Private and public colleges appeal to students in different ways


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College of San Mateo is a community college that offers concurrent enrollment for high school students.

Alyssa Huang, Staff Writer

Just as the purpose of buying clothing is to have something to wear, the main purpose of attending college is to receive higher education in a school that can cater to one’s needs.

However, there’s more to every choice than to fulfill its main purpose. Clothing can also be used to make a statement. College can fulfill the desire to sport an alumni bumper sticker post-graduation.

In pursuit of these additional purposes, there are a number of different factors that come into play when selecting colleges, such as location and convenience.

“Even though my sister got into the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, she chose to go to UC Riverside to be closer to home,” said Keilani Isono, a sophomore.

The desire to be near or far from home is one of the biggest components students tend to consider when applying.

“My sister felt that the environment and the people that she would be surrounded by at Brigham would best suit her, we also have a lot of family there which is nice,” said Jaden Cheng, a sophomore, whose sister attends Brigham Young University as a freshman.

At a basic level, another factor that determines where one will attend college is whether it’s public and private, both options coming with their own pros and cons.

One difference between the two is the variety of degrees that each college offers. While public colleges tend to have more course offerings than private colleges do, the latter often offers more specialized classes in the same subjects.

Additionally, private colleges have smaller classes than public colleges do. UC Los Angeles, a public university, has 45,000 of students per year, whereas Stanford University, a private college, only has around 17,000. Smaller class sizes allow for more intimate class experiences with professors and other students, while also impacting the college’s overall social aspect.

Another major difference between the two is the way in which each college is funded. Private colleges like Harvard or Yale are funded privately, whereas public colleges receive funding from the government, just as other public schools do.

For students, this means that tuition for private colleges is typically more expensive than public colleges.

When broken down, attending a public college may seem to be a more favorable option than attending a private college, especially because of the price tag.

Nonetheless, public colleges come with their own social stigma, leaving more students willing to apply to private colleges rather than public ones. Because of its low cost, people are often led to believe that community colleges are unable to provide students with the same level of education from private colleges, although that is not necessarily the case.

But regardless of cost, stigma, or other factors, it remains the student’s choice to select a college that will, in the words of the San Mateo County College District, “enable students to develop their minds and their skills, engage their spirits, broaden their understanding of social responsibilities, increase their cultural awareness and realize their individual potential.”