What College Is Right for Me?

By Katrina Fadrilan
11/15/2017
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What’s the difference between public vs private college? Should you attend a large university or small liberal arts college? Should you live on a rural or urban campus?

These are some of the questions that plague students during their college search. Lucky for you, this guide will help you answer them.

1. Large vs. Small

Smaller universities may have fewer than 1,000 students, while the largest universities can have more than 35,000. Here’s how to decide which is best for you.

Large

Pros

  • If you like a large community where you’re constantly meeting new people, you will thrive at a big college.
  • If you prefer to sit back and listen to the teacher lecture, then the large class lectures will be perfect for you.

Cons

  • With more people, it may be more difficult to find a community for you.
  • If you like being at a school where you know everyone, a big university is probably not for you.

Small

Pros

  • With fewer people to choose from, it will be easier to find friends.
  • If you embrace a tight-knit community, you should choose a small college.
  • Small class sizes provide one-on-one attention and the opportunity to be heard.

Downsides

  • It may feel like high school where everyone knows everyone.
  • If you enjoy constantly meeting new people, small colleges are not for you.

2. Public vs. Private

Public universities tend to be larger and less expensive, while private schools are typically smaller, with a bigger price tag. Let’s take a look at some more differences.

Public

Pros

  • It’s cheaper, especially for students who live in-state.
  • More state grants for college students are available at a public or state college.
  • A public school is likely to be larger, which is a plus if you like to blend into a crowd.

Cons

  • If you don’t want a big college, then going to a public university is not the best option for you.
  • It can be more difficult to get into certain classes at a big, public school.

Private

Pros

  • If you prefer smaller class sizes, private universities are better suited for you.
  • It is typically much easier to register for courses you want and fulfill the requirements to graduate.

Cons

  • Private schools are likely to be more expensive.
  • If you prefer a big campus with lots of people, you may feel trapped in a smaller private school.

Liberal arts college

If you’re considering liberal arts colleges—which are all private—here’s what you should know.

Pros

  • Liberal arts colleges generally require their students to have a well-rounded education. For example, let’s say that you are studying for a history major. You are not only required to take history courses but also classes in math, science, and literature. So if you enjoy learning about subjects outside your major, a liberal arts college is perfect.
  • Liberal arts colleges are known for their very small class sizes. Be prepared to be best friends with your professor and the several other people in the class.

Cons

  • If you really just want to focus on your major and not be required to take another basic math or English class ever again, the added curriculum may be a pain for you.

3. Rural vs. Urban

Some of the best colleges in the US are located in the suburbs or in a college town. However, to begin narrowing down the environment you want to live in, you need to understand the pros and cons of both urban and rural areas.

Rural

Pros

  • It will be much quieter, so you won’t have to deal with city noise while you study or take exams.
  • Due to the isolated environment, you will become closer and more involved with your school community.

Cons

  • If you like to always have lots of things to do, it may get boring for you.
  • It will be more competitive to find jobs or internships in area small community.

Urban

Pros

  • There is always something fun to do if you go to college in the city.
  • There is more access to a variety of internships and jobs for during the school year and the summer.

Cons

  • It’s pretty much always going to be loud.
  • You may find yourself constantly distracted by all the action when you really need to study.

Although deciding on a college is overwhelming, just by reading this article you are closer to finding the best school for you. Regardless of which university you choose, always remember that college is what you make of it. So make it your home.

About the author

Katrina is currently a junior studying Global Poverty and Creative Writing at UC Berkeley. A native San Franciscan, she loves exploring cities, binge-watching all films, and, of course, writing.

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