The Public Ivies

The phrase “Public Ivies” was first coined by Richard Moll in his book The Public Ivies: America’s Flagship Undergraduate Colleges, and referred to public institutions that “provide an Ivy league collegiate experience at a public school price.” A later book by Howard and Michael Greene expanded on Moll’s original list. These colleges were noted for their academic rigor, superstar faculty and high rates of selectivity. Students who qualify for in-state tuition at one of these schools could save up to $25,000 per year over costs at an academically comparable private institution.

Public funds and private grants combine to subsidize the cost of education at the Public Ivies, but the lower cost to the student comes at a price. All of the “Public Ivies” are big—the University of Florida has three times the number of students as Cornell, the largest of the Ivy League colleges. Large student bodies translate into crowded lecture halls, more graduate teaching assis-tants and limited interaction with well-regarded faculty before junior year. Large also means more competition for required classes and an increased likeli-hood of spending more than four years as an undergraduate.

Positive aspects of the Public Ivies include world-class facilities, big time sports programs and an almost unlimited choice of classes and activities. The Public Ivies are a good choice for proactive students—those who take an active role in their education and who are adept at seeking out the learning resources that they need. These are the students who get to know their professors by showing up during their office hours and who actively pursue research and internship opportunities. They meet frequently with advisors and make good use of the career placement office at their institutions. If this sounds like you, the Public Ivies may be right up your alley.

Generally included among the Public Ivies are UCLA and Berkeley, the Universities of Michigan, Vermont, Virginia, North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and Texas (Austin), the College of William and Mary and Miami University of Ohio. Also noted are the Universities of Wisconsin, Florida, Washington, Maryland (College Park), Penn State and State University of New York (Binghamton), among others.

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