According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 4, 197 colleges and universities in the United States (Fast Facts, 2002). This includes all schools, both public and private, that grant two and four year degrees. This is a huge number of schools to choose from…
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These are probably the primary things that most new college students think about. But there are more factors that need to be considered. One of these important factors is the size of the college. Aside from a school’s academic reputation, the size of the student body may play the largest role in establishing the characteristics of a college. School size tends to determine everything from class size to cost of tuition. Then there are post-graduation considerations such as the size of the alumni support system and career placement services. When choosing between going to a large college or a small college, it is important to compare them side by side in some very important categories. Starting with academic considerations, class size seems to be a big factor in some student’s preferences for a small college. Attending beginning classes for a new student can be intimidating. At large state colleges, general education classes are often scheduled during the first semester for incoming freshmen. The problem with this is these classes often have horrible teacher to student ratios. Three hundred students in an auditorium with one professor for Psych 101 is not an ideal situation for many college freshmen. This first year is time full of conflicting emotions and difficult adjustments. Unfortunately, large schools seem to think that this is the perfect time to put students in classes where they have little or no chance of getting individualized attention from a professor because there are so many students that need help. Smaller colleges have small class sizes for even general education classes. This fosters an atmosphere of learning and growing together. Easy access to professors ensures that more learning can take place and answers can be given to student questions in a timely manner. Small colleges and small class sizes provide better spaces to achieve academic growth and potential. Socially, smaller colleges offer a more intimate experience than large colleges. Big state funded schools tend to like spectacle and over-the-top extravaganzas. These can be truly entertaining at times. Homecoming parties, football tailgating and parades all mix with crazy fraternity and sorority fun at these schools on a grand scale. There is nothing wrong with having fun at school, but the type of fun and atmosphere that comes from it is different at a small school than it is at a large school. A small college gives the opportunity to do all of the things you can do at a large school on a smaller scale. There are plenty of parties, mixers and sporting events. What is not possible is to watch the football team play on ESPN for a national championship. But that doesn’t mean that sports are not important. If anything, the rivalries in sports like field hockey and rugby at smaller schools is even more intense than at large national schools because it is more personal. With small student populations, it is more likely that you actually know a person on the field that is competing in the event. They are more than some person you see on TV or on a poster in the school bookstore. They are more likely to be the person sitting next to you in English Composition class if you attend a small college. Another big difference between large schools and small colleges is the type of service you receive from administration. In a large school, each student is little more than a number. If there is any sort of problem that needs to be sorted out, going to the administration building can be a nightmare at
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