Private colleges can be more expensive than public universities, and can have a more limited curriculum than the biggest government-funded schools. So why choose a private college, particularly a small one, over a state-run university?
Of course, opting for Harvard or Yale makes perfect sense; anyone with a degree and a solid academic record is assured of entrée into the rarefied atmosphere of high finance, government administration, or politics. But what of the smaller colleges tucked away around the country?
Many private colleges are founded based on the particular philosophy, whether educational, social, religious, or otherwise, so students who identify with that philosophy can often find the perfect haven for their college years. Other colleges focus on particular subject matters, and may be the leading colleges in their field. And while the small private colleges can be more expensive than their state-run counterparts, many of them are also heavily endowed, so the possibility of receiving sometimes substantial financial assistance can be high.
Anyone who remembers walking into a college freshman class and seeing an auditorium with more than a hundred students will appreciate this: Smaller colleges can also offer smaller class sizes and more personal attention. McDaniel College, a private school in Maryland, boasts an average class size of 17 students; its actual student to teacher ratio is even better: 12:1, an amazing statistic that is evidence of opportunities for individualized learning and meaningful mentorship relationships with the teaching staff.
Large public universities certainly offer a quality education and a huge range of educational opportunities. But for an education with a specific focus and for the opportunity to experience a unique college education, private colleges are often a perfect fit.
Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire. She has written numerous articles for local and regional newspapers and for a number of Internet websites, including Tips and Topics. She expresses her opinions periodically on her blog, http://beyondagendas.blogspot.com .