Small College Advantages

  • Small class sizes encourage active participation.
  • Professors are focused on teaching.
  • Small colleges have a strong sense of community.
  • Students have more opportunities to interact with professors and administrators.
  • You will be a person instead of a statistic.

When it comes to choosing a college, bigger is not always better. Many students find that attending a small college offers them the opportunities and resources that they need to excel. If you are weighing your options, consider these five advantages of furthering your education at a small college.

1. Small class sizes encourage active participation.

Attending a class at a large university often means taking a seat in a massive lecture hall with hundreds of classmates. Small colleges offer a different experience. Classes rarely have more than 50 students, so it is easier to ask questions, share comments and join in class discussions. Since the professor has fewer assignments to grade and respond to, you are also likely to get more feedback on any work that you turn in. While students in large classes are often restricted to the role of spectator, students in small classes can be active participants.

2. Professors are focused on teaching.

As U.S. News and World Report points out, the concept of “publish or perish” is a guiding force for the professors at many large universities. In order to survive and win professional promotions, research has to be their first priority. In contrast, smaller schools often use the quality of a professor’s work in the classroom to determine matters of advancement. This difference in culture allows professors at small colleges to focus on teaching, which can mean a richer, more rewarding experience for their students.

3. Small colleges have a strong sense of community.

Sometimes, you can feel alone in the middle of crowd. That sensation is less likely to be a problem on a small campus because they tend to foster a sense of community. With fewer faces in the crowd, it is easier to get to know your fellow students and develop friendships. Small colleges also offer a multitude of extra-curricular activities, and these activities are normally open to anyone who wants to participate. While small colleges may not be able to offer the same extensive array of activities and resources that larger schools can, there tends to be less competition for the offerings that are available, so it is easier for students to explore new activities and experiment with different possibilities.

4. Students have more opportunities to interact with professors and administrators.

In a huge school, the sheer number of students can be overwhelming. Crowds and long lines are the norm, and professors and administrators are inevitably forced to put quantity over quality at times. At a small college, the staff serves a smaller student body, so they can devote more time to each student. This translates into more interaction and more in-depth attention both in and out of the classroom. Whether it’s asking a question in class, seeking clarification regarding an assignment, getting thoughtful input from an adviser or making connections that assist in the transition from the classroom to the professional world, the level of personal attention available at a small college can make the experience a smoother, more fruitful one.

5. You will be a person instead of a statistic.

Numbers matter to colleges because statistics like acceptance and graduation rates, class sizes, and professor-to-student ratios influence the decisions of prospective students and their parents. However, the level of personal interaction at a small college ensures that students are seen as individuals rather than numbers. With a smaller student body and smaller classes, professors and advisers are better able to get to know their students, so they tend to be more invested in their individual success. They also have more room to be flexible, which means classes and programs can often be tailored to better fit the needs of students.

Small colleges may not be the right choice for every student, but they do offer significant advantages. Prospective college students should think carefully before deciding which type of school best suits their unique needs.

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