very expensive, with tuition often topping $50,000 per year. Fortunately, there are financial aid options available for most students. Make an appointment with a financial aid officer to explore all of your options. Another disadvantage of private liberal arts colleges is the availability of majors and concentrations. If you want to choose a more technical major (engineering, nursing, business, etc.) or less common major, it may not be available.
- Advantages: Public universities have more major and concentration choices, in addition to more classes overall. And they often have more research opportunities for undergraduate students. If you’re considering a pre-professional program, a large public university might be best for you. Public universities are also less costly than private colleges, and may be more cost effective depending on your choice of major.
- Disadvantages: Because professors at public universities are more focused on research, classes are often taught by teaching assistants rather than professors themselves. Class sizes can also be very big, meaning less opportunity to interact with instructors.
- Advantages: There are many benefits of community colleges. They have many of the advantages of small colleges, including smaller class sizes and a focus on teaching. And unlike private colleges, they are more reasonably priced. They also have practical two-year degree options that lead to great job opportunities upon graduation without the massive debt.
- Disadvantages: Community colleges don’t offer upper-level coursework. So if you’re aiming for a four-year degree, you’ll have to transfer to a university. It’s also important to insure the courses you take at community college will be accepted by your university.
- Advantages: Online colleges allow working adults to obtain their degrees without having to commute to campus or take a break from their jobs. Classes tend to be more flexible, allowing students to work when they have the chance.
- Disadvantages: Taking classes online requires a great deal of self-motivation. You’ll have to make time to learn material on your own and it may prove difficult without a professor helping to explain more complex concepts. You’ll also miss out on face-to-face interactions with instructors and classmates, which is a big part of the college experience.
For more resources to help you choose the right college, read The Best 378 Colleges, 2014 Edition (College Admissions Guides) and The Complete Book of Colleges, 2014 Edition (College Admissions Guides)