Private universities are a mixed bag. There are some that are very fine learning institutions. Harvard is an example, as are Princeton or Yale. Under certain conditions a private institution can become an incredible experience for learners.
There are other private universities that are founded as for profit entities of their founders. Their primary interest is making money for the founder. The quality of the education in these institutions is questionable at best, and a horrible waste of time, money and energy at worst.
One of the ways to protect yourself is to evaluate certain things about the institution. For instance, is the school accredited? Harvard is not. Most other credible institutions are. Accreditation is a rigorous process in which institutions are evaluated on the matter of how well they are doing what they claim to be doing – do their goals and processes parallel each other? Do they deliver what they advertise?
Another facet to be examined is the credentials of the faculty. If a good portion of the faculty have Ph.D. degrees from the institution they serve, raise a red flag. That’s not a death knell, but it certainly raises credibility of the process questions.
Evaluate the scope of the institution. Do they have credentialed faculty from highly reputed institutions teaching in the areas of their expertise? If a school has a person with a Ph.D. in neurobiology teaching creative writing, you should ask more questions – IMMEDIATELY.
Check the decision-making mechanisms of the institution. Do the faculty members have relative academic freedom to teach the subject as they see fit (assuming their credentials are legitimate)? Do faculty members have input into the curriculum? Is the curriculum controlled by some "benevolent" benefactor?
Is the school growing? Is it meeting needs of students? What is their product doing in the world at large? Do they have a track record of successful graduates? What is their reputation in the general academic community?
As you can see, the list of questions to ask is extensive. But then, if these questions seem daunting, think about what your $80,000+ dollars is going for. Are you getting a Yugo for the price of a Testarosa?