TYPES OF U.S. UNIVERSITIES
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PUBLIC V.S. PRIVATE
Public universities receive funding from the government, while private universities are funded by endowments and private sources. Public universities tend to be big. Many public universities have large campuses and thousands of students. With selective funding sources, private universities have smaller class sizes. Faculty may be smaller as well.
If you like big campuses and a larger student population, a public university may be a great choice. If you prefer smaller campuses and a smaller class size, a private university may be more appropriate.
Cost wise, public universities usually cost less as compared to a private university. However, many private universities often offer financial support packages and may be needs-blind (Harvard, Yale for example) with total coverage for the cost of expenses.
- University of Michigan
- University of California, Berkley
- University of California, Los Angeles
- Washington University
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Stanford University
- Harvard University
- Yale University
- Brown University
- Dartmouth College
LIBERAL ARTS V.S. TRADITIONAL
The main difference is specialization. For traditional universities, one needs to declare a major immediately or within the first year. On the other hand, at a liberal arts college, you can spend more time exploring different fields and getting a well-rounded education. Liberal arts colleges tend to have smaller classes and faculty. Undergraduate education is still broad-based and well-rounded so that students graduate with general intellectual critical thinking skills that can be used in working life.
On the other hand, traditional universities tend to focus on students committing to study a Major (Law, Medicine, Engineering etc.) in a particular School (e.g: School of Engineering, School of Arts etc.)
Popular liberal arts colleges include William, Amherst, Swarthmore and Wellesley.
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DECLARING A MAJOR
Most traditional universities can allow you to enter undeclared in the first year. However, this only confers time to those who are undecided, as you usually have to declare a major after the first year. It gives space for students to explore other areas of interests and run the gamut before deciding.
It has no other advantages and there are some misconceptions that should be cleared up.
1. UNRELIABLE BACKDOOR
Many schools are aware that students think they can be undeclared and switch courses later. Hence, many have made provisions with strict cutoff for the number of transfer students a year or that only freshmen can enter certain programs. Or that sufficient relevant courses/credits must be obtained before interview for transfer.
3. DISADVANTAGED COMMONAPPS
If you are a strong applicant with perfect test scores, high GPA and outstanding personal essays and good extracurricular achievements, then it is unlikely. However if your application is weak, then being undeclared may not be a good thing as schools will have doubts on how you can contribute to their university’s communities by being so undecided.
2. DELAYED SPECIALISATION
If you are not rushing to graduate and start working, being undeclared is fine. That is why some students may take 4-5 years to graduate. However, for the more driven focused students, they may prefer to specialise immediately to have early access to their subject of interests as well as connection with faculty and potential work connections in future (usually graduating within 3 years).
4. LOWER CHANCES OF SCHOLARSHPS
The chance of obtaining a scholarship is much higher for students who are able to declare their majors. This is often because the scholarships are tied to a certain organisation or faculty which requires the major to be declared.