As the semester comes to a close, many students begin thinking about where they’ll be this time next year. Choosing where to go to college is a daunting task for any young person, for good reason. There’s a lot of pressure riding on getting in and figuring out how to pay tuition. Universities can seem scary and tricky to navigate, not to mention expensive. With all of this hanging over their heads, students may be unaware of the benefits of small colleges and universities. Here are five great reasons to choose a small school.
- You’re not just a face in the crowd.
In large universities, a student might struggle to be recognized, both by her peers and her instructors. Small schools, like Patrick Henry College, ensure that each student gets the individual attention he or she deserves. Additionally, small class sizes make it possible for instructors to tailor their lesson plans to each individual class.
- Your voice will be heard.
Small class sizes encourage students to participate. It’s easier to muster the courage to address a small group than a lecture hall of 300 people. A student’s words have the power to change the course of an entire lecture. Small classes turn into a tight knit “family,” with each member encouraging the others. Further, when instructors know you by name, they’re more likely to work with you when you have a problem with homework or class work.
- Professors are focused on teaching, not tenure.
Large universities are dominated by the idea of “publish or perish.” That means that professors who don’t focus on research are passed up for promotions. As a result, research becomes more important than teaching. At small schools, this isn’t the case. Instructors are there to teach, and promotions are related to their performance in the classroom. Small schools “make sure that their faculty is incentivized and motivated to teach well,” Berlinerblau said in the Market Watch interview. Berlinerblau advises a class size of 25 or less. Patrick Henry College is one small school that meets his suggestion with 2/3 of Patrick Henry College classes having under 20 students.
- Party culture is at a minimum.
When everyone already knows everyone, party culture slows to a crawl, and that’s not a bad thing. Small colleges don’t facilitate large, drunken gatherings because the students who choose them go there to learn, not to party. This leads to more intimate gatherings among friends or student social events hosted by school clubs. It’s still a great place to have fun and meet people, and it’s a safer environment to do so.
- Extracurriculars are more meaningful.
Small schools may not have the extracurricular offerings that large ones do, so it’s easier to be a part of the activities they do offer. If a school offers intercollegiate athletics, for example, there’s less competition, so more students will have the opportunity to make a team. Small schools may also have more intimate events, such as student clubs, intramural sports, and social activities. This allows students the opportunity to mingle and get involved with people they don’t know from class.
These are just a few of the benefits small colleges and universities can offer. Before you apply, make sure to take a tour of the school and talk to some current students. They’ll tell you all about why they love their small school.
Anne Baron is highly experienced educator, writer and copywriter specializing in academic research. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration with almost 25 years of experience in teaching and academic writing. She spent a dozen years managing a large college peer-tutoring program and another dozen years in the classroom teaching college students. She has since retired from teaching and devotes her time and efforts to freelance writing for institutions, businesses and colleges like Patrick Henry College.