Has your homeschooler considered applying to a private research university? This category of colleges includes universities like Boston University, Vanderbilt, Emory, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Tufts, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, and Washington University in St. Louis. Applying to non-Ivy private research universities is a hot trend in college admissions. Many students are attracted to the size and offerings of these colleges, which means they have become more selective every year. This two part series takes a look at what private research universities from a homeschool perspective. What do these schools expect from homeschool applicants and what can they offer to students who enroll.
What Makes Private Research Universities Appealing
While these universities vary in size, many are mid-sized which makes them part of their appeal. While small liberal arts colleges offer the advantage of a great faculty to student ratio, some students feel like it would be stifling to be at a college under 2,000 students. Big public universities can be an affordable college option, particularly in-state, but some college applicants dislike the idea of “factory” education or being one of 40,000 students on a giant campus. Private research universities are often a mid-size alternative. Some of the schools in this class have around 7,000 or so undergraduates and may have twice that many graduate and professional school students.
These schools have put money into research. They have top notch lab facilities and professors who are actively involved in their fields. Students who attend research universities may have access to equipment and internship possibilities that students at a liberal arts school will not.
Students interested in technical fields such as engineering and computer science will often find their only alternatives are to attend a private or public research university. Liberal arts colleges may offer 3-2 programs that allow students to transfer to a research university, but options are limited. Research universities offer the facilities and accreditation that students in technical majors require. Many students interested in professional schools (medical, law, and dental) may also be attracted to the offerings of research universities.
Excellent Financial Aid
Some private research universities meet 100% of demonstrated financial need, something that most public research universities are unable to do. While many of the schools in this category do not offer merit aid, a few of them offer significant merit scholarships to the most qualified candidates.
Many colleges in this class are located in cities. Some applicants are turned off by the more rural setting of many small liberal arts colleges and the “college town” feel of some public universities.
While admissions at private research universities has gotten significantly more competitive over the last ten years, there is a range of competitiveness in this class of colleges. Many of these schools still carry a high degree of prestige but may be a bit more reasonable odds for admissions than Ivy League level schools.
Big College Experience
The experience of being a fan of college sports such as basketball and football, is a big part of the college decision for some students. Some students who are overwhelmed by the idea of being a big public university though. Some private research universities such as Duke and Northwester offer nationally competitive teams without requiring students to attend a big public university.
Continue to part two of this article to learn more about what universities expect to see from homeschool applicants.