Complex issues without simple answers
I truly wish I could answer this question, but it just isn’t a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, I select ‘no’ because it is difficult to definitively state that all private colleges are better than public colleges. In addition, suggesting that private schools as a collective are ‘better’ than public colleges would require a great deal of support and an agreed-upon set of criteria. The reasons are many and multi-faceted.
Many criteria and various opinions
First of all, what makes a college better? The number of distinguished faculty? The tuition? The quantity and quality of the majors? The campus? The support programs? The football team? Certainly all of these (and many other) factor into the equation, but there is no entity that has solidified the definition of a good school over a poor school. That said, there are accrediting bodies, certifications, and rating systems that evaluate various aspect of a college campus. Unfortunately, those sets of criteria are typically proprietary to the unique organizations that implement them.
Oversight and influence
An overall evaluative criteria for the campus as a whole is still lacking on a state, national, or global scale. What we are really talking about is perception, which in the court of public opinion is used to make many decisions, but is ultimately skewed by bias, reputation, and lack of information.
Particular schools and specific biases
Just for the sake of argument, is the University of Southern California (USC) a ‘better’ school than the University of California – Los Angeles? (UCLA)? USC is private, and UCLA is public. Both are known for certain programs of study, certain distinguished alumni, certain campus traits, and a certain atmosphere. The difficulty again is drawing a defining criteria for pitting one school against another. Before we argue for private versus public, we must ask the question, “can you be a bit more specific?”.
Overall, people attend specific schools for particular reasons. Some like the campus, others like certain programs, and still others go there because they have a general sense of reputation. The bottom line is that people have to decide what is important to them and then make a good decision. College is a big deal and with careful research, people can make a quality decision.