Are you in the process of choosing a college? Aren’t sure what the difference is between state schools and private liberal arts colleges?
It’s important to recognize the fact that not all colleges provide the same atmosphere, resources and educational opportunities. Of course, all of these factors vary from college to college, but there are some broad generalizations that can safely be made about state colleges and private liberal arts colleges that may help you narrow down your search.
The following are summaries of state schools and private liberal arts colleges, posed as questions, each designed to help you make a decision.
Are you looking for a college with a visible sports team and plenty of school spirit, or are you more interested in the academic side of the college experience?
State schools are famous for their sports teams, school spirit and big campus enthusiasm. Private liberal arts colleges are usually focused on academics and the arts, so the atmosphere and focus is more subdued and refined.
Are you looking for independence, or are you looking for a safe, defined college experience?
State colleges offer more independence, especially since most state colleges offer both on-campus and off-campus housing. They are also bigger and may be built into the infrastructure of a city, meaning you may have one class on one side of campus and another class across the city. They are also bigger classroom-wise, meaning you’ll be on your own when developing study groups or making friends. Some state colleges and universities are bigger than towns, numbering in the tens of thousands of students.
Liberal arts colleges are smaller and are usually contained to privately owned land that is definitively and exclusively that private college and nothing else. This means you will be able to stay on campus for everything. Your classes will be smaller, so you’ll have pre-established study groups, and you’ll probably be in class with a lot of the same people over and over again. Because of this, liberal arts colleges feel safer and more defined, where as students at State colleges often feel a little lost at first. You may even be able to find a liberal arts college that has a student body of about 1,500 students, or even smaller. These types of colleges offer intimate settings and plenty of security.
Do you already know what you want to become (like an engineer or chemist,) or are you unsure what you want to do?
If you want to pursue a career in the sciences or have a specific career in mind, you may want to check into some of the state school programs, many of which are great for freshmen who know what they want to do. You’ll find out that many liberal arts colleges don’t have engineering programs, but that state schools invariably do.
If you’re going into college undecided, you may want to pursue a general liberal arts degree, which will be foundational for both advanced degrees and multiple careers. Liberal arts colleges can help you determine what your strengths are, or, if you still can’t decide, will prepare you for the working world in general.
How to Choose a College
You’ll want to consider several other factors as well, but this will get you started down the path of choosing the right college for you. Be sure to visit schools in person before you submit applications so you will know for sure if the school fits your needs and personality.