If you read the thread "need your honest opinion" you'll get a better idea. I think what you said about the quality of your education depending on yourself is where I fall on the issue, but it seems like there are quite a few on SDN who feel differently...funshine said:Could you explain your background and/or why you're asking this question?
MAYBE people at the very top institutions (public and private) develop a more nuanced understanding of subjects...and MAYBE they develop superior thinking skills...but honestly, I would say the quality of your education depends entirely on yourself. Through your own curiosity and efforts will come a great deal of understanding. Also, a downfall many people fail to mention about going to top-notch institutions is that you often end up "changing" your plans and opting for an easier major because your original plan was too damn hard. The classic pre-med MolBio major turned art history "Teach for America" example.
I see. Well it's true that a top private school (I'm talking top 10) will have infinite resources, famous faculty to teach you, and opportunities you may not get anywhere else...which is WHY they're so highly ranked, but the truth of the matter is that most students don't make enough use of these opps. Conversely, I've known quite a few of my friends who have a burning thirst for knowledge, and though they go to our crappy state TTT, they've done amazing things during college. So, basically I agree with youmashce said:If you read the thread "need your honest opinion" you'll get a better idea. I think what you said about the quality of your education depending on yourself is where I fall on the issue, but it seems like there are quite a few on SDN who feel differently...
I think I agree with all of thattigress said:I think the big difference is that at the top private schools every student will have at least some amazing professors, access to great resources, etc. The education is practically slapping you in the face. At the main public institutions students definitely have the opportunity to get as good an education as anywhere, but they have to seek it out more. Also, honors programs within those institutions can sometimes act like schools unto themselves, and they certainly offer as good an education as is available. But an unmotivated student (or one who just wants the degree, or the degree with a high GPA, but doesn't care about actually learning) at a top private can get a poor education, as well. So in the end it probably depends on the student.
I think there's a bigger difference between the top (Ivy caliber) privates and the small, lesser-known private schools. Some small schools really don't have great access to a variety of courses, or great professors, or great resources. These are realms in which the huge size of some of the state schools really becomes an asset.