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Choosing between a public college and a private college

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You might be facing the choice between attending a large public university and a private university. Here are some relevant thoughts:

Some large state public universities are much stronger than others

This is true both of the students and of the faculty members. Two indications of this are:

Differences in SAT scores

The 75th percentile of SAT scores at University of Arkansas are

  • SAT Critical Reading: 620 (83rd percentile)
  • SAT Math: 640 (83rd percentile)
  • SAT Writing: 610 (83rd percentile)

By way of contrast, the 75th percentile of SAT scores at University of California at Berkeley are

  • SAT Critical Reading: 720 (96th percentile)
  • SAT Math: 770 (99th percentile)
  • SAT Writing: 740 (98th percentile)

These discrepancies corresponds to large differences in intellectual caliber.

Differences in rankings of graduate programs

The US News and World Report ranking of a graduate program reflects the quality of the faculty in the department in significant measure. UC Berkeley's biology, chemistry and computer science programs are all tied for #1 or #2 in the country. By way of contrast, some large public universities are not among the top 50 ranked graduate programs in a given area.

Some other public universities that tend to have highly ranked graduate programs are University of California at Los Angeles, University of Washington, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and University of Michigan.