Have you ever wanted to be in a classroom with 300 other students? Yeah, neither have I. Big universities can appear to be attractive at first with their lengthy course catalogs, plethora of student groups, nationally known sports teams and high levels of buzzing campus activity. However, it is incredibly easy to get lost in the crowd at the bigger schools. While larger universities seem to have more opportunities, it is important to remember that since they have such massive student bodies, competition tends to be very high making it harder for some students to access the opportunities that were advertised to them. Here’s five reasons why a smaller college might be the better option for you.
1. You’re more than just a number.
Often times large universities use statistics such as acceptance rates, graduation or job placement rates and faculty-to-student ratios to lure in prospective students and their families. Because of this, you are more likely to be seen as a statistic rather than an individual. A smaller school ensures that you are not seen as a number. For example, your advisors and professors will get to know you and your peers on a personal level because the student body is so much smaller. A smaller student body means smaller class sizes, which also means that you are more likely to get more personal attention and more interaction time between your professors as well as your classmates. Small class sizes also encourage participation which creates a more enriching experience for you and the entire class. The value of those lifelong professional relationships that you will form with professors and faculty members at small schools simply can’t be measured by numbers.
2. You have more chances to do collaborative work with your professors.
Because professors at large schools can have hundreds of students to teach at any given time, they inevitably have much less time to devote to each student. The professors at smaller colleges have fewer students to attend to which allows them to invest more time in each student. The vast majority of professors at any given school are almost always working on projects outside of teaching such as doing research or publishing content related to their field. More often than not, those professors allow students to assist them with their projects which gives the students valuable experience for resumes or graduate school applications. At larger schools, it is much harder to get the chance to do collaborative work with professors because so many other qualified students want the same exact opportunity that you do. Smaller schools, on the other hand, have fewer students which decreases competition and gives more students the opportunity to work with professors than larger universities.
3. Shorter walks to class.
This reason is not quite as important as the previous ones, but it still matters. Big campuses can be difficult and confusing to navigate, and getting from one place to another on time often requires the use of a bike or purchasing bus tickets. Smaller campuses have everything you need in one central location rather than being spread out over several city blocks. Having shorter walks to class is especially helpful if you go to school in a place that has brutal winters or heavy amounts of rain. Additionally, you will be able to schedule your classes closer together since it only takes a few minutes to get from one side of campus to the other. Smaller schools allow you to spend less time commuting and more time getting involved and studying.
4. Small schools can have a stronger sense of community.
As stated previously, it is easy to get lost in the crowd at large universities. At times, this can leave you feeling lonely or homesick. At small colleges, the graduating class size is much smaller which means you are more likely to get to know most, if not all, of your classmates. Instead of seeing strangers as you walk through campus, you will see familiar faces. You’ll always have someone to sit with during class, too. While some small colleges may not be able to offer quite as many extracurricular activities as universities, most of them still offer dozens of ways to get involved between Greek life, club sports, service-based organizations, music groups, religious groups, student media and many other interest-based groups. Additionally, most of these groups are usually open to anyone who wants to participate whereas you might have to audition or apply for the same groups at larger schools.
5. You will get to know all of your peers.
After four years of college, it is very likely that you will have had at least one class with almost every student in your graduating class. Between academics, class Facebook pages, extracurricular activities, sports and fun activities in your residence halls, it is almost impossible to not meet the vast majority of your graduating class. At your commencement ceremony, you won’t be surrounded by strangers; you will be surrounded by your friends and members of the tight-knit community instead.
Small colleges might not be right for everybody, but they certainly have some impressive benefits. The best way to decide which school is best for you is to make a list of things you need and want your school to have and evaluate your options based on that. Take time to consider all of your options before committing to one college or university. After all, it will be your home away from home.
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