For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jan 09 2018
by Ali Acker

3 Common Myths About Large Universities

By Ali Acker - Jan 09 2018

When choosing a college, it’s important to choose one that best suits your interests and goals. If you’re leaning towards a larger university, don’t feel overwhelmed by its size. Instead, focus on the benefits of attending a bigger school and don’t believe everything you hear about a big school. Here are two truths and lie: large university edition. 

Truth: You’ll have a Wide Range of Academic Opportunities

One thing is certain about larger schools, you will have a lot of academic opportunities. Although introductory classes can contain sometimes hundreds of students, there are plenty of smaller classes.

In my first semester, I had only had two classes with over 100 people. The rest of my classes were around 30-40 students, with one class with only 18 students. If you are looking for a smaller class, many seminars usually have a smaller number of students. Likewise, there are many interesting classes that are capped at a smaller number of students.

It’s easy to find these classes in the course catalog, and some schools even have an online sources with course descriptions. Besides a wide range of classes, large schools have many other academic opportunities available as well, including internships and research opportunities. Many professors working on research love when students are passionate about their subject and want to help out. At a larger school, you will have a wider selection of classes, internships, and research opportunities.

Truth: There’s Lots to Do

If there’s one thing I can say to describe my first semester, all I can say is that I was ALWAYS busy. At a larger school, there are more clubs and on-campus organizations. From athletic teams to community service organizations, you can join many different clubs to make a difference on campus and meet new people. Between classes and clubs, you will no doubt be busy. While I was always busy my first semester, I always made sure to find time to relax and de-stress.

Lie: You’re Going to Get Lost in the Crowd

When I committed to school, my prime concern was that I would get lost in the crowd of students. I was going to be one in a class of almost 4,000 freshmen. How would I find my friends? How could I get to know professors? What if I needed help with my classes or major?

I heard my friends talking about their smaller class sizes, and already meeting up with future classmates. In the months leading up to moving in, all I could worry about was the big school that awaited me.

When I finally got to school, I was a little overwhelmed. At convocation, I sat with the class of 2021. All I could see were endless rows of chairs. However, I thought to myself: I’m part of this class. The first few weeks were a little challenging, but after some time I settled into a rhythm. I  found great friends, who I seemed to run into wherever I went. I slowly got to know my professors.

Even in larger lecture classes, all my professors made themselves available in office hours and always responded to my personal concerns as soon as I emailed them. I talked with my academic adviser and older students that I meet in my class about my major and interesting courses I should take in the coming semesters. Yes, going to a larger school can be daunting. But with all the resources available to help you, it’s hard to get lost in the crowd.

Overall, both larger and smaller universities have their pros and cons. However, don’t be afraid to attend to a larger school. I promise if I can do it, anyone can. 

Lead Image Credit: Ali Acker

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Ali Acker - University of Virginia

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