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Articles / Applying to College / Do I Have a Shot at a Private College?

Do I Have a Shot at a Private College?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | June 5, 2014
Question: Will I be able to get into a private college? I am just finishing 10th grade and I have a 3.24 gpa; I'm in Choir; I play the guitar; I do a lot of community service through my church; I tutor elementary school students. Thank you so much!

You seem to be under the impression that a private college is harder to get into than a public one. But the truth is that SOME private colleges are among the hardest in the world to get into (e.g., Harvard, Stanford, MIT …) while others are the EASIEST. I won't name names here, but there are plenty of private colleges that admit nearly everyone who applies. The majority of four-year public colleges have higher admission standards than these private schools, although the standards can vary greatly.

As a sophomore with a 3.24 GPA, you will probably have many options … both private and public … although the more selective colleges will expect a GPA that is higher than yours. (However, a range of factors such as the level of the classes you've taken, your family background, and other life experiences and challenges will also be considered before your final verdict is issued.)


You should try College Confidential's “SuperMatch" to identify colleges that might meet your current preferences and that also admit students with a GPA in your range. Go to http://www.collegeconfidential.com/college_search/ .Then answer the preference questions, being sure to select your current GPA under the “My Scores" heading. Note, however, that it's still really early for you to hone in on specific schools, and–without SAT or ACT results–it's also too early to get a really reliable sense of where you are most likely to get accepted.

When you select your SuperMatch preferences, if you choose “Private" under the “Public or Private" heading, and then “Must Have," you will see a list of some of the private colleges that might be good fits for you.

But please remember that just because a college is “private," it definitely doesn't mean that it is BEST. In fact, some private colleges charge high tuitions (that may require students and their parents to take out big loans) and then don't provide an education that is any better than what is available at a much lower cost at a public school.

So when it's time to choose your college, do your “homework." Check out average student debt, graduation rates, job placement rates, etc. and keep your mind open to both public and private, at least in the early stages of your search.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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