Don’t let the small college label fool you; there are big merits to attending a small college! The truth is, bigger isn’t always better, and sometimes it takes a little research to realize the best fit for you. It’s easy want to attend a larger university-- your friends are going there, your parents went there, or maybe you’ve wanted to go there your whole life! Jumping on the bandwagon is easy. Although it’s a little extra work, it’s best to ask yourself a few more questions and do a little more research in order to make the best decision for you and your academic career.
One question to ask yourself is: What setting do I work best in? Do I work better in smaller classes where I could get more personalized attention and have more academic freedom? Or would I work best alongside hundreds of other students in the lecture hall? It all boils down to preference. Whether small or large, most institutions have valuable things to offer. I will touch on a few advantages of small institutions:
A smaller class size = greater faculty attention
In a large public university, you would likely find yourself taking multiple lecture classes, with upwards of about a hundred people. The chances of the professor knowing your name, your writing skills, how you have improved over the semester or your perfect attendance are slim. On the other hand, smaller colleges have a more narrow student-to faculty ratio -- meaning the professor would most likely know your name, your skills and be able to provide as much help as he or she can give you.
In fact, one study done on achievement and class size found that as class size decreases, achievement increases. A significant part of this research suggests that the more individualized attention the students receive, the more likely they are to excel. Not only does a smaller class size offer greater faculty attention, it makes it easier to meet other people in the classroom. Who knows, you could meet your new best friend in that 10-person history class!
You’ll get to know your professors
With a small student to professor ratio, relationships between students and professors can start in the classroom. Your professor will quickly learn your name and you’ll probably have many in-class discussions. This will make it easier to talk to your professor outside of the classroom.
The value of getting to know your professors is limitless. Professors are a great resource for future jobs because of their professional experience and the connections they have obtained because of it. The most valuable thing, though, is the mentorship they can offer you. They have “been there and done that.” So now you have a more than helpful friendship, access to a valuable network, and maybe a letter or two of recommendation when you apply to a job or graduate school. A recommendation from a college professor is a lot more impressive than a recycled one from your old high school gym teacher!
A better shot at scholarship money and a greater opportunity for financial guidance
Small institutions in Wisconsin, in particular, are very generous with their financial aid. In fact, the average financial aid package from one of Wisconsin’s private colleges is made up of over 75% grants-- money you don’t ever have to repay!
There are countless options for financial aid, whether in the form of loans, scholarships, or grant money. Because the student body is less at a small institution, you have a greater chance of being recognized and awarded for the things you do well. A small institution may also give you a greater opportunity to seek financial guidance. There may be a greater availability of faculty to meet with you and offer you the advice you need to get through college without the excessive, unneeded debt.
Great community feel
Colleges with a small student body make it easy to find your home away from home. You’ll make friends quickly, you’ll meet their friends, and pretty soon it will feel like you know the whole student body! You’ll run into people you know in the dining hall, the classroom, or in the coffee shop across the street, whereas at a larger school it’s easy to be on campus for a whole day without seeing anyone you know.
Don’t rule out a small college just because it may not have the popular appeal of a big university. Small schools have a lot to offer, both in and out of the classroom. Check out some smaller colleges, and soon you could find an excellent place to call home!
For more information regarding the benefits of attending a small institution, talk to an admissions counselor by clicking the link below!