The Difference Between Private and Public College Visits

What are the differences between private vs public college visits

Flickr user Ed Uthman

As it creeps closer to the application due dates, you may be planning some college visits to make sure you want to apply. This is a great idea and very highly recommended. It gives you an idea of what the town, campus, and students are like. If you’re planning trips to private and public colleges though, you might notice some differences between the tours and visits.

You’ll see a lot more in-state students at public colleges

Public colleges tend to offer incentives for in-state students, such as priority acceptance. Out-of-state students, meanwhile, will usually be asked to pay much more tuition, which deters them from applying to that particular school. So during your college tour or visit, you probably will see a lot of in-state residents, maybe even from your hometown!

At private schools, however, you tend to get more geographic diversity. Location doesn’t tend to be favored in acceptance or tuition. In your tour group, you may meet someone from all over the country or even the other side of the world.

Private schools tend to be smaller

Campuses for private schools tend to be smaller than public schools, but it’s not always the rule. It really depends on the college, but it is definitely a trend. This could result in a much longer tour at the public school than a private college.

This trend also tends to follow the number of people at a college. Smaller campuses lead to fewer students on campus and smaller class sizes. You may not see a lot of students at a private college during your visit. You might want to ask your tour guide about how many undergraduates are attending. Alternatively, research the number when you get home (or even before you go!).

Again, this isn’t a steadfast rule. There are several smaller public schools and several large private ones. You’ll want to do research on class sizes, majors, student to faculty ratios, dorms, and more to get the real picture on your particular list of schools.

Your visit may cover more at a public college

This is also a trend and not a rule, but public college tours usually allow you to see more of the classrooms and even dorms while also showing you other aspects of the campus. Private college tours may stick more to the campus, but not the facilities or classes. However, private colleges (and even public ones) might offer a virtual tour online. You can view things that were left out of the visit.

Before heading out to visit the colleges you’re interested in, make sure to do your research into the tours. Some may require you to register and may decline you if you just show up. You will want to also keep a running list of questions as it gets closer to your visit so you can ask your tour guide if it’s not covered during the walk around. Each tour is different though, so it’s important to know what to expect before you go.

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