Public vs. Private Education
Sitting at a symposium at MIT this week, I had a notion that might better define the difference between post-secondary public and private education. (For those of you who don’t know what that means, I think this post might help you figure out where to send your children – or yourself – to college.)
The difference in public college education and private college education is that private colleges make their students think. Public colleges make their students work.
Neither is right or wrong. Both have benefits. But as I listened to insanely smart people discuss my world — the media, marketing and such — I realized my education under-serves me. My ability to tackle topics from an academic, philosophical stand point is much weaker than my privately educated brethren.
This is a weakness in one regard — I want to be impressive and thought provoking to the intellectuals in my circles. But it is a strength in others — I’m known for distilling complexities down to the simple and offering a pragmatic view of the world, not one from the pipe and ascot perspective.
My undergraduate education at Morehead State University was one largely guided by me. While the occasional professor challenged new discovery, I could have easily coasted through and gotten my B.A. without regard to the A-B-C-D parts, and been none the less advantaged.
But when I have deep conversations with my friends who learned at Centre, MIT, Tufts and similar institutions, I realize they’ve been stimulated to think more deeply about things, to understand the broad range of factors behind one subject or another and to synthesize philosophy and activity into one, complete understanding.
The day-to-day activity of a communications profession was taught to me in my college classes. But that day-to-day activity could be taught to anyone of any educational background in a manner of hours or days. It is the teaching of the thought and consideration behind an industry or profession that public institutions fail to deliver.
Certainly, there are exceptions. But if you should find yourself choosing between public and private education for yourself or others, know that public will teach you how to work. Private will teach you how to think.
And I find that to be a premium worth the investment.
November 9, 2012