Public schools will traditionally have stricter guidelines on financial aid, have many more day students, less professors & more teaching assistants. You could wind up being lost in the shuffle. In FL as in many other states, it could take you 5 or more years to graduate.
There’s also less flexibility in course structure.
Typically, besides obviously being on a smaller scale, liberal arts colleges are more dedicated to educating undergraduates. The traditional liberal arts colleges usually do not include professional or technical majors such as business or engineering.
The difference between large and small colleges comes down to numbers. Whether it is the size of the lecture halls, classes, number of professors vs. TAs you have contact with, opportunities to work in research/labs/internships as an undergrad. Sports and the variety of extracurricular activities will generally be more predominant at large public schools. At a university there is a greater emphasis on a specific major rather than just a liberal arts education. I always point out that you can make a BIG place smaller (i.e. Honors College), but you can’t always make a small place feel larger.
The first main difference is the cost. If you are attending a large, state school, chances are your cost for tuition and room and board will be significantly lower than if you were attending a small liberal arts school. The reasoning is simple, large public universities get financial support not only from alumni, students and commercial partners, but from the government as well. Small liberal arts colleges must rely heavily on alumni donations and student tuition and fee money to run their school, thus increasing the need for tuition to be higher.
The main difference is cost and access to resources. Large public universities, especially for in-state students, are much more affordable. They come with risks during these tough economic times—larger class sizes, limited classes, overwhelmed professors and campus workers, and tuition increases each year. At larger public universities, students must be independent. They need to find communities right away and establish connections as many kids live off campus. I recommend joining a frat or major activity right away. At small liberal arts colleges, the campuses make kids feel at home with smaller class sizes, dorms that kids live in for 2-4 years, and all kinds of resources. Professors at small liberal arts colleges focus even more on undergraduates.
Large public universities are likely to have more opportunities for you in terms of social life, extracurriculars, and classes. More people means more potential friends, more clubs to join, and probably more classes to take.
There are best differences between large and public universities and small liberal arts colleges that students should definitely research and be aware of before they dive into the college admissions application process. Small liberal arts colleges will often give students practically 100% access to their professor. This becomes an invaluable resource for students for the future because (1) they’ve learn how to interact with accomplish professionals within their field (2) they have an excellent resource to seek advice on their future careers and goals as well as basic assignments and how to best perform at the level of a scholar and (3) the classes are smaller and often a professor will know students by name. Anyone who does not want to be anonymous and who appreciates that essentially they are spending a significant amount of money to attend to college most likely will highly value the accessibility of professors and the communication that goes on within the classroom (because they have you as student) and the opportunity to learn from other people experiences. At large public university (1) students will be more a face in the crowd, (2) have the opportunity to easily escape from the oversight of what may seem to them like nosy professors and (3) never feel an obligation to purge any kind of relationship with their professor. For some students this type of college experience works very well because they can interact with their TA only and not the subject to the judgement of professors. In addition, they would have access to more resources in general although that is not necessarily true. Any student who attends a large university at some point will run in to a challenge that in tails a lot of bureaucracy or red tape and feel as though their voice is not being heard. At small liberal arts colleges, student rarely feels ignored or undervalued as a member of the community.
Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.
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