3 Reasons to Consider Public, In-State Colleges

Lower tuition and more opportunities might make sense for you.

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Public or private? In state or out? Theses are just some of the decisions a college-bound student will have to make.

JULIE:

Lindsey was an attractive college applicant. She had top grades, excellent test scores, and a number of service and leadership experiences on her résumé. For many of her peers, those things translated into attendance at private, out-of-state schools.

Lindsey's choice was different for a number of reasons, but here is one of the most important, and one that might resonate with you:

1. In state and public meant lower cost: The University of Kansas, where Lindsey attends, was the second-most affordable option we had available to us once the numbers from all of the schools were finalized. And while we didn't base her college choice on cost alone, it certainly was a major consideration.

[See which 10 public colleges are least expensive for in-state students.]

KU was competitive on both tuition and room and board, and it offered attractive scholarships as well. It also offered one other benefit that none of the schools had: a tuition compact. KU's tuition compact meant that—as long as Lindsey graduated in four years—her tuition cost would not rise during that time.

[Get tips on how to pay for college.]

That was important to us because, once a student is attending a school, you have no control over what that school will decide to do in the way of tuition increases. A tuition compact is a great budgeting tool you may want to consider, too. (Public schools are not the only institutions that offer tuition compacts. The College of St. Joseph, in Rutland, Vt., is an example of a private school with a similar tuition guarantee.)

LINDSEY:

I went to a high school in Kansas where virtually everyone went on to college. As one would expect, a large number of my classmates went to Kansas or Kansas State University, our state's two large, in-state, public universities. Some of my closest friends, however, went to private or out-of-state schools such as Saint Louis University, the University of Virginia, Cornell University, the University of Notre Dame, and others.

If you're considering an in-state, public school, consider some of my reasons for choosing that route:

2. Majors: Although my university doesn't have a prestigious reputation, its journalism program had a lot to offer, including quality aspects like the campus newspaper and television station. The quality of those things was more important than the specific school I attended.

When considering prospective schools, research the programs you're interested in, and compare major-related extracurriculars you might like to join. When I found out about the journalism program at Kansas, I learned not to disregard a school just because it's in state or because "everyone goes there."

3. More opportunities: Public, in-state universities can be intimidating because of their size. But what I have found at the University of Kansas is that its larger size means there are endless opportunities to be utilized. That's something I didn't take into consideration when choosing a school, but should have.

Large schools might offer more awards, more internships, more courses, and more resources. It may take a little more effort to find your place at a larger school, but the hundreds of clubs, activities, and organizations offered ensure that students can find something that interests them—even if they've never been involved with it before.

[Find out how to get involved in college.]