The other day, I was thinking about my past experiences with this funny thing we call education. I examined what college is supposed to be, the factors that make for a great education, and the “awesome” experience of college life. Through my careful examinations, I realized a few things I had overlooked when I was choosing where I would attend. You know that age old wish, “if I knew then what I know now…”
To give you a little background on where I am coming from as I write this, I come from a private school background. I attended a top notch private high school so I got lucky with my pick of various high ranking universities and schools. But, even after having attained this excellent private school secondary education, I decided to forego the Ivy Leagues for a local public university.
Having experienced both private and public school education, I found myself thriving in the private. Why? Well, I have put together a list of nine reason why I consider a private education more complete and beneficial to the everyday student.
6) Smaller classes: Why does this matter? It’s quite simple: smaller classes means more focused training. As a former teacher in a small classroom setting, I can tell you that I was able to truly asses each of my students’ strengths, and weaknesses and teach them accordingly. And because of that, I witnessed significant improvement among the students I had throughout the year. I’m certain a professor with 300 students would be unable to accomplish this.
5) Closer relationships with professors: The smaller class sizes lead us to this. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a counselor during my collegiate years was to forge relationships with my professors. There are many advantages to having this. First, it ensures that the professor will be more inclined to offer you guidance and assistance in the class. Second, it allows you to create contacts in the field you are looking to get in to. You never know how well connected this professor is. Some professors own their own companies, or may be able to help you land the job you want when you graduate. Third, they will always be more willing to write excellent letters of recommendation for the students they have a relationship with. Finally, there are few better mentors out there for you than someone who has been involved in the field and can properly teach you about it.
4) A finer sense of family and community: Did you ever think this would be on a list like this? Family and community have nothing to do with college, right? Wrong! This world, your country, your state, your city, your town, your neighborhood, your school, your home… these are all communities. The world is made up of various communities. When a community is functioning properly, it can be a glorious thing. In order for that to happen, though, everyone has to play their part and remember a simple rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Honestly, I found it more difficult to accomplish this at the large scale, public university than in the smaller private school. Why? More people means more people looking out for number one. When you have a large group that only thinks about their needs and accomplishing their ends, it makes advancement and success as a group much more difficult. When all are working together to make a better school, neighborhood, city, state, country, and world there is success, as Henry Ford stated, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”. This creates an atmosphere where students help each other in order to achieve the highest level of understanding.
3) Furthermore there is a larger emphasis on student research projects, internships and job connections: When I graduated, I got a diploma and was shown the door. No one helped me put together my resume, no one helped me find internships, I only had one large research project in my field, and despite my solid relationships with various professors, I wasn’t able to get any solid job connections. Why? I was just one of a very large pool of students asking for job connections in a very specialized field with little to no jobs available.
2) Better advising: This is key to the success of a program, the length of time spent in college, and the maximizing of one’s education. While every university and college offers advising, it is not quite the same. First of all, to even get an appointment with an advisor at the larger schools is time consuming, difficult. In a public university with 45,000 other students, you will be hard pressed to get a nice sit down session for as long as you need. If you’re lucky, you get twenty minutes with a different advisor each semester. Not so at the private institution. In a private college, you will be able to sit down and have as long as you need with your advisor. Not only that, but you will most likely have the same rep throughout your collegiate career, which means they will know you, and what you are trying to accomplish with your degree. It makes their job easier, and will benefit you more than you know.
1) More seminar and discussion classes: This is an interesting one as well. I can’t say that my local university didn’t have a myriad of seminars, but I can say that I rarely ever heard about the ones that they did have. While we did often have discussion sessions in class, they were rarely beneficial. Solid, concise, and civilized discussions are a great way to gain new perspectives on material you have been attempting to wrap your head around for days, weeks, or even months. Seminars also provide this with the added twist of the “expert opinion”…
Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoyed my public education at the local university but I want to point out some of the benefits to a private education that may have been overlooked by readers. For those who need a more hands on, personalized education, a private college is the way to go.