Big vs. Small When it Comes to Choosing a University By Stacey Marone

A photo by JOHN TOWNER. finishing high school, your primary concern is usually getting into college. Of course, you want to enter a college where you would be most comfortable to learn effectively, maximize your potential, and have an enjoyable and productive stay.

Your initial considerations can include geographical location, financial constraints, cultural diversity, and academic programs. With all of these factors in mind as the prospective student, you want to be in a university where you fit in. To begin a self-assessment, picture yourself walking into a dining hall, and ask yourself, “Do I want everyone in this room to know me?”

A college’s size depends on its student population. Small colleges have around 2,000 or less students. Bigger colleges accommodate more than 30,000 students.

If picturing yourself in the school dining hall is not enough to help you decide, here is a rundown of several factors you can review and examine.

Class Size

Remember, you are going to college to study and learn. So, class size is a big deal to consider when deciding which college you should go to.

As one would expect, smaller colleges have smaller class sizes, while bigger universities have lecture halls for bigger classes. In a large classroom, you would find yourself with a hundred or so classmates, with teaching assistants helping in facilitating discussions.

You can’t expect your questions on the subject topic to be entertained all the time, since you will be sharing your professor’s attention with a lot of other students. On the other hand, smaller class sizes have a more intimate set-up, with greater class interaction.

Academic Courses and Programs

Perhaps due to the large number of their student populaces, bigger universities have a wider range of academic courses and programs to offer.

Students can choose from several majors, minors, and concentrations across many disciplines, which they can take advantage of to determine which academic track they would really want to pursue. Another plus for bigger universities is the option of a law school or medical school attached to the main campus for students keen on taking up the respective programs.

As for smaller colleges, what they lack in the variety of academic courses, they make up for with individual guidance of their students. Professors can personally attend to their students, and work with them more closely with their academic requirements. Such relationship between professors and students also foster a strong advising system that can develop a specifically-designed curriculum for the student.

Academic Resources

Larger learning institutions have more academic resources to cater to the needs of their students. They also tend to have state-of-the-art libraries and research facilities, especially if they accommodate graduate students working on their dissertations.

Another feature of bigger universities is their distinguished faculty, resource speakers, panels, and essay scholar advisors. Bigger universities may also offer more academic events like forums, conferences, immersion, internships, and student exchange programs.

However, this is not to say that small colleges do not offer the same. They do, but it may be fewer and limited than those offered in huge universities. Students in small colleges can also use electronic databases of academic books and journals for their studies.

Extracurricular activities

College life is more enjoyable when you have extracurricular activities. Plus, you get the opportunity to hone your other skills and talents through activities outside your course program.

Larger colleges have the advantage of offering a variety of extracurricular activities since they have a more diverse selection of students. Say, for instance, you are inclined to join a music club, and you play the saxophone. There is a higher possibility that you will find a group of sax players in a larger university than in a smaller one.

In small colleges, students can still have extracurricular activities, but there might be lesser specific areas of interest. You don’t have to worry though, the quality of the experience is not compromised.

If you are particular about sports though, larger universities have a livelier sports scene compared to that of smaller colleges. The former have high-profile games and pep rallies, while the latter offers the same in a more communal-scale.

Social Life

Of course, your college life would not be complete without any newfound friends to go out with on a Friday night. Let’s be honest: you look forward to attending parties because it adds to the fun of college life!

Earning friends might be easier in a small college as you might find yourself knowing the majority of the student population. You would probably say hi to a familiar face now and them in every corner of your college. Student interactions are also likely due to the small student body, which allows for students to get to know each other better, and form connections.

While bigger universities may mean less probability of meeting everyone in your school, having friends is not unlikely. In fact, you will gain friends, whether you are in a small college or in a huge university, depending on how you approach a person and nurture a friendship with them.

Deciding where you go for college is entirely up to you–your personality, your interests, and your preference. If needed, you can visit your prospective school, and find out whether it suits you or not.