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The Case for Private Higher Education

Several national surveys offer compelling evidence that private colleges outperform public universities in providing an educational environment that promotes effective learning and fosters personal development. In addition, private colleges educate students from diverse ethnic, racial, economic and family backgrounds in proportions similar to public universities—but with greater success.

Faculty-Student Interaction

Students tend to interact much more closely with professors on private college campuses than at public universities. Class sizes are generally smaller at private colleges and are taught by professors (as opposed to graduate assistants) who speak regularly with students outside the classroom, are interested in them personally as well as professionally, and take the time to challenge and mentor them.

Engaging Classroom Experiences

The classroom experience tends to be more active, engaging and rigorous at private colleges than at public universities, with more small discussion-oriented classes, more writing assignments and presentations, and more discussions that consider different values and ethics and the perspectives of women and minorities.

Learning Outside the Classroom

Private college students are more likely than their counterparts at public institutions to participate in internships, study abroad and off-campus study, and research projects with faculty members

Learning Outcomes

Students attending independent colleges and universities are more likely to report that their education consists of educationally purposeful activities that contribute to greater intellectual skills, practical competencies, and other desired learning outcomes.

Participation in Campus Activities

Private college students are more likely than their counterparts at public institutions to participate in campus organizations and extracurricular activities.

Supportive Campus Community

Private college communities are more supportive and engaged than those of public universities, and enable students to find a balanced life and to make friends from different backgrounds.

Diversity of Students

Private colleges enroll a greater proportion of low-income students and a smaller proportion of high-income students than the larger public research universities. First-generation students at private institutions are much more likely to succeed than those at public universities. And students from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds enroll at private institutions at rates comparable to public institutions.

Higher Graduation Rates

Students at private colleges are more likely to complete their degrees in four years than students at public institutions, enabling them to start earning a salary sooner or get a head start on earning an advanced degree.