The college experience is a phrase with which a significant percentage of Americans can identify. However, to almost every individual with a university background, it takes on a different meaning. For some, the college experience may have taken place at a small, Jesuit school in a rural area while for others it may have occurred at a bustling public school with an incredibly diverse crowds of students. The choice of what type of school one attends is a defining factor in what type of education one receives and the type of experience he looks back on when it’s over.For those of us who have yet to take the plunge into the world of midterms and mayhem, or for those with children or acquaintances who are considering options for their university years, here are some considerations to take into account when pondering the outcomes of the mainstream university options.

Education reform

Public education
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Public schools are arguably the most common schools, especially for middle to lower class households. While tuition is usually not as pricey as private or religious institutions, funding from donors and alumni normally helps to provide wonderful educational experiences for attendees. The University of Pennsylvania received a $120 million donation in 1993 from Walter H. Annenberg, and that is just one example of the kind of generosity that provides funding opportunities for public institutions. In addition to providing quality education opportunities, public universities normally have larger class sizes, higher attendance levels at sporting events, and greater levels of diversity in terms of student population, teacher population, and the styles and types of classes offered.

While public universities provide more opportunities to observe diverse atmospheres and allows individuals to subscribe to the type of college experience they want, private universities tend to offer more high-brow options. They generally have smaller class sizes, more personalized lessons, and more student-professor exposure. Private school counseling centers are usually more thoughtful about advising students than public school centers. Consistent with higher levels of individual care from university faculty come higher prices. While prices may, to some extent, affect the class level of students, scholarships funded by donations of university supporters can help supplement payments from some students. Donors such as Henry Kravis and Bill Gates have contributed $100 million and $50 million respectively to Columbia University. Contributions like these allow students from all backgrounds to have the opportunity to attend private schools.

Another option for incoming college students are Jesuit universities. With over 4,200 Jesuit universities throughout the United States, there are several to choose from. Jesuit schools are known for their efforts to promote justice, demonstrate value-based leadership, and instill ethics and values into their student populations. They strive to educate the “whole person,” intellectually, spiritually, and socially. With a benefactors council of over a hundred members (including names like William J. Janetschek and Frances Babb), each contributing $25,000 or more, Jesuit universities like St. John’s University can provide scholarships and extra programs for students in need.

Aligning the desired college experience with a type of university that is capable of providing that outcome is crucial to fulfilling an “experience” that one can look back on with a smile.