You’ve probably been well-briefed on the main differences between small schools, large schools, and medium-sized schools. Other than the obvious fact that they each have a vastly different-sized study body, the various factors that come along with them ultimately produce atmospheres that are simply better suited for certain personalities. The question is: how do you know which one fits your personality? The size alone may not be enough to answer that for you, so it is important to investigate the cultures and unique aspects these different types of colleges offer. Here is some great information on big schools vs. small schools that you may want to check out.
However, it is very possible that you could like the idea of a small school, but actually find yourself discontent with that kind of campus once you arrive. Or vice versa, you could very well hate the idea of a small school but then discover it does, in fact, match your needs. Better to figure this out in advance, right? Regardless of your immediate feelings on the subject or rumors you have heard about it, here are some reasons to take into consideration that would indicate a small school is a good place for you.
You’re on the shyer side: Although this may seem like a fairly obvious indicator, there is more reasoning to it than just avoiding intimidation by big crowds. No matter where you attend college, your journey is going to begin with a freshman orientation designed for you to mix and mingle with as many peers as possible. Being a freshman in general automatically gives you an advantage wherever you are to get to know these people easily and develop bonds quickly. But for those students who are more introverted and less confident about outwardly socializing with strangers, a small school gives them the opportunity to be a part of more close-knit communities within the overall one, giving them the opportunity to feel connected to an even smaller fraction of students before they are released into the complete group of incoming freshmen. For example, orientation groups will be divided into much smaller numbers of students than would be the case at a large school, dorm floors will each contain significantly lower numbers of residents, and dorms themselves will be much smaller than the overwhelmingly packed ones you would find elsewhere. Large schools split students up into these same communities within communities, but they do not have the luxury of making these communities as condensed as small schools are able to. Rather than throwing students into major meet-and-greets first thing that can leave a shy person feeling quite overwhelmed, small schools provide a way for you to feel like you’re already a part of a tight group before you enter those bigger mingling events so you can have an established support system beforehand. You may also want to check out this information on colleges with small class sizes as well.
You want a close relationship with your advisor: The bigger the school, the bigger the challenge you face when trying to create a familiar rapport with a faculty member. Advisors in particular are integral parts to managing your academic experience and quite important to the stability of your path to graduation. They will be able to help you at any school regardless of size, but if you really want to get to know this person and are hoping they will become someone you can frequently go to without having to remind them or your class history every time, you’re going to have better luck at a small school. In accordance with the tinier student body, each program/major will be more of a close community as well. You will become familiar with much more of your fellow classmates in this program than you would at a large school and your advisor will likely be the same person every time you visit the advising office. Sometimes, schools have too many students in each program to assign just one advisor to all of them, so it is a huge perk to be able to work with the same person consistently every semester. Even if this small school has two or three advisors for your program, you are still more likely to be recognized by them since you are amongst a smaller crowd of students who are coming to them so regularly. Subsequently, getting on a first-name basis with these people will be an easier feat.
You hate buses and/or get lost easily: This may seem like another give-in, yet it is truly something to think about. If this is an issue for you, you must think hard about how often it will play into effect if you attend a large school. Missing a class because you misunderstood the bus route or just got turned around walking through the east side of campus is not something you want to experience often. At a small school, your campus can be pretty easily figured out by glancing at a map and the limited paths you can take to get to various buildings will become engrained in your mind very quickly. With every dorm, class, restaurant, and entertainment venue located within walking distance of each other, you’ll feel much more relaxed if you do get lost at some point early on because the next turn you make will probably get you back to a familiar point, rather than a completely different side of campus. Plus, you’ll be incredibly thankful if you’re ever running late and can just run to your designated location rather than searching for your car keys or waiting for a bus.
You like the “small town” feel: When you’re on a small campus, you’re essentially living in a small town. You will know mostly everyone and mostly everyone will know you. The latest news and gossip will circulate quickly and even if you’re by yourself, you’ll rarely feel left out of this strongly connected community. Most college campuses tend to have that comforting feeling of connection, but a small school’s comforting vibe is always prominent, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Inside jokes about the campus and new endeavors the school is undertaking will be quickly talked about and bonded over between you and your peers, whether you’re in class with people you never hang out with or in your dorm lounge with people you see every single morning. Small schools make it easy for everyone to be heard and know they’re on the same page with each other, regardless of what’s going on with everyone personally. If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a place where everyone knows your name and there are little to no secrets, a small campus will fit you well.
Answer a few questions about yourself to determine whether or not these reasons apply to you. If they do, you may want to take a closer look into the world of the small campus. Figure out what is right for your personality and habits instead of just blindly following brochures. A plethora of things can be positive, but that doesn’t always mean they are specifically good for you. You may also want to check out these top 4 reasons to attend a big school as well!