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College Search

The Case for a Small College

One of the most important considerations in choosing a college is the size of the student body.

Here’s the case for a small college.

A small college (which means a college of around 1,500 – 3,000 students or so) will give you a very different experience from that of a large university (of 10,000 plus students).

Going to a small college is like living in a small town versus a large city.

People say hello when they see you. 

Professors greet you by name and stop to chat.

The main responsibility of professors at small colleges is to teach and advise undergraduate students (at research universities the first duty is to research).  This can help create a really caring atmosphere.

Maybe anonymity sounds more appealing to you.

But consider…

… at a large university you might be able to go all semester without talking to your professors.

That may not make for the best educational experience. That’s because you’re likely to get more out of college when you’re engaged — interacting with professors and students, doing research, and being involved in campus life. At smaller colleges, this level of engagement is built into the system.

Since smaller colleges generally don’t have graduate students, courses are less likely to be taught by teaching assistants, and there are often more opportunities for students to collaborate with professors on research projects.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be engaged at large universities, but you’ll have to take the initiative to create that kind of experience. 

You may be thinking that since you haven’t yet decided on a major or career, you should go to a large university, where you’ll be able to sample lots of possibilities and figure out what you want to do. But even small colleges offer hundreds of classes each year. 

You might even find it easier to discover your passion at a smaller college, where you’ll get extensive advising from professors, who have chosen to teach at a small college because they really like teaching and interacting with undergraduates.

Still, you may be thinking that you want a college that’s bigger than your high school.

I get it, but keep in mind that every college is physically bigger than a high school.  There are buildings for art, music, social sciences, and natural sciences, there are residence and dining halls, a library, student union, athletic facilities, counseling offices, health services and more!

In short, a college campus doesn’t feel as confining as high school.

If you’re concerned you won’t find enough interesting people at a small college, be assured that there’s a-lot more diversity than in high school.  In a lot of cases, there will be students from different parts of the country, international students, and students from different ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

When it comes to extracurricular activities, there may actually be more opportunities to get involved at a small college, because there are fewer students competing to  write for activities.

While small colleges offer many benefits, they’re not for everyone.

You may thrive on the excitement of seeing thousands of people walking across campus every day.

You may know what you want and are assertive enough to pursue it. In that case, you’ll make the extra effort to get to know your professors during office hours and seek help when you need it. If you aren’t intimidated dealing with bureaucracy you can create a sense of community by getting involved in activities.

So,  there are some factors to keep in mind as you think about creating a list of colleges to apply to that will be a good fit for YOU!

Hope that helps!

~ Faith