Whether you're a high school senior on the college search or just curious about education, there's a lot to be said about the differences between private (for profit) universities and the traditional state colleges. Obviously both have their pros and cons, but by looking at two specific schools, Arizona State University (a traditional state school) and Grand Canyon University (a private school), we can see exactly how such schools differ in specific areas.
Consider the following ways in which private universities compare to state schools.
A state school like Arizona State is going to have a much higher acceptance rate (89%), while a private university is able to be more selective and therefore accept fewer applicants: only 37%.
Cost of attending
With a state school you have to worry about in-state tuition vs. out-of-state tuition, which is going to be more expensive. Private universities have a flat rate for everyone, whether they're residents of the state or not.
In the case of these two colleges, it would be cheaper to go to Arizona State if you can get in-state tuition, but if you're coming from anywhere other than Arizona you'll get a better deal at Grand Canyon.
One of the most important factors of a college decision -- the financial aid a school can offer its students -- can be a determining factor for almost every potential student. In this department, the state school has more to offer. About 89% of Arizona State students get financial aid compared to the 74% receiving aid at Grand Canyon, and Arizona State students tend to get more grants and fewer loans so they have less debt after school.
At a state school like Arizona, the student body will be 50/50 male to female, while at Grand Canyon the student population is 2/3 female and one 1/3 male.
At a private school, class sizes are typically smaller and students get more one-on-one time with their professors.
Keep in mind that these are just single examples of the two types universities. While we can make broad statements about state vs. private colleges and how they differ, there are other factors -- such as location or student body, for example -- that go into making a school unique.
Increasingly, online schools present an attractive alternative to students, who have them to think about and the options they have to offer.