There’s an interesting debate when it comes to large universities versus small colleges. Many people have the decision to either go to a huge school with a huge athletic program and a lot of potential majors, or to attend a small liberal arts college, or a small, rural college that has only a few majors. I figured I’d give some advice to help the decision be slightly easier.
When going to a big college, there are many advantages. One is that there are many, many more majors available. There are also many more and different classes that students are able to take. If you are someone who has no clue what you want to major in, or what you want to do after graduation, then you should think about larger colleges. I know a variety of people who have changed majors, and who have started in something completely different than they finished in. At smaller colleges, while there are still a variety of majors, you may find yourself somewhat limited. For example, it’s hard to transfer to business school if your college has no business school.
Another advantage that big colleges have is the increased resources that are available to students. My school alone has over 13 libraries on campus. That’s a lot of resources! Some may also like the bigger atmosphere, the big-time sports program, or the various popular musicians who will do concerts at bigger schools.
Do be warned that in big colleges, class sizes can sometimes turn you into just a number. If you’re in a 300-person lecture, you’re not exactly going to get individual attention. Although, don’t think that you’ll just diminish into obscurity in a big university, because you’ll still have your core classes with a lot of the same people.
Small universities may be much better for others. One advantage of small colleges is that class sizes are subsequently much smaller. This can lead to a better relationship between professors and their students, and struggling students may be able to get more individualized help. Not to mention, that if you know what you want to study, and your small college excels in that field, then you should naturally consider going there. For writers, and many humanities majors, the small liberal arts colleges can be a haven for intellectual development and success.
While small universities won’t have big time athletic programs (why would anyone even go to Division III football games?), they often have some of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Many of the smallest colleges are somewhat remote and present well outside of big cities. Many students enjoy this type of atmosphere. Students may also enjoy the experience of a small, tight-knit community that develops in small universities. You may not know everyone, but you’ll see the same faces over and over again.
However, keep in mind that small universities may be considered “boring” by many. If the university isn’t in a huge city, but is rather way out in the countryside, then it may be much more difficult to go see a movie in theatres, or go to bars, or other “city” activities. If you can’t see yourself surviving without city entertainment, then you should definitely shy away from the small colleges. Small colleges also offer a more limited selection in terms of majors. So someone who wants to change majors many times and try a little of everything would do well to think about going to a larger school with more majors available. Resources may not be as good at small colleges, leading to more concerts with unknown acts instead of Justin Timberlake or something. Most people can do without the pop acts, but if you think you might be bored, you may want to again consider a larger university.
Whatever you decide, just make sure it’s an informed decision. I’ve talked about making sure to ask the right questions when you are thinking about colleges, but make sure you are planning ahead. Think about what interests you, where you want to go after college, and what you want out of your college experience. There’s no right or wrong decision when it comes to big colleges versus small colleges, it just comes down to what you think is right for you.