Despite higher than average costs of other higher education options, small colleges have a great deal to offer prospective students. More than small class sizes or campuses, small colleges offer two terrific benefits that larger schools have a hard time giving their students.
1. Attention from your professors. This may seem like a basic derivation from the most obvious benefit of a small college, small class sizes, but, in fact, attention from your professors is much more important that the size of any class. Almost universally, professors from small colleges view their profession as one primarily concerned with teaching rather than research. Because of this, small college professors seek more personal interaction with their students and keep their offices open to all comers. Taking advantage of this mindset can lead to several practical benefits: illness or other classes’ pressure will be taken into consideration with regard to assignments and possible extensions, professors will think of you for interesting research or other independent study opportunities that can be both exciting and impressive, and, perhaps most importantly, small college professors who have gotten to know their students write personal, emphatic recommendation letters for graduate schools and job applications.
2. Big fish in a small pond. The college years are a time for many people to reinvent themselves, whether that means focusing on a particular subject, throwing yourself into your studies, or just changing your wardrobe. At small colleges there is the added benefit of opportunity. When fewer people go to a school, more leadership positions and research opportunities can be had at younger ages and with fewer ties to the established order of a campus’ social life. The same goes for chances to play on sports teams and participating in a much less exclusive greek life. So if you were a wallflower in high school with a new inclination toward involvement or are the excited student searching for that chance to do independent study as a freshman, then look in the direction of a small college and you may find your dream spot.
Colleges come in all shapes and sizes, and with so many choices it is sometimes difficult to find categories to help in your decision-making process. Remember these two characteristics, though, as they apply to nearly every small college and every small college’s set of goals in the nation.