When you think about deciding on which colleges may be right for you, one of the top and clear decisions to consider is how large a school will you want to attend. There are many factors that you need to consider when deciding this and there are times that a variety of sizes may work for you. The size of colleges is typically broken down as follows: small (less than 3,000-4,000 students), mid-size (between 5,000-10,000 students), large (10,000-15,000 students) or extra-large, (15,000+ students, which can be upwards of 35,000+ undergraduate students at the largest of schools). Please know that the size of a school is neither good nor bad, just different, and being honest and recognizing what is best for you is paramount. The information below can help you consider all your options so you can make an informed decision.
Questions to Help You Determine What Size School May Work Best For You
• How do you learn best? Do you enjoy and flourish when you have access to your professors? Do you enjoy discussion in the classroom with your teachers and other students?
• Can you pay attention and be engaged if you are in a lecture hall with 200+ students, sometimes with as many as 600+ students with some of the largest schools or do you prefer to be in a class of 25 students or less?
• Do you want to be on a campus where you will most likely take busses to get from one side of campus to another or that may take upwards of 30-40 minutes to walk this distance, or would you prefer a more condensed and intimate campus where you can get from one side of campus to another within a few minutes?
• Would you be OK with taking some of your exams in a testing center with hundreds of other students vs. in your classroom?
• Do you want that big school spirit feel where tens of thousands of students attend sporting events?
• What is the average class size for the school’s general education courses (introductory courses such as English 101, Psych 101…etc.) and in general for the school? Do they have a maximum number of students that can be in any one class?
• What is the student to faculty ratio of the school? This does not mean the number of students in a class, but rather the total faculty (which includes non-teaching faculty) to the total number of students. When you have a student to faculty ratio upwards of 20+ your accessibility to your professors can become more difficult.
• Will you be taught by teaching assistants for any of your courses or only by professors?
• What kind of academic support does this school provide? Are there only peer tutors available or are there professional tutors available as well?
• What services does the career center provide? How many advisers are available to assist with internships and jobs when graduating?
• What organizations are available? Is there a wide enough variety to which you will have access?
• Do you want to meet many different kinds of people from varying backgrounds or have a more homogenous group of students?
• Are you looking to take classes with your close friends or have a changing group of students that you attend classes with?
• Are you looking for that personal attention, assistance with selecting your courses, and other school-related tasks?
Consider All Things Related to the Size of a School
Some advice I would give after working with over 600 families on college choice is to be sure to consider all pieces of this equation, not just that you want to have a school that has lots of school spirit and is a huge football school. You need to consider how you will feel academically in sometimes very large classes and how accessible and what kind of relationships you not only would like but need, to be successful for your college career.
Being Large Does Not Make a College More Social
In addition, some may think that being at a large school provides a much greater social environment than a smaller one, but that may not be the case. A smaller school is more intimate and at times at a larger school you may just feel like a number and if you don’t put yourself out there you may find yourself sitting in your room waiting for the world to come to you.
I strongly recommend that you take everything related to the size of a college into consideration when making this very important decision so you can meet your needs socially, emotionally, and academically.
Looking for help with the college selection process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications, and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation, and final school selection.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.
Looking for help with the college search and selection process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.
Contact us at email@example.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone and by email.