Bigger is better. Or so the phrase goes. When thinking about college, endless opportunities come to mind. A big university with a sprawling campus, dining halls with different meal options and a Starbucks planted in the middle of it all. Dormitories line the outskirts of the campus, and allow you to really feel the school pride. It’s all exciting and new. It’s the college experience.
Suddenly, everything feels bigger than you. You feel lost all of a sudden at this big college. There is too much choice and too much going on. You are just a face and number in the crowd of over 20,000 undergraduate and a couple thousand graduate students.
Smaller colleges may just be the solution if you are looking for things that might be on too grand a scale at big universities.
Small colleges offer more face time. Attending a small college (which is 2,500 undergraduate students or less), your teachers get to know your names and more importantly, your strengths and weaknesses. They are more available for outside help because they don’t have tons of appointments with students outside of class. Also, teachers can help you tailor the specifics of what you want to study. You may even get the chance to create your own major program. Not only can they help you in school, they might be the key to your opportunities outside of school. They may have those real world connections that will get you that internship or job that you want.
Small colleges mean smaller classes. While attending a big university, I was in a class with close to 40 people total. Where I attend now, I haven’t had a class bigger than 20. By cutting that number in half, I am able to have deeper discussions with my fellow peers and teacher. There is a real connection with a smaller class, especially when you have to do group assignments. It’s also easier to get to know your classmates and make life long friends. Those students just might be your other key to possible options in the real world.
With a smaller college, there is less campus to navigate through. At big universities, it could take up to 10-15 minutes to make it to the next class. At small colleges, there are fewer buildings that are closer in distance. Some small colleges and technical schools have as little as one or two buildings.
Like Cheers, you can have a place “where everybody knows your name”. Academic advisors can help you pick the right classes because they know more about you. The staff and faculty are also a more close knit family. This can be beneficial when a conflict comes up and different departments of the school need to communicate with one another.
Smaller colleges are easier for those who are a little shy. A big boisterous campus can leave those who are a little more introverted behind. I wasn’t the most outgoing person. I had the hardest time making friends my freshman year at a big university. I stayed at the university for a year, realizing that a large campus was not for me. I found my voice in a smaller college.
When looking at a smaller college, don’t think of it as “small”. Think of it as a place with bigger opportunities, more face time with teachers, and getting to know each student better. There is nothing small about a small college.