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David Levine

Research Scientist, University of Tennessee

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Are private universities worth the money for a bachelor's degree?

The average cost of getting a bachelor's degree has steadily grown since the 1980's. With many private universities costing 2-5 times the cost of public universities, are there really benefits for the majority of students? Or are there minimal differences between the two? Can student get as much out of a state university as a private one if they just work at it?

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    Apr 17 2014: David, Students from K - 12 through PHd have the same thing in common ... they are exposed to the opportunity to learn. Some drink heavly from the fountian of knowledge and some skate by. I have had some in R & D that should never have been hired who had a big name school on the sheep skin .. and some from a small school who made a difference to the project.

    If there were a real advantage in Private VS Public then the hiring process would be heavly favoring one or the other. I worked for a company that favored Texas A & M over all others. I was in the military and know there is a ring knockers club for each service academy.

    In my experience I cannot see the difference or justify the expense. The sheep skin just opens the door. At some point you must produce ... yep ... the truth is in the pudding ...

    The sad truth is that a key from a big school frat ... opens more doors. Especially in government / politics / and other good ole boy organizations ... once they are in they do not have to produce ... have no responsibility to the public ... and are not held accountable ... they do receive heavy pay checks and socialize for advancement.

    Dave, what brought you to this question? We can all read where you hail from and your title. So what up?

    Just curious ..... Bob.
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      Apr 17 2014: Bob - I think having worked in both (public and private), having attended both (private twice and public twice) and having 4 children who are all unique has led me to my own opinions. There is no 1 answer. The college that gives the student the best chance to meet their career objectives and to become a life long learner is the best choice.

      Matching students to a university/college is much more important than we think. They need to fit in from a social, academic, rigor, etc., perspective. This matching process is student and parent driven but often finances and geography play the biggest role.
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      Apr 19 2014: Robert, I definitely have to agree with you in regards to the degree of "favoritism" seen in the working world. It appears that a lot of what gets an individual through the interview process and through the doors is a matter of who they know, what fraternity/sorority they are a member of, and what university they attended. Of course many of these individuals generally flounder or otherwise fail at their jobs, but once they move up to a level where they are "protected" or cannot otherwise backtrack to a "lower level" position, the upper-level management usually keeps them on board or even "promotes" them into a position where they can't do as much damage to the company (i.e. the Dilbert Principle). Similar to this are the employees who are promoted to their highest level of incompetence (i.e. the Peter Principle), but that's another rant for another time.

      Obviously there are quite a few exceptional individuals who attended prestigious universities, are self-motivated, incredibly intelligent, and truly excel in their career fields. However, these are innate qualities that are unique to the individual, not the university that they attended. As you pointed out, the problem is that individuals with degrees from prestigious universities generally get preferential treatment.
    • Apr 27 2014: Bob,

      Whether you like it or not, private or public magnet schools allow for better students that are selected and I think this forces the teachers to be better or they would be laughed out of the classroom.
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        Apr 27 2014: There is no argument that private and magnet schools have a better selection of students. However, IMO, the difference lies in the administration. The administrators do what they use to do in the public system. They manage. They can hold a teachers feet to the fire and can take action when they do not produce. They have budget constraints ... they have obligations and contracts with parents ... and both the teachers and the administrators do what is necessary to meet the obligations ... it is very simple .. failure is not an option. With failure comes closure. Again, my opinion, I think that this makes for a better team and is a key element in the success of private and magnet schools. The admnistrators, teachers, students, and parents are all on the same team and it is pretty much transparent. Each has a voice and a stake in the outcome.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.

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