By Kristen Jugs
It’s the one word that’s exciting for some, scary for others: college.
Picture your perfect college. For some, images of ivy-covered walls and huge brick buildings surrounded by crowds of students come to mind. Others see themselves in a smaller setting, finding big universities too overwhelming.
There are so many variables for high schoolers to take into consideration when it comes to college planning. From Greek life to location, the choices are seemingly endless.
One of the biggest factors in the decision-making process is the size of the school and its student body. There are obvious advantages of each, as well as drawbacks.
Traditionally, bigger schools are known for their sports programs, as well as variety of options in seemingly every aspect of life, from classes to housing. Larger schools also offer research facilities to assist undecided students, and are usually full of excellent professors who have had a wide-range of experience in their field.
On the other hand, smaller schools offer smaller classes; in this way, students receive more one-on-one attention and are offered more specific majors. According to CollegeBoard.com, ” … smaller schools encourage students to explore areas outside their field of study.”
Both a student at UF and a graduate of Lehigh University (only about 4,000 undergraduates), Ted Geltner has seen advantages “to a degree” of each type of institution.
“To me, the biggest advantage (of a smaller school) is getting to know a good portion of the community… it seems like you’re less of a ‘number in the crowd’,” said Geltner. Nevertheless, he strongly believes that bigger schools are full of opportunities, possibly even more so than those of smaller ones ,“now that I’ve seen both.”
CollegeBoard.com says a student who wants to attend larger schools “need[s] to be a go-getter, who is not afraid to speak up, and take[s] advantages of the opportunities a big school has to offer.” Students can feel overshadowed at larger universities where every seat in the classroom is filled.
“My brother went to a big public state school and he ended up having to take online courses because he couldn’t get into the classes he had signed up for,” said Emily Ostrom, a 17-year-old prospective college student. “For me, being in a classroom with professors who can help on a personal level is really important.”
Even so, smaller schools have a more limited course selection available. Schools with smaller social scenes also tend to have cliques, which makes it difficult for students to meet people outside of their designated group.
All in all, the ultimate decision comes down to the university itself. College visits are the best way to get a feel for the school and all it offers. Though size is a major consideration, whether or not the school fits you personally is perhaps an ever bigger one.
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