The big colleges and universities are very tempting to a young student. These are schools with large athletic programs, recruiting programs, and lots of word-of-mouth advertising. Small colleges, on the other hand, aren’t considered nearly as often. This article looks at five benefits of attending a smaller college. Maybe it’ll broaden your prospective college list to include places that match the definition of “small,” being one that has less than five thousand students. Some of the benefits, as discussed below, are small class sizes, more paper-writing, individualized time with professors, a tither community, and the feeling that you matter. Sure, they don’t have everything that bigger schools have, but as you’ll read, they have a lot to offer!
1. Smaller Classes
You enter the classroom ready to make friends with your professor and classmates, only to find an auditorium filled with hundreds of students and a frazzled graduate student who is barely a speck in the distance at the front. The “professor” lectures on and on with no pause, just trying to get all the information into your heads. There’s no time for icebreaker games, individual questions, or in-depth discussions about the material at hand. Enter a classroom at a small college, however, and you’ll gain a very different experience. First of all, since small colleges don’t have graduate schools, all the professors are actual professors, not inexperienced graduate students. Secondly, small college professors often take the first day to play icebreaker games so everyone gets to know names and a little about their professor and fellow students. Thirdly, most of your classes will have less than twenty-five students in them, allowing for intimate discussions, friendship-making, and collaborative projects.
2. You’ll get to write more papers
The first thing to go when a professor has hundreds of students is the tedious process of grading papers, so expect to write less in a large college setting. However, one of the benefits of a small college setting is that professors can take the time to proofread and properly give feedback on papers, offering constructive criticism on how to improve your writing and research skills. Today’s careers are filled with writing: research papers, articles for your company’s newsletter, e-mails and memos, and much more. According to Katherine Hansen’s article, Writing Skills, More Important Than Ever on the Job, “two-thirds of salaried workers in large U.S. companies have jobs that require writing.” Writing is, more than ever before, an essential part of the majority of careers, and the truth is that the more you write, the better you’ll get at it. Thus, students at smaller colleges will get more opportunities to become better employees and will be more likely to get better jobs.
3. One-on-one time with professor
How can one individual get to know the individual interests and needs of two to three hundred students? The answer is they cannot. If you want to know your professor and have a professor who knows you, you need to attend a small college. There, the professors will say hello to you as they pass you in the hall, speak with you for longer periods of time in their office hours (since there are fewer students to take up their time), and can get to know you as a person rather than just another face in the crowd. Knowing you well will lead to better advice on your personal goals and future endeavors, as well as better letters of recommendation because the professor will actually know what to write. If you have a disability, too, your professor will be more able to accommodate you with specialized instructional experiences. For example, one student at a small community college who was blind asked her psychology professor how she could learn the parts of the brain. Because the psychology professor had a small class and ample time, she was able to sit down with the student and a hands-on model of the brain and point out the different lobes and features of the human’s thinking machine. This could never have happened at a large college; the professor simply wouldn’t have the time or understanding of the student’s needs.
4. Closer knit community
Like in a small town, the students and faculty at a small college will be able to learn your face and put a name to it. You’ll have friends everywhere you go that know not only who you are, but what extracurricular activities you participate in, where your next class is, and what time you eat lunch and with whom. This means you’re more likely to form lifelong friendships and relationships, leading to more networking and a happier life.
5. You’ll get the Feeling You Count
The last benefit of small colleges is a feeling, something not qute measurable. At large universities, it’s easy to find yourself feeling like just a number, one of a mass of people being pushed to go with the flow. At a small college, on the other hand, you get the feeling you really count. Every student can make a real difference in the community they live and study in, and individualized learning makes it possible for each student to find their niche in the community. While large colleges may make you feel like you’re only worth your tuition bill, small colleges help students feel like they really matter through individualized learning. Your future matters to the college, and it really shows.
Colleges with less than five thousand students are nothing to blink an eye at. You’re more likely to get individualized learning at these small colleges. Benefits of small college attendance include smaller classes, more writing opportunities, one-on-one attention from professors, a community that is closer-knit, and the feeling that you count for something. Hopefully, reading this article has convinced you to include some small colleges on your prospective attendance list. Take a tour, talk to the students, and maybe you’ll find yourself attending one in the fall.