OT Small College Vs Big College

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Dec 14, 2009
okay, so i applied to a ton of colleges(17 to be exact) and i have a range of different sizes too, ranging from 25 thousand students to 1500 students. i was wondering if you guys have a preference for a big school or a small school? i can't decide which one i like. are there pros and cons for each? any advice on this?
one thing to consider is class sizes... at a smaller college, you'll get a little more one on one time/help with your professors. at a big school, you'll be in huge lecture halls with a ton of people
It all depends on your needs. I started at a big college and most of my classes were in huge lecture halls with hundreds of students and I found myself struggling. After one year, I transferred to a smaller school and it was a much better learning environment for me. My grades improved drastically and I graduated with honors. Everybody learns differently so it all depends on what you prefer as your learning style. Good Luck :)
it is not true that a big school equals big lectures. you often have discussion classes where its around 25 people, and there are many times throughout the week where you can talk one and one with your professor. i go to a school with 40,000 people and feel like i am not just a number. its the effort that you put into it that matters.
I have gone to a large university before I transfered to a smaller one (still not tiny) and I never had classes that were that big except for 1 chem class. I had friends who would have large lectures of like 100 people, but that was like once a week and then the other days they had a class of about 25. Just because the enrollment is large doesn't mean that the professors are not going to know you by name and work with you. All of my professors by the end of the semester knew me by my name and not just some face in the crowd. Just like lolsmileyface said it is about the effort put into it. If you put the effort into getting to know your professors then a large university will be the same as a smaller one.

The key is to go to the school itself and check it out. Sometimes they will allow you to observe a class to get a feel for it. It differs from person to person. I myself prefer my first school, but the program I was in wasn't as good as the program I am in here at my smaller school.

Also remember that sometimes if you go to a smaller school, especially if it is one that a lot of people from your high school will go to, it might end up being like 4-5 more years of high school all over again.
I go to a big university (28,000ish enrolled) and I love all the opportunity it gives me. I have had classes with 20 people, and classes with about 300. All of my teachers were very approachable, and I never feel like "just a number" here. Plus I love going to an SEC school and sitting in the student section at football games with about 10,000 other students. The clubs, sororities/fraternities, and other groups on campus help make it feel not so huge. There are girls in my sorority from Texas, California, New York/New Jersey, pretty much all over.

It may not be for everyone. But I love my school. I feel like I would waste away at a small school. haha.
I'm not in college yet, but I applied to almost all "medium" sized schools (6000-12000). That way, everywhere I go, there will be both people I know and people I don't know.

Great in theory...but so was communism. We shall see.
I'm not in college yet, but I applied to almost all "medium" sized schools (6000-12000). That way, everywhere I go, there will be both people I know and people I don't know.

Great in theory...but so was communism. We shall see.

Not sure if it is because I just woke up, or because I had to stay up all night writing a paper over Communism, but this just made my day already.

I forgot to mention this in my above post, but a big big big thing to look into if you already know what you want to major in and are serious about it is to look at how good the programs are at the schools you applied to. Just because it is a bigger university does not mean that the program there is going to be better then the program at a small school. I would say apply, visit, then narrow down by ranking the programs.
I know that the reason I transfered to a smaller school wasn't because I hated the big school but because I would rather have my degree from a school who has a program that is going to get me a job faster then at the other school who's program is a joke.
I go to a small school with about 5,000 undergrad students and I absolutlely love it. I get to know a lot of people but I always find myself meeting someone new. All my classes are small and my largest might be about 40 students. I really get to know the teachers and they are always willing to help out. Even though it's a small school, I can always find something to do. Good Luck!:)
that communism comment made me laugh. haha.

and i agree with having to visit the schools.

my dad seems to think that bigger schools are better for networking or they offer students more opportunities. do you think this holds true? or can you find the same things at smaller schools too?
I started at a small school and then transferred to a larger one. I LOVE the school I'm at now, so I'm biased towards large schools. I started at a small school because I wanted to feel like I wasn't just a number and know most of the people at the school. However, at a small school, I found there was a lot less diversity so it was actually harder to find people you fit in with because everyone seemed the same. I'm sure this isn't how every small school is, but that's how mine was. I have a lot of huge classes at my current (large) school, but for the most part, professors want to get to know their students and give plenty of help if you need it, so I've had a problem with class sizes.

As for networking, I definitely found that I have more opportunities at the larger school. There's more alumni, so there's more people who you can connect with that way. The school also puts on massive career fairs that a lot of local businesses come out to, since they know there are tons of students who will soon be looking for jobs!

