College acceptance letters: differences between public and private colleges

college acceptance lettersIt’s so exciting when you get those envelopes in the mail, and inside the letter reads, “Congratulations, Scott. You have been admitted for the fall of 2008!”

He’s been accepted at two colleges, so far. I don’t even know if our son will look any further. We have one public and one private in our sights. If all else fails and we can’t find the money for either one, two community colleges sit less than 20 minutes from our front door.

But until any decisions are made, it’s interesting to see the differences already being displayed by private and public institutions – when it comes to upfront fees and attentiveness — once you are admitted.

I may be a little prejudiced since I graduated from a midwestern liberal arts, private college. But even our son is noticing that the private college seems to be a little more devoted to wooing him to pick their small, quaint campus. Each week, he gets at least one correspondence from that school. They send him invites for visits – which we will be doing in a month — information about upcoming events on the campus and encouraging letters from students, alumni and faculty.

college-guy3The real clincher is when they asked him to reserve a dorm room and asked his preferences, they didn’t ask for a dime. They haven’t asked for anything. In fact, he got to enroll free of charge.

The questions for his room and roommate preferences were pretty extensive with inquiries about his hobbies, sleeping and eating schedules, and more.

OK. I know the state university is big. And they don’t have time to baby-sit the freshmen. But when we filled out his residence hall housing application there, they barely asked any questions about what kind of person he was and what he was looking for in a roommate. Plus, you had to pay $120 up front to save a spot. We’ll get $100 back if he decides not to go there, if we remember to send them a written letter requesting the money back. In addition to that, they’ve sent at least three letters requesting Scott send $185 for an enrollment fee. That too is refundable prior to May 1.

For a family who lives paycheck to paycheck because of two self-employed parents, an extra $305 paid out to a university right away can be a big expense – especially since we don’t know if he’s going there. Just to apply at this Big 10 school was $40.

Scott doesn’t have a clue, at this point, which one he is favoring. But he also knows that the decision will be made once the financial aid process is complete and we know what type of help we will be getting.

That’s a scary situation for us. We can’t just come up with $10,000 or even $5,000 right now. Farming sounds like a very profitable business in the midst of record-priced corn. But no one seems to remember that everything else went up in price that makes farming a struggle for the small, independent farmer.


Choosing Colleges