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Private colleges and universities are independent of any government funds. These schools are privately owned and operated. They also have the right to make their own rules and even exempt certain students being accepted, such as religious colleges, all women’s colleges or all men’s colleges. However, public colleges and universities receive public funding, so therefore, are not allowed to exempt any student from applying or being accepted. Private colleges and universities usually have a smaller campus, which in turn leads to smaller class sizes. On the other hand, at a public college or university, the campus is usually bigger, and class sizes tend to be large. For example, a Psychology 101 course at a private university could max out at 40-50 people. At a public university, the same Psychology 101 course could max out at 400 people. With that being said, the smaller the campus, the smaller the departments are for your major of study. At a public university, they have larger departments and usually attract world renowned professors and professionals in their field of study.

Tuition (cost of attendance) is also a difference between private colleges and universities and public colleges and universities. The cost of attendance at a private college or university is generally higher than that of a public college or university. Both options do, however, offer financial aid packages and scholarships and grants.

When researching possible colleges and universities to attend, students should think about what kind of environment they would benefit from the most, and then discuss those options with your college counselor. Students should apply to at least 2 “shoo-in” colleges or universities (schools that you feel you have a 90%-100% chance of being accepted), at least 4 “probable” colleges or universities (schools that you feel you have a 75% chance of being accepted), and at least 2 “reach” colleges or universities (schools that you feel you have a 50% or less chance of being accepted.) There is no right or wrong answer on how many colleges and universities you apply to, but try to avoid sending too many, especially when they take your time, energy and money.