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The Pros & Cons Of State Universities

State universities, unlike their private counterparts, are funded by the public. Nearly 90 percent of their funding is from the state. Since the health of the university is contingent upon state support, such colleges are strictly run according to state regulations. Most of the coursework is fairly standardized among state universities, especially those within the same state. Public universities promote collaborative learning within the classroom less than they do independent studies. Thus, the information given in the classroom feels more like the outline of a subject rather than the subject itself. No academic coddling here. If you decide on the state school, challenge yourself whenever possible, set your own goals, and establish your own academic background.

Pros

Affordable Tuition, Particularly For In-State Students

The affordability of the public university is one of its most positive aspects; even without any form of assistance, it is no doubt the cheapest path to a diploma.

Dynamic Atmosphere

The campus on the state university is bustling at all hours, offering many social opportunities and a varied selection of extracurricular activities. Whether the university is situated in a college town or in the heart of a big city, you will have a much greater opportunity to meet and develop relationships with many different types of people, due to the dozens of extracurricular events that students can participate in at a large state school. Typically, the student body is incredibly diverse and very large.

On-Campus Employment Opportunities

It's great if you don't need to work while you are in college, but if you do need extra money while earning your degree, the next best thing to avoiding employment altogether is working nearby so you don't have to add "forty-minute commute" to the long list of things getting in the way of studying for finals. Add to this the large library facilities to better assist you with any research you may need to do, and you will be virtually without excuses for not acing your exams.

Loyal Student Body

School spirit and student loyalty are important components of the state university atmosphere, often resulting in well-funded athletic programs. Most students are devoted to supporting and improving their school and their athletic program, attending games and other school events frequently. Many public universities have advanced science or medical research programs; such programs do at times seem to detract from the faculty's attention to student affairs.

Flexibility

Like the community college, the public university is a great place to attend if you plan on working throughout your college career. There are many options that allow students more flexibility both in and out of the classroom.

Knowledgeable Instructors

State universities often attract distinguished scholars as professors and therefore may offer a better overall academic experience for those who feel a college's faculty is what makes the difference between a mere college degree and a quality education.

Challenging Courses

In addition to having a wide variety of majors from which to select, there is also a great disparity between the levels of difficulty in the courses at a state university. For the most part, general courses are what they are, but the pace of higher level courses depends heavily upon the agenda of the instructor. Some instructors try to compensate for standardization by raising the bar themselves — and succeed. The only way to predict what a course will look like is to talk to a student who is familiar with the teaching style of the professor in question.

Cons

Finding Out Information

Size contributes to many of the issues that develop at public universities. Whether the school makes a mistake on your transcript or gives you an undeserved parking citation, it can be difficult to get in touch with the person who can reverse such errors. Allow plenty of time for dealing with administrative hassles.

Availability of Classes

Classes may fill quickly, so you might not be able to get the schedule you want. Most public universities have a number of offerings for each course and class sizes may be very large, meaning the environment may not be as nurturing as a smaller college. Registering for classes quickly should be a priority throughout school, as it can mean the difference between graduating in four years or six.

Accessibility of Professors

Access to professors may be limited, since each of the professors has hundreds of students. Also, some professors may be more focused on conducting research and publishing than teaching. Getting in touch with them when you need assistance after class can be difficult, especially if they are unfamiliar with you. Involve yourself in the classroom as much as possible and this should help you get the attention of the instructor when you encounter a problem.

Students May Get Lost in the Crowd

Particularly if they are introverted or not inclined to join student organizations, students at a larger school run a higher risk of feeling lonely or isolated. There is a much greater risk of this going on for a prolonged period of time at a large school, where classes are large and students number in the tens of thousands.

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Last Reviewed: October 2020