America’s private colleges and universities present an incredibly diverse vision of higher education. Some of the best private colleges and universities in the US have long, proud histories that define the American collegiate experience. Other private institutions have the freedom to innovate and push forward progress, without the political pressures of public colleges. Some provide a safe refuge for intellectual exploration and creativity. And some do all of those things simultaneously, along with championship athletics and cultural influence.
Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Private Colleges & Universities
College Consensus rankings combine the results of the most respected college ranking systems with the averaged ratings of thousands of real student reviews from around the web to create a unique college meta-ranking. This approach offers a comprehensive and holistic perspective missing from other college rankings. Visit our about page for information on which rankings and review sites were included in this year’s consensus rankings.
The Private Colleges & Universities category is limited to privately-owned schools receiving most of their funding from private sources.
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What’s Different About College Consensus?
The College Consensus method means that prospective students and their families get the full picture of their college options, from a wide range of perspectives. We bring together the views of experts and statisticians on the outside, and the reviews of the students on the inside.
The 100 Best Private Colleges and Universities of 2022 are ranked based on Consensus score and presented in descending order.
How is a Private College Different From a Public College?
Public and private colleges & universities both offer post-secondary educations to those who have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. There are several fundamental differences between private and public colleges that should be of interest to future students.
Private vs Public Colleges
When comparing a private college vs public school, the most well-known of the differences between private and public colleges is that state governments primarily fund public higher learning institutions. Conversely, private colleges and universities are more reliant on tuition fees, donations from alumni, as well academic endowment funds.
Another consideration in the private vs public colleges debate is that private schools may operate as non-profit or for-profit higher learning institutions. A for-profit private school or college serves as a business. In contrast, a non-profit college or university operates similarly to a public institution of higher education – where turning a profit is not of utmost importance.
When considering the differences between private and public colleges, it is also essential to remember that each provides various, although different, benefits to those who attend.
Private College vs Public Higher Learning Institutions
- When comparing the net cost of attendance between private vs public colleges, private colleges tend to have higher tuition rates. Still, they are more likely to provide students with more generous financial aid and scholarship opportunities.
- Non-profit colleges and universities tend to have a better reputation than their for-profit counterparts.
- When comparing the diversity of programs between a private college vs public school, public schools and universities tend to have a wider variety of programs from which students may choose.
Are Private Colleges Better Than Public Colleges or Universities?
When considering the type of school to attend, it is hard to avoid asking yourself– Is private college better than public? The reality is that private and public schools offer distinct experiences with regard to campus and resident life. The answer depends on the student, as follows –
- Independent learners will likely fare better at a public school where the student must be responsible for seeking help when needed. Plus, public colleges tend to have larger class sizes.
- Private schools may be better for students who prefer additional guidance from professors and academic advisors. Private schools will likely offer smaller class sizes that provide a more intimate setting for learning, with further one-on-one interaction.
Is Private College Expensive?
If you are leaning towards the private college experience, after completing sufficient research, you will likely want to answer the following questions –
- Why are private colleges so expensive?
- How much is private college tuition after the receipt of scholarships and financial aid?
How Much Is A Private College?
Private colleges tend to have higher price tags than public colleges or universities. However, despite the higher sticker price, many students attending a private school find the private institution of higher education represents a relatively good value due to –
- Available options offered by the private college to lower tuition expenses.
- Improved job potential and ROI (Return on Investment), depending on the field of study and level of education.
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