Small vs. Big Schools: 5 Things To Consider For College

Small vs. Big Schools: 5 Things To Consider For College
Figure out where people hang out. Usually wherever people are, the action will be close by. (Source: Valdosta State University)

There are many factors you need to consider before you can begin narrowing down your college list, but one of the first considerations many young students make is school size.

Whether it be a large, research-based university or a small college, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Bigger is not always better, and smaller does not always equal more exclusive. What's best for you depends on your personality and your academic goals, and there are no wrong answers.

1. Class Size

Class sizes vary from institution to institution. At a larger university, you could be taking notes with hundreds of other students in a lecture hall or you could be sitting with a group of 20 at a smaller college. Smaller class sizes can mean more student participation, and they often help foster a deeper interaction between classmates and professors. Of course, both small and large universities offer lecture-style as well as small classroom-style interactions, but at larger universities, generally classes become smaller as you move further into your field of study. It's important to figure out what environment you learn best in, and base your decision off of that.

2. Professors

Both large and small universities have the ability to recruit world-renowned faculty members, but often at a larger university undergraduate students will have little to no contact with them. Instead, most of their classes will be taught by a teacher's assistant. At a smaller school, students are more likely to interact directly with their professors, and often the schools strive to foster mentoring relationships between the two.

3. Research Opportunities

In a larger, research-based university, securing your spot in the lab or on a research project can be nearly impossible during your years as an undergrad. At a smaller university, you're likely to find research opportunities, internships and co-ops available to students of all levels, so you're able to gain valuable experience even in the earliest stages of your college career.

4. Program Availability

Large universities will have a wide variety of classes and often will have a professional school, such as a Law school or Medical school, attached to it. Smaller universities may not offer as many programs, but there are other advantages, including a curriculum tailored to your needs, interests and career aspirations. Faculty and staff at a smaller university have the time available to support and encourage you through the process of designing your own college path.

5. Extracurricular Activities

Both large and small schools will have opportunities outside the classroom. If you're interested in a more obscure activity, you will likely be able to find it at a larger university. On the other hand, it can be much easier to break into an activity and really shine at a smaller institution. If you care about quality over quantity, then smaller schools will have what you need.

Although school size can have an impact on college life, every school is different and your personality, interests and choices will make your experience different from anyone else's.

While you're looking for your home away from home, consider Valdosta State University.

Valdosta State is the perfect, mid-sized university with more than 100 academic programs, 200+ student organizations, national championship athletics and a vibrant campus where you can truly make your mark.