When beginning the classic college search, one of the biggest distinctions between various schools that you’ll need to take into account is size, and it is no surprise that the size of a school often becomes a deciding factor when determining whether to apply to a certain college or not. If you’re trying to decide whether it would be a good idea for you to apply to small schools, consider these benefits of attending a small college:
1. Small college, small classes
Smaller classes allow for a greater amount of student participation and in-class discussion. Instead of sitting in a lecture hall of 200+ students, you might find yourself around a table with 15-20 of your peers actively discussing the week’s readings, debating critical issues, and learning from each other’s perspectives as much as from your professors’ teachings.
2. Low student-to-faculty ratio
In high school, you were most likely in classes no larger than 30 students, and you probably got to know your teachers pretty well. Small colleges also often have this same personalized feel with their low student-to-faculty ratios. At a small college, professors get to know their students by name, become interested in their goals both inside and outside of the classroom, and make themselves accessible through appointments, office hours, email, or even sometimes by phone. With a smaller amount of students to teach each semester, professors are able to invest a greater amount of time in each individual. In such an environment, it’s easier to form the kind of bonds with professors that could help you get a great recommendation for your next step – whether that step be your first job out of college or graduate school.
3. A more cohesive student body
Smaller colleges often have a host of traditions that work to bring the whole campus community together. While big universities have sports, small schools will unite over an outdoor international food festival, a spring celebration, or any number of other quirky, unique events that they claim as their own. But the community-feel garnered by small colleges goes beyond special occasions. With a small student body, it’s easier to get to know faces – and the people behind them!
4. Closer-knit networking opportunities
While there may not be nearly as many alumni at a college that graduates 400 students each year as compared to a university that graduates 10,000, alumni at small colleges tend to be particularly loyal to their own when it comes to jobs and internships. Alumni know the caliber of student that attends their alma mater, and often extend that on-campus camaraderie to their offices, trusting that a fellow alum will hold themselves to the standards of the institution that both parties know well.
5. It’s easier to get involved
Small colleges have no dearth of clubs and sports teams (both varsity and intramural), and a great majority of students are involved in student activities in some way. Small colleges report high amounts of student involvement, which means that the student organizations constantly welcome new members and encourage involvement from all members of the community – freshmen included!
Alumni of small colleges often report that they would never trade their college experiences for the stereotypical large university experience. If an emphasis on community, collaborative learning, and strong student-professor relationships is important to you, you may want to consider adding small colleges to that list of schools to which you plan on sending your application.