Private vs. public colleges is an age-old debate. State colleges may be different from private colleges in several aspects but the fact is neither one of them is necessarily better or worse than the other. The right choice for you will depend on your unique circumstances and what you are looking for. Understanding the pros and cons of attending a state university can help you decide whether or not this is the right choice for you.
What is a State College or University?
A state college is part of a state university system. These are public schools that are supported by the state, and every state has at least one system. One in New York is the “State University of New York System,” or SUNY, which has over 60 institutions. Florida has the State University System of Florida, also known as SUSF or SUS, which has 12 public universities, and the Florida College System (28 community colleges and state colleges).
Pros of Attending a State College
There are plenty of beneifts public universities and state colleges can offer a student, but remember: every college (including state schools) is different. These are not hard and fast rules, but rather tend to be the norm when it comes to state colleges. It’s important to look at each college you’re interested in individually, rather than lumping it into a catch-all.
But overall, here are some of the common benefits of attending a state college:
The lower tuition fees are one of the most compelling benefits of attending state schools. They receive almost 90% of the funding from the state. That allows them to offer high-quality facilities at a much lower cost of tuition.
Larger Student Body
State schools tend to have a larger student body, mainly because of their lower tuition fees. If you like the idea of being a part of larger classes and campus, you’ll enjoy studying in a state university. Keep in mind though that not every state college will fit this expectation – some are actually on the small side!
More Diverse Academic Opportunities
To meet the demands of this larger student body, state colleges tend to offer a more diverse range of majors for students to choose from. You will get the opportunity to pursue majors that may not be available in most private schools. This is a distinct advantage for anyone who is looking to enroll in some not so common courses.
Bustling College Life
State colleges do not just attract a large number of students – they attract diversity. The students that attend these institutions hail from different ethnicities, backgrounds, social, and financial strata. This allows individuals of all kinds to blend in and find their niche in the social landscape. In addition, state schools also offer a wider variety of extracurricular activities, giving students even more opportunities to socialize.
The diverse demographic is also among the major reasons for a vibrant campus culture which retains its flavor over the years and matures into something unique for each school.
More On-Campus Employment Opportunities
Working while studying can be challenging but if you can manage it, it is a great way to earn extra money. If you decide to work while pursuing a degree, getting a job on campus can be a huge relief as that means you don’t have to spend another hour or so just traveling to and from your place of work. They may also offer more opportunities for work-study programs.
Could Be Easier to Be Accepted if You’re an In-State Student
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it can be much easier to get into some state schools than others. This is especially the case for in-state students. University of Florida, for example, has about a 30% acceptance rate for all applicants. However, this number is higher for in-state students and much lower for out-of-state applicants. 30% is just the middle ground between the two!
Cons of Attending a State College
However, there are downsides to attending a state university, too. And, as with the benefits, these are not the case with every college.
Larger School Size
While the larger school size has its benefits, it also has its downsides! It may be a pro for one student, but a con for the next, so we do think it deserves to be in both columns.
It’s easy for an introvert to feel intimidated or just plain lost in such a large crowd. State schools can have higher student-to-faculty ratios, and some courses may be held in large lecture halls. As a result, it can also be more difficult to stand out in classes.
Not every class and major will have this environment. Even larger schools will have more intimate classes, but if you think you might be intimidated by large classes and a large school size, you’ll want to do further research into what to expect. Remember: this isn’t a rule! Some state schools will have smaller student bodies.
With a larger student body to handle, the administrative staff is usually overworked. Several times, the hierarchy or the responsibility of each department or individual is not clearly known or understood. Simple things like rectifying an error in a transcript can have you running from one department to another as getting in touch with the person who has the authority to reverse any decision is usually never as straightforward as you would like.
While it is true that you can often find the best teachers in state schools, they are often not as accessible. The larger class sizes mean you can expect less one-on-one face time with your professor. They, like the administrative body, simply have too much to do.
Even though class sizes are larger, there is a very high demand for several courses which requires students to be diligent while registering for them. It can be difficult to get enrolled in the courses you want (or need) to take up for a particular semester.
Being unable to register for a critical course can set you back significantly. It could even force you to extend college for another semester. Therefore, if you’re attending a state university, it’s highly recommended that you register for classes as soon as they become available to you.
Is A State School For You?
Deciding on a school, whether it’s part of a state university system or not, takes some consideration. You should be reviewing these pros and cons of state college, but also coming up with your own pros and cons for schools on your list. Thinking about your wants and needs is essential when making a decision.
If you want to explore state colleges and other schools a bit more, we recommend using our free College Match tool to uncover information about each university, your chances of being accepted, and what you can expect on campus!