Why Should I Choose a Small College Over a Large University?

When many high school students think about college, they think of the larger campuses that they see on television and in films, but there are some major advantages of choosing a small college over large university. Those larger campuses may have more courses available and more recognizable professors, but you're just a small fish in a big pond. You may have a harder time making friends, finding the type of classes you want to take and even getting the help that you need. If you're on the fence about the type of college to attend, take a look at some of the benefits that small schools have to offer.

Unique Majors

Many students enter college without choosing a major ahead of time, and even those who do select a major may change their minds in the future. Larger schools often offer the traditional majors that you expect like history, mathematics, science, psychology or social work. While smaller schools may offer some of those same majors, many offer unusual or unique majors too. You might major in feminist studies, Asian culture or bioengineering. Some small campuses also give students the chance to create their own majors. After taking all the general education requirements, you can select other courses to take and design a major around your future goals.

More Opportunities

You might like the idea of attending a larger school because you want to go to sports games, hit frat parties and take part in fun extracurricular activities. Choosing a small college over large university though may give you access to even more opportunities that let you have fun and make new friends. These campuses are often home to smaller dormitories that let you get to know your neighbors at parties and other events. If the school doesn't offer an activity or club that you like, you may even have the chance to form your own group.

Financial Assistance

You might think that larger colleges offer more financial assistance because those schools have more money. Smaller colleges often more financial aid packages than their larger counterparts do. These colleges often award scholarships to students who have a high amount of financial need, and you might get a scholarship that pays for your total tuition. These schools can also help you qualify for federal grants and loans after you complete the FAFSA, but smaller schools can award you free money in the form of scholarships too.

Resource: 50 Best Deals on Competitive Small Colleges

Smaller Classes

According to U.S. News & World Report journalists Jeremy S. Hyman and Lynn F. Jacobs, smaller classes are a big benefit of attending a small school. When choosing a small college over large university, you need to look at the average class size. A large state college might have 500 students taking the same lecture every week. Smaller colleges might have class sizes ranging from 10 to 30 students. The smaller your classes are, the more you can focus on the materials presented to you. Hyman and Jacobs point out that many smaller campuses have class sizes of just 20 or fewer students.

Choosing a small campus can make you feel like a big fish in a small pond. When you choose a small college over large university, you'll have more opportunities to make new friends, get more financial help, have access to more unique majors and enjoy smaller classes.