Public University

Public universities are often the go-to option for most high school seniors, due to their variety of degree programs, the ability to live on campus, and a lower cost than private university. However, increasing tuition costs and stagnated wages are making 4-year degrees an expensive bet. According to William Bennett, author of Is College Worth It, graduates of a community college, makes more money on average than a graduate of a four-year college. This does not mean that a 4- year degree is a bad choice, as they are still required for many jobs, it just depends on what type of job you want. Don’t go to a university just because everyone else is, attend a university if doing so aligns with your career goals.

Who should consider attending a public university?

  • Students who are pursuing a career that requires at least a bachelor’s degree, especially those who will go on to a pursue an advanced degree / professional degree such as law or medicine.

Typical programs offered at a public university

  • Bachelor and master degrees in liberal arts (e.g. humanities, mathematics, social studies, science) and applied Sciences (e.g. engineering)
  • Professional preparatory programs (e.g. pre-med, pre-law)
  • Combined degree programs that enable you to be accepted into your undergraduate and graduate program simultaneously, often enabling you to complete both degrees in less time and for less money than if you completed them separately.
Pros Cons
  • On-campus housing and food services available
  • In-state residents pay lower tuition that out-of-state residents
  • Generally costs less than a private school
  • Wider variety of athletics and other student activities
  • Admission can be extremely competitive, even for in-state residents
  • Academic pre-requisites such as 2 years of a foreign language and 4 years of math
  • Degrees take longer and cost more than a technical or community college
  • Public universities are often much larger than private universities, with higher student to teacher ratios. Classes may often be taught by teaching assistants, rather than actual professors.
Tip: Get Free Credits in High School
Check to see if you high school offers dual-enrollment classes or a post-secondary education option (PSEO), which will enable you to receive college credit while in high school. Dual-enrollment classes are typically taken at your high school, whereas PSEO enables you to take actual college classes on the college campus.
See our High School Checklists for how to prepare for technical college while in high school.