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Choosing Your Ideal College Size

Small, medium or large - the size of a college should definitely factor into your decision.

Laura Magerkurth

December 01, 2014

Choosing Your Ideal College Size
When I was in the process of choosing a college three years ago, the size of the school was definitely a factor that went into my decision. Having attended a large high school with nearly five hundred students in my graduating class, I knew that I wanted a college experience that was a little more intimate. Truman State, where I attend, has about 6,000 students total, so it’s a pretty small public university. The things that I enjoy the most about going to a smaller school are simple. The campus is fairly small, so I never have to walk more than ten or fifteen minutes to get to class. Because I’m in a major that is also a pretty intimate group of people—there are roughly forty students in my class of communication disorders majors—it’s easy to get friendly with everyone and by this point in my education, I know just about everybody by name. Another, even more positive aspect of choosing a smaller school is the intimacy of many of the classes. The largest classes I've ever had topped out at about 80 students, and those were gen ed courses, ones that everyone had to take at some point in their college career. Usually, my classes top out at about twenty-five or thirty people, and many have even fewer.

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Smaller classes mean that, if you need more attention or help with something, you’ll be able to get in touch with your professors more readily and get whatever you need with little trouble at all. Furthermore, actual professors, not teaching assistants or graduate students, have taught all of my classes. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a TA or grad student teach a class, but you have to admit that it’s a little bit of a disadvantage.

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There are some disadvantages to attending a smaller university. For instance, if you’re a student athlete or if you’re big into school spirit, you might find that the majority of the student body doesn't share your game-day enthusiasm. This may be especially true if you go to a more academically prestigious school, or one that is well-known for its music and art programs. While the campus community is fairly close-knit, the collective student consciousness might not be geared towards an interest that you share. You might also find that smaller schools offer less in the way of fun programming for the students, including speakers, performers, and movie nights. This isn't necessarily true all the way around, of course; Truman is great about bringing entertainers to campus a couple of times a semester, and there are usually smaller events put on by student organizations. On a super tiny campus—like some private schools that have 1,000 students or so—you may find it difficult to find a niche where you fit in completely, and you may also feel that others are more involved in each other’s lives than you would prefer.

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Whether you choose a university that has a student body made up of tens of thousands of students, or one that has an intimate atmosphere, hopefully you’ll find a spot that feels like it was designed just for you.

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