Usually, when one thinks of a college experience, it’s a big state school or a well-known university almost no one can get into. However, smaller universities, whether private, public, or religious, have so much to offer that you may want to consider them as well. In this article, I will touch on the perks of life at a small-sized university and how it may differ from a larger state school.
In a school with a smaller student population, classes tend to be a lot smaller too. I attended a small, religious university myself. My classes were often six people at most, and my professors knew me by name. If I did not show up to class, I would get called directly by the professor, or I might receive an email checking up on me while providing me with the missed materials. At many smaller universities, your professors become your advisers, simplifying processes such as scheduling classes or seeking advice. One of my professors for my major became one of the most influential people in my life away from home. Small schools can be a good option for students who want to have the feeling of belonging on campus.
One of the biggest advantages of a smaller university is the simplicity of navigating not just the campus but its offices. In one building on the same floor you might have access to the registrar’s office, business office, and financial aid office. At my university, if I needed to speak to the business office, I would walk in and turn left. If there was any issue that I needed to discuss with the financial aid office, I would simply turn around, take a few steps across, and get immediate help. This