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Learn More for Less: The Benefits of State Universities

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If you’re a high school student who is starting to think about college, don’t overlook state schools – even those right in your own backyard. You may equate educational excellence with exclusive Ivy League schools, but for the vast majority of students who don’t have out-of-this-world GPAs or blueblood trust funds to fall back on, the hefty $40,000-a-year price tags that these A-list colleges demand may be too much for your budget to bear.

Private universities like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale might get all the media props, but education experts say that state schools offer most students the opportunity to enjoy a great college experience, as well. As you begin the process of lining up a list of schools you want to apply to, be sure to carefully consider at least a few state universities. Here are a few reasons why these schools should make your list of finalists.

State universities cost less. This is the clincher for the vast majority of students who ultimately choose to attend a state university. With the average cost of tuition at a state school running between $4,000 and $8,000 per year, the educational bang for your buck can’t be beat. If you choose an in-state school, your costs could be even lower.

State universities have larger and more diverse student populations. If you like the idea of attending a school with students from every nation, race, religion, creed, and socioeconomic background, a state university is your best bet. Unlike the relatively homogenous environments that dominate at most pricey private universities, state schools are often melting pots of diversity – educational democracy at its best.

State universities are accessible to more students. If your high school performance wasn’t consistently top-notch, the doors of most private universities will be closed to you. State universities, on the other hand, have more relaxed admissions standards, so they tend to be more forgiving for students with lower GPAs or a few blemishes on their school records.

State universities offer a broader range of activities and clubs. Because they boast larger student populations, most state universities offer a larger variety of extracurricular activities than do their private counterparts. Whether you’re into athletics, theater, environmental activism, or something else, you’re likely to find a group of likeminded students at your state university.

State universities are often closer to home. Unless you already live in the Northeastern United States, where the vast majority of top private universities are clustered, attending a private school will probably mean making a cross-country move. On the other hand, there are probably a number of state universities within a day’s drive from your hometown. If being within driving distance of your friends and family are important to you, a state university might just be your best bet.

If you’re a soon-to-be college freshman, are you considering state universities? Why or why not? If you’re already in college, do you attend a private or a public institution? Are you happy with your choice? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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