Public universities offer a variety of extracurricular and academic options and are generally less costly than private colleges. However, private colleges don’t usually suffer from overcrowding like public universities and they allow for more interaction with professors. Fortunately, public universities offer some alternatives that provide the benefits of a private college without the cost.
Branch Campuses – Large public universities may have branch campuses to offset overcrowding on main campuses and to attract non-traditional students. I’ve attended classes at a branch campus of my university and preferred it to the main campus for several reasons: smaller classes, newer facilities and more mature students. The downside is that they may not offer as many courses as the main campus.
Honors Colleges – Most larger universities have established honors colleges which offer smaller classes and more interaction with professors. Honors colleges may have their own curricula and/or extra required projects. Admittance is usually based on ACT/SAT scores, high school GPA, and extracurricular activities.
Community Colleges – You may be able to avoid overcrowded classes by taking them at a community college. Certain courses at large universities tend to be very large, but they may be smaller at a junior college. Just be sure they will transfer to your university.
Summer/Intersession Courses – Summer and intersession classes tend to be smaller and campuses will be less crowded. Taking summer or intersession classes can also help lighten your course load in the regular semester.
Before you pay $30,000+ for the private college experience, look into these options at public colleges. You’ll get the benefits of both a large university and a smaller college without the huge tuition bill.