There are thousands of great colleges for students to choose from in the United States. There are big schools and small schools, public and private, liberal arts and STEM-focused, and so many other factors that distinguish colleges from one another. With a plethora of options, how should a student decide what type of college is right for them?

 

In this post, we’ll outline the key factors to take into consideration when deciding what type of college is the best fit for you. We’ll also explain what kind of college experience you’d probably get based on each college characteristic. To start figuring out what schools are best for you, read on.

 

 

Public Vs. Private

This is a distinction that has to do with funding and regulation more than anything else. You’d be surprised what a large impact school funding has on the type of college experience you get. Here’s what you can expect from public and private universities.

 

Public 

Usually funded by the state government, public universities tend to be larger institutions with a very diverse student body. If it’s a state school, you’ll find that the university is mandated to have a certain ratio of in-state: out-of-state students, usually favoring the in-state side just a little bit.

 

These colleges are generally cheaper to attend, especially if you’re an in-state student. However, they are not usually as well-funded as private colleges. As a result, you may find that resources are sometimes spread a little too thin and there aren’t as many perks for students as there are in private institutions.

 

Private 

If you attend a private college, you’re going to be paying a lot of money in tuition regardless of whether you are an in-state student or an out-of-state student.

 

However, you will find that most private colleges are new or renovated, clean, and full of helpful resources for their students, which isn’t always the case at public colleges. Private universities tend to have a smaller student body than public colleges, so you’ll get more attention and resources from your professors and other university administrators.

 

 

In-State vs. Out-of-State

Every state has different colleges and universities within it, so it’s impossible to generalize about the quality of education any student would get if they went to an in-state university versus an out-of-state university. However, there are a few common things you’ll find across the board:

 

In-State 

If you go to college in the state of your permanent residence, you’re going to be spending way less money on tuition, sometimes $15,000+ less a semester. You’ll also probably be going to college with some of your classmates from your hometown, so you’ll be able to walk into college with an already-established friend group.

 

You’ll also be close enough to home to where you could go home and visit every once in a while when you feel homesick or simply want to do your laundry.

 

Out-of-State 

Being an out-of-state student will require a lot of extra money in tuition, but it’s an exciting adventure. When you go to college out-of-state, odds are that you’re walking into a completely new city full of people who don’t know you and who you’ve never met before.

 

You essentially get to start over in a new place, make all new friends, and learn about a way of life that you had never experienced before. This can be slightly terrifying at first, but it’s also extremely humbling. You will mature so fast, learn how to take care of yourself, and be more confident in yourself than you could ever possibly imagine.

Want to join thousands of parents and students receiving exclusive admissions information? Sign up to join our email list. It's free, and we'll only send you the best information!

Build a Profile That Will Impress Admissions Officers

Our mentorship program helps students in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade discover their passions, build their resumes, and get guidance throughout high school.

Large Vs. Small

When we talk about large vs. small, we’re talking about the size of the student population, not the size of the campus itself. The size of the undergraduate population at the university makes a huge difference in the type of college experience you get. Here is what you can expect with each population size:

 

Large 

When you attend a large university, you’re walking into a college with tens of thousands of students. This is very exciting because you will be exposed to a diverse array of people that you can befriend and learn so much from.

 

Being amidst so many new and different faces can seem quite overwhelming at first, but once you get over the initial shock and find a group of friends that you belong with, you’ll start to realize how cool it is. You’ll also find that larger universities tend to have a wider array of extracurriculars and more resources than a smaller university.

 

Small 

When you’re at a small university, you get much more individualized attention than you would at a larger college. The student: faculty ratio is significantly less, so you’ll get more one-on-one time with your professors, teacher’s assistants, and other campus resources like the career center, athletic facilities, and libraries.

 

You’ll also find that you know way more people on campus and that a larger part of the campus will know you. It’s very hard to feel invisible at a smaller university because the campus community is much more tight-knit.

 

 

Urban vs. Rural

A college’s proximity to the nearest metropolitan city is a huge factor in regards to your college experience. Here is what you can expect at urban universities versus rural universities:

 

Urban 

If your college is located near a big city, or even in the middle of a big city, you’ll probably find that the campus is not very cohesive. The various campus buildings will probably be sprawled out through the city, and you’ll have to cross busy city streets to get from place to place.

 

However, you will have greater access to public transportation, restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and off-campus housing. Thus, in an urban setting, you don’t have to spend all of your time on campus. You can go out, explore, and have fun when you’re not studying.

 

Rural 

If your college is located in what seems like the middle of nowhere, you are about to spend a lot of time on campus and with your fellow students. Without a lot of places outside of campus to go explore, you’ll find that most students hang out on campus.

 

However, the campus will usually have some fun things to do as a result. You’ll also find that rural campuses are more spread out and scenic as there is more land available. You’ll also find that it is much cheaper to live around rural campuses since land prices are not impacted by high demand like they are in the big cities.

 

Also, you may find it difficult to find a lot of shops, restaurants, and grocery stores that are walking distance from campus, and the public transportation is probably not as great.

 

 

For More Information

Need some more guidance on choosing colleges? Check out these previous blog posts:

 

Ask Yourself These 6 Questions Before Deciding On a College

Tips For Choosing the Best Fit College

7 Tips To Help You Escape Going To The Wrong College

What Does It Mean To “Fit” With A College?

 

Feeling like you need a little boost in high school? Check out CollegeVine’s Near Peer Mentorship Program, where you will be matched with a successful college student who is on the same path you are when it comes to your academic, career, and college goals. Your mentor will meet with you and your parents to provide helpful advice on all topics from college admissions to career goals, and they’ll make sure that you are poised to succeed throughout high school.

Want more tips on improving your academic profile?

We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.




2017201820192020202120222023Other

Can't see the form above? Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Sadhvi Mathur

Sadhvi Mathur

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Sadhvi is a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, double majoring in Business Administration and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!
Sadhvi Mathur