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Choosing which U.S. university to attend can be overwhelming. There are so many choices. Which one is right for you?

Many international students focus on the big-name schools like Princeton, Harvard and Columbia.They have name recognition and often show up in university rankings. These names are also familiar, you might have seen them in famous movies and TV shows. However, the United States has many great schools to choose from. With a little bit of research, you will find that a public university has everything you want at a more affordable price.

The difference between public and private universities

A public university gets its funding from the government. Usually, this is a state government. As a result, these schools tend to be less expensive.

On the other hand, a private university operates as a non-profit organization. That means that it gets little or no government funding. Instead, it relies on student tuition and fees. The money from these is reinvested back into the operation of the school. Some private universities get support from religious organizations or churches as well. They tend to be more expensive than public universities.

In addition to these two types of universities, the United States also has community colleges and for-profit universities. Attending either of these may not be possible under your student visa, so we won’t talk about them here.

The advantages of a public university

Students often choose private colleges for name recognition, but some public schools offer great prestige too. For example, the University of Colorado Boulder has been named #2 among best global universities for Geosciences, and The University of South Carolina is #1 for both its undergraduate International Business program and its International MBA program.

As mentioned above, public universities tend to be less expensive than private universities. This means that you can still get a great education in the United States while spending less money.

Public universities often offer more programs than private colleges. So you have more options to choose from. You can easily switch majors without changing schools. You may also have access to a greater range of clubs, activities, and specialized classes.

Because they offer more programs, public universities also tend to be larger than private universities. There are more students on campus, which means you’ll get to meet more people from the United States and around the world. You will certainly find some friends at your public university.

Advantages of a private university

Many private universities have a history of excellence in specific subjects. For example, Adelphi University is known for its Graduate Social Work program and American University is known for its International Law program.

Private universities offer their own set of advantages. They tend to be smaller, which means you might get more one-on-one attention in your classes. The smaller size also means that students build close friendships. You are likely to see many of the same students in several of your classes, so you have more opportunity to build deeper relationships with them.

How to decide

Whether your university is public or private isn’t as important as whether it’s a good fit for your needs. Get to know the school by researching the academic programs you want to study, talking to alumni, and doing an in-person or virtual campus tour.

Talking with an education counselor can also help you narrow down your choices. Tell us about you and what you hope to study and we’ll help you find a counselor who can guide you to the best-fit university of your dreams.