High school seniors planning to go to college often tend to think that going to a big, name school (e.g. Ohio State, UCLA, Penn State, etc.) is the best place for them. So, they duly file applications for admission to the freshman class of those mega-universities. Naturally, they are often enamored of the schools because of their prowess in either football, basketball, or some other sport). However, the thing which the seniors should keep uppermost in their minds is that they’re going to college to learn academic subject matter, not necessarily to become cheering sports fans.
While studying academic subjects such as biology, English literature,chemistry, Russian, history, etc. are indeed important, they are not the only things students will be learning while away at college. Although they won’t be taking classes in such things as (1) how to get along with others, (2) reading body language, (3) cultivating leadership skills, or (4) learning how to lose gracefully, those facets of their education are no less important than the academic studies which will dominate their college years.
Given those considerations, more students should choose to complete their undergraduate studies at small colleges. Small colleges have their advantages. Not only do such schools offer smaller class sizes (which means more individual attention for students from their professors), they also provide a more congenial environment in which students can get to know each other.
In many ways, what students learn outside of the classroom is just as important to them in their adult lives as what they covered inside the classroom. Unfortunately, at the mega-universities, only at the graduate level do students tends to get the same level of attention and care from their professors as students at smaller schools do. Usually in the mega-university setting, freshmen are herded together in large (numbering in the hundreds of students) introductory classes (where most of the work tends to be done by graduate students serving as teaching assistants).
Smaller schools, in contrast, offer many classes early on in a student’s college career with are far smaller in size. In those classes, professors actually know the name of their students, are able to track more carefully a student’s understanding of the material, and provide more personal attention to students’ needs.
For many entering college freshmen, making the transition from teenager to adult, that type of shepherding can be very beneficial. As a result, many smaller schools, especially those geared towards the liberal arts, continue to be exist and thrive. They offer a model of education which spares students the anonymity and obscurity which buffets their counterparts all too often at the big, name schools.
Where students learn is as important as what they learn. For that reason, more graduating seniors should consider going to a small college as they begin their undergraduate studies.