Choosing a college is a bit like choosing a car. There’s a plethora of options, but not all of them meet your needs. Your ideal vehicle is comfortable, functional, and within your budget. You’ll use similar criteria when deciding where to attend school.
Size is another important factor in selecting both a car and a college. Let’s look at common characteristics of both large and small schools, then see which one might be best for you based on your personality and goals.
What to Expect From a Large College
Massive stadiums packed with an ocean of cheering fans. Auditorium-style classrooms with hundreds of students. New faces, names, and events each day. A large school—typically one with over 15,000 students—is like a small city, with its own infrastructure, residences, and governing bodies.
These colleges tend to have more resources at their disposal, providing benefits like a larger selection of classes, higher-profile professors, and more extracurricular activities. Larger schools also tend to offer top-tier sports programs: just take a look at the crowd during matchups in conferences like the SEC or ACC, where some schools average over 100,000 attendees per game.
The biggest potential downside of attending a large school is that you’ll receive less personalized attention. You’re just one of thousands of other students that professors, advisors, and administrative staff have to deal with each day. If you have questions about dropping or enrolling in a class, for example, they might not be answered as quickly as they would at a smaller school.
What to Expect from a Small College
Many people associate small colleges with rural towns away from big population centers. This is a misconception: schools like Reed College and Manhattan College are located in big cities but only have a few thousand students. Some smaller schools are best known for programs in a specific field like liberal arts, technology, or education.
Smaller colleges have fewer students in classes and clubs, meaning you can form a long-term social circle with similar faces. You’ll also get more time with professors, with the opportunity to develop a more personal relationship with them than you might have at a larger university. This can be a big academic boost, depending on your learning style.
On the negative side, smaller schools have limited resources. They typically don’t offer as many extracurricular clubs or organizations as larger schools, and sometimes don’t have access to the sophisticated equipment and research facilities found at bigger colleges.
Choosing a College Size That Works for You
So which type of college is best? It depends.
If you identify with these attributes, a small college might be best:
- Prefer being in a smaller community with familiar faces
- Like to establish a close relationship with instructors
- Want or need extra attention from administrators and counselors
- Prefer to attend smaller classes
On the other hand, if you relate more to these characteristics, you might fit in better at a larger school:
- Enjoy meeting new people
- Don’t mind speaking up and being assertive about what you need
- Like having access to high-end facilities
- Want more extracurricular opportunities
At IPFW, you get the best of both worlds: the prestige and facilities of two nationally-recognized schools on a smaller campus where you’ll receive personalized attention. To learn more, download our Viewbook: