7 Tell-Tale Signs You Go to a Private University

7 Tell-Tale Signs You Go to a Private University

What do Harvard, Stanford, and NYU have in common?

You guessed it: all three are private universities. These schools don’t accept money from their respective states – they are funded exclusively by students and donors.

Private colleges are known for their selectivity and academic rigor, but there are some drawbacks: tuition can be through the roof, and athletics tend to be less than stellar. For serious learners, though, a private school is a great choice.

Students at private colleges live a distinctly different college experience than those at public universities – in the classroom and out – with opportunities and lifestyles that simply don’t exist at state universities.

1. You can’t hide in the back of the classroom.

Class sizes are remarkably small at private universities. Rather than boring, lengthy lectures, classes are known for open discussions and hands-on learning.

Contrary to what they told you in high school, the professors at most private schools actually care about your education, and they are drawn to help their students succeed. They will hold you accountable for your assignments and expect you to participate in class – but if you are serious about your education, this is the motivation you need to reach your fullest potential.

2. You can’t walk from your dorm room to the dining hall without seeing at least thirty friends and four former professors.

Because you go to such a small school, it is not uncommon to see the same people day after day. If you like a tight-knit community that feels like a family, a private school is  the perfect learning environment.

3. Your professors know your name, nickname, major, student ID number, favorite band, and blood type.

(Okay, maybe not really.) But the faculty does know you really well, probably because you’ve had them for more than just one class throughout your college career. This is typical at small, private schools. Professors double as advisors, mentors, and friends – a great bonus when you need some extra credit to bump you up to an A.

4. You know the ins and outs of college finances.

Almost no one really pays full tuition price at most private colleges, thanks to merit scholarships given out by the schools, and the students’ impeccable abilities to find local and online scholarships and grants, either by using websites like us, or by searching the web and community bulletin boards. Private school students are also great go-to people for student loan advice – many have to work with these as well.

All of this is necessary to afford the high price of many private schools, but the exceptional academia alone is worth the price tag to many students.

5. Your sports teams don’t make national news, but you support them anyway.

Public universities are known for their sports teams, while private schools are generally more focused on academics. There are still star student-athletes and winning sports teams. Though they aren’t like the college games you see on TV, the teams still need spirit in the stands. Don’t be afraid to paint school colors on your face for the big game!

6. You chose your school because of a specific major or program.

It’s uncommon for private colleges to have hundreds of majors to choose from. It is more likely that there are a few specialized and successful areas of concentration. You probably heard about your school because of these stand-out programs, and they greatly influenced your decision to attend.

7. You’re on a first name basis with your college’s administration – in a good way.

They’re part of the community at your small, private school, often getting involved with student life and even welcoming students into their homes. You are often invited to attend lunchtime with the Dean or a dinner party with the President. Take advantage of these excellent windows for communication and let your school officials know what’s working for students, and what’s not.

Private universities may not have the party atmosphere that some students are looking for, but if your goal is a close-knit community and rigorous academics, the cost may be worth the reward!

Related: 5 Signs You're at the Right School



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