To go to a public school and save money for college; or to spend extra money and get a more individualized education at a liberal arts or private college? You may be thinking this is an appropriate question; especially if you want to go to college in Orange County, where the cost of living is a pretty penny already. Here are some pros and cons of attending a public/private college in the Santa Ana/Orange County area.
Public college pros/cons:
*Save money! In this uncertain economy, every dime counts! On the other hand, since California State schools recently hiked up tuition fees, it’s really not a positive note right now to think about saving money unless you’re a community college.
*Don’t get called on in class that often – classes are bigger. Then again, classes may be so big that a) you never get to know any of your professors and they can’t write you a letter of recommendation because they don’t know who you are; and/or b) you get docked attendance/participation because no one knows you’re even there!! Since many times the traffic on the 22, 5, and 405 can be horrific, you can be late to class and potentially no one will know.
*Potentially bigger impact – bigger parties, more dates, a flurry of activities going on at the same time, more Facebook friends, ‘cooler’ Division I teams, bigger alumni association, more scholarships to choose from potentially – Is bigger always better though?? That is a point for you to consider. For many college students, it is important to be able to legitimately wear a UCLA or Cal State Long Beach sweatshirt (i.e., being from that actual school in order to wear their clothing is a central issue).
*Umavailability. There aren’t too many public colleges in Orange County itself, so your application stack may be fewer than in other areas. The main colleges around here include UCI, CSUF, and CSU Long Beach. Popular community colleges include Santa Ana College, OCC, and Goldenwest
Private college pros/cons:
*Private/speciality colleges are plentiful in the Santa Ana/Orange County areas. The schools that I am most familiar with include Chapman/Brandman, Vanguard, and Academy of Art University. A potential advantage to attending a smaller school is that smaller schools tend to view students as more than just a number, SAT score, or name on a page. They tend to admit students based on interviews and individual consideration rather than meeting a certain quota. Translation: If SATs are not your thing (and it’s not a bad thing – standardized tests do not measure all forms of intelligence!!), try applying to these schools.
*Individualized attention. This means that maybe you’ll be spending more money up front, but in the long term, you are likely guaranteed to pass through college in 4 years or less. In a bigger school, if a class is full and you need it to graduate, you may have to wait until a different semester to retake the class; thereby putting you as ineligible to gradute on time. Living in Santa Ana/Orange County, individualized attention can be a positive characteristic of a smaller, creative school. Who wouldn’t want to walk around Huntington Beach as part of their art project; or film their next video in the state-of-the-art film studio at Chapman University?
*More money. More attention on you as the student to participate in your educational process, but also some “hand-holding” takes place. What is meant by “hand-holding” is that many professors tend to help their students “too much” by letting them slide by on assignments because they know that if they or the administration makes a mistake, the financial institution of the students (most often, the parents) will be contacting the professor or administrator and filing complaints…and then the alumni fund will become smaller. In Orange County/Santa Ana, there is a great variation between social economic statuses. The average household income in Santa Ana is currently variable as well – between $40,000 and $180,000 depending upon the type of position held.
In summary, there can be an infinite list of pros/cons as far as colleges/universities go in the private/public sector. The economy is forcing those who had a one-track dream to consider other possibilities until the economy can stabilize and the age of uncertainty about our financial future is a bit clearer.
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