When searching for the perfect college, one college decision factor to make is whether to attend a private college or a public university. While most private colleges have more prestige and are more recognized, public colleges can be more fitting if you have a budget for your tuition. There are obviously many pros and cons to weigh when making this decision, so it's best to sit down and evaluate your options before committing to a school.

Benefits of Attending a Private College

  • Prestige: Most private colleges are nationally recognized for academic excellence simply by the mention of their name. When you think of Duke or Notre Dame, you think of excellent schools with renowned degree programs. The academic standards at private colleges are higher, therefore making admission more competitive.

  • Smaller Class Sizes: Anyone who attends a public university can attest to sitting in a class with 200 or more students at a time, where the professor identifies you by your student ID number and not your name. However, at a private college the student to professor ratio is (usually) a lot smaller, giving you a chance for more personalized instruction from your professors.

  • Experienced Professors: Since private colleges and universities are known for their highly competitive learning environment, you can be sure that the professors teaching the classes are knowledgeable and experienced. There are very few adjunct professors and teaching assistants. Rest assured, if you are attending a private college, you are receiving a top-notch education, as these institutions pay top dollar for the top professors.

Disadvantages of Attending a Private College

  • Cost: The biggest disadvantage of attending a private university is the cost. The cost of tuition at a private university can run you two to three times the cost of a public university. Keep in mind that federal student loans and grants only cover so much, so unless you have scholarships to fill in the gap, you will still be left with a pretty big tuition bill each semester. If you have a really good GPA and excellent SAT/ACT scores, you may be able to score scholarship money as well as grants and loans to help cover the cost of tuition.

    * It should also be noted that many private colleges provide excellent financial aid packages that greatly reduce the cost of attendance. Use net price calculators posted on the school's website to get a better idea of your out-of-pocket costs.

  • Credits may not transfer: If you attended a community college first or other public college, you should be aware that your credits for classes already completed may not transfer into a private university. Most private universities prefer that you complete their English 101 class as opposed to the one at the local community college. Public universities usually have transfer agreements in place with other colleges where all of your credits will transfer with ease to a public university. If you have your heart set on transferring to a private university, you may be able to get your completed credits transferred in as free electives.

Private colleges can be appealing to many students, however it is extremely important that you weigh the advantages and disadvantages before applying to the college of your choice. Since tuition is usually high at private schools, it is best if you apply armed with a very high GPA so you will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other funding to assist with the tuition bill. Although the tuition price tag can scare some students away, you have to remember that you get what you pay for, which is a top-rated education at a highly respected school.