I've had a much better experience at a larger school, but there's nothing wrong with a small/medium sized school. I think it's most important to find the best fit for you. I think when you find the school that works for you, size doesn't matter so much.
i go to a pretty small school. the website says that including our 3 campuses there is a total of like 12,000 but at my campus there probably is about 6,000 (the other 2 campuses only have nursing programs). reading this thread is really making me hate my school. i thought i really liked it but this is making me realize how my school has NO school spirit. it used to be an all girl school but boys go there now but only like MAYBE ten percent..maybe. theres only girls sports, not boy sports. i just read online that we are a NCAA D2 school, but it feels like we have no sports teams because theyre only girls teams. on the weekends everyone goes home. theres not alot of diversity and i had a terrible time finding people that i fit in with. without the sorority i dont think i would still be at this school. while everyone else is going to root on their school's football team on saturdays im watching their teams on TV. its just not fun. I feel like thats what college is all about and i feel like im really not getting as good of an experience that i would at a big school. also my boyfriends school still not a big school, they only have like 15,000 students but they have a football team and cheer and dance and everything. he has a bunch of friends who cheer and dance there and it always makes me SO jealous im like i could totally be doing that if i went to a different school. but maybe my problem is not that its a small school, but that its a majority girls school. if they would change the name the population of guys there would skyrocket..seriously what guy wants to tell all of his friends he's going to Texas Woman's University...
my dad seems to think that bigger schools are better for networking or they offer students more opportunities. do you think this holds true? or can you find the same things at smaller schools too?

I think that this really depends on the University. There are smaller schools that still have the networking and things to do. That is something you can get a glimpse of by going for a visit or even spending a weekend there.

When I was at my large university I was in a sorority and involved all the time, it was great, but I also had friends who were not really involved at all with the school except for going to class. It depends if you take advantage of it.

Also many smaller schools tend to have a lot of commuter students that involve themselves with things off campus and around the community more.
Love this topic! :) I applied to 8 schools I believe..majority of them were gigantic like Central Florida, NC State, Clemson, and a few others. However, I actually ended up at a smaller, and relatively new University in Newport News, VA that is capped at 5,000. My top 2 came down to CNU-Christopher Newport University & UCF..you cannot compare the two at all! haha It really depends what you "want" out of college. Personally, I value a small class size where the professors know your name and are very approachable etc. I had one class with 12 students in it and it was the best class I have ever taken! I am also still involved with athletics and even as a freshman, I feel "a part" of the school. I also love being able to be max 10min walking distance from everywhere on campus!! :) I feel safe walking around at night on campus and the CNU campus is very close knit-we have a well-known courtesy policy which includes saying hi and holding doors for everyone :) Some people don't like this policy or don't like running into people they know every so often, therefore maybe a smaller school isn't to your liking.

In juxtapose, at UCF I most likely would not have been able to cheer..and I would have been just a number in the classroom and most likely in the student body as well. However, there are times I wish football games/school spirit were more intense etc. Although the campus is much bigger than CNU, I absolutely fell in love with it (in a different way). Anyways, my advice would be to visit each school and make a pro/con list about each. In your case since you applied to so many maybe make a list of your top 5-7 after you hear back and then visit those select schools before making a final decision. My school visits had a HUGE impact on my decision process..I actually did my visits prior to senior year and after visiting my "number 1 choice", I didn't even apply...visiting the school and feeling the vibe of a large/small campus will be very helpful!!

Good luck!!
Well, I go to Kent State (ohio) andd its a pretty big school. The student population is around 30,000 (including grad students) and the campus is enormous (ohh yea and we were just on the cover of the NY times i guess? becauseee our finals got cancelled due to snow and we have to stay longer treking acrossed the arctic)

Well Positives of this big campus:
- if you know someone from HS going here, you never have to see them or their friends
- you can miss class and your prof. will never notice, theres 699 other kids in your class
- theres something going on allll the time
- there is 10+ different dorms to choose from, and tons of dining locations to pick from
- that many students means alot of apartments off campus, creating its own little college town
- the cops are too overwelmed with the mass amount of students so they basically ignore things that you might do in college
- there is about 5million student organizations and you cant miss them because their flyers are everywhere!
- there is a huge career / internship center that offers a ton of help and networking

- if you need personal attention during class, its not going to happen; however, there is free tutoring in almost every class several times a week and most profs. have their own office hours where they will help you)
- its easy to get lost in a sea full of people, which ones do you fit in with when there are 30,000 to pick from
- ohh you get to schedule your classes as a freshman last... so you will be waking up at 6 am and treking across the arctic blizzard 2 miles away for your 745 class. sorry.
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