Archive for the ‘Admissions Advice’ Category
Private vs. public, junior college vs. four-year university, for-profit vs. nonprofit … this college jargon is enough to make anyone’s head spin! Here’s a rundown of what some of these terms mean to help you with your college search.
What’s the Big Difference Between Public and Private?
In a nutshell: The funding. Public schools get most of their funding from state governments and private colleges receive theirs from private donations and tuition.
Junior colleges (sometimes called community colleges) are government-funded two-year colleges that grant associate’s degrees and certificates. Many students attend these schools for a year or two before heading off to a four-year university to complete their degree.
Which Costs More?
This difference in funding often means the sticker price of a public universities is lower than a private institution. The average cost for undergrad tuition and room and board at a public school was $15,022 at a public school, according to 2012-2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Compare that to $39,173 at private nonprofit colleges.
While costs should play a role in your college decision process, don’t write all private colleges just because the average price is higher. You may receive scholarships or grants that make the cost equal to – or less than – a public university.
Are Private Schools More Challenging?
Not necessarily. You hear about academically tough private schools like Harvard and Yale all the time, but there are plenty of public universities that really make you work for good grades. UCLA, West Point, the University of Michigan, and Virginia Tech are just a few examples.
That being said, keep in mind that private schools often try to keep class sizes small. While some public universities are able to do the same, they sometimes have large lecture classes with several hundred students. This can make it difficult for some people to understand the material, let alone show up every day!
No matter what your academic background is, there’s are both public or private schools that will allow you to thrive. Add a few of each to your college list as you continue your college search.
How Are the Student Bodies Different?
Private colleges often have smaller student bodies, but some are just as large as their public peers – this gives you plenty of chances to meet new people. But one big difference can be the number of in-state students. Most public state schools offer lower tuition to local students, so you may find more people from your area at a public university than a private college.
College admissions counselors read hundreds – sometimes thousands – of personal statements every year. That means yours not only has to be good, it has to stand out and make the person reading it want to get to know you. Here’s how you can make that happen:
Read the Instructions Before You Start
Every college is different. One school may want you to write a statement about your biggest achievement, while another may ask you to read a book and respond to its main themes. Never send the same essay to every school you’re applying to – follow the directions and make sure each statement is relevant to the college you’re sending it to. Nothing will ruin your chances of getting into your dream school faster than proving you can’t read and follow simple instructions.
Make it Unique, but Don’t Mislead
We often think our own lives are boring, but that doesn’t mean you should create a fake scenario for your personal statement. There’s plenty in your own life that’s unique to you, interesting to other people, and doesn’t need to be embellished. Don’t create tales of poverty or illness when you haven’t really experienced those things – it’ll show in your essay.
If you’re really struggling to think of a creative topic, talk to a teacher, friend, or coach and ask them to help you brainstorm. Someone with a different perspective can point out characteristics or situations you’ve handled that are interesting and essay worthy.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Your big brother may be a football star with a 4.0 GPA, but admissions counselors don’t want to hear about your struggle to live up to him. They want to hear about you. Stop comparing and contrasting and start selling your own strengths. Your college admissions essay is not the place to downplay your accomplishments, so shine the spotlight on your achievements.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
You can’t go overboard when you’re proofreading a paper, especially when it’s a piece as important as your personal statement. Sure, one comma splice probably won’t kill your chances of getting into your top-choice school, but a serious spelling error or few missing words just might. After you’ve reread the essay, give it to at least two other people to make sure they catch any errors you miss. Your parents, guidance counselor, people at your school’s tutoring center, or friends will all be happy to help out.
Good luck! And while you’re writing your essay, don’t forget the most important tip of all: Be yourself!
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It’s not just top athletes and science geniuses who are recruited by colleges. In fact, you’re probably being courted by a few schools at the moment – how do you find out which ones are interested in students like you?
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