What Are the Advantages to Attending a Small College?

When you decide to further your education, you have the option of attending a small college or a larger school. Though many students decide that attending a larger university is the best option for them, you may find that the benefits of a smaller campus appeal to you. Smaller campuses give you the individualized treatment that you want. You’ll face less competition when it comes to obtaining financial aid and less competition when enrolling in classes. Consider the benefits of a smaller campus carefully before deciding whether to attend a larger or smaller college.

More Financial Aid

One benefit of attending a smaller campus is that you might get more financial aid. Most colleges offer financial aid from the federal government in the form of student loans and grants, but the schools also offer scholarships, work study programs and even assistant programs for graduate students. The fewer students there are attending your school, the less competition you face when applying for those types of aid. You may even find that the college has scholarships that no one applies for simply because there are too many. Check with the financial aid department of the college before you enroll.

Individual Programs

When you attend a larger school, the school will typically have a series of set paths that all students follow. After declaring your major, you will take some general education requirements, a few electives and courses relating to your major. Those schools usually give you little in the way of flexibility or freedom. Smaller colleges offer more options for students. You may have the chance to build an individual degree program that is specifically tailored to your interests. You will also have the opportunity to work with your adviser to ensure you take all the classes you need to take to graduate.

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Smaller Class Sizes

Are you the type of person who does better in smaller groups? If so, you may find that you cannot flourish on a larger campus. Freshmen classes often feature hundreds of students taking the same class in a large lecture hall. You may have a hard time forming relationships with other students or getting to know your instructors. Attending a small college lets you build great relationships with both professors and students. Instead of taking classes with hundreds of other students, you may have 30 or fewer other students in your classes.

Professors Over Assistants

According to Jeremy S. Hyman and Lynn F. Jacobs, one big advantage of attending a smaller school is that you’ll take classes from professors rather than their assistants. Larger schools often use teaching assistants to teach lower level and introductory classes, which may not give you the experience that you want. Bigger schools also use assistants to meet with students, lead study groups and grade assignments. Going to a smaller school usually means that you will take classes taught by a tenured or experienced professor with a higher degree and years of experience in the field.

Smaller campuses may have as little as 1,000 students, while a larger campus can have a population of more than 50,000 students. The fewer people there are on campus, the more you can get to know your fellow students and the professors teaching your classes. Smaller class sizes and more financial aid are some other benefits of attending a small college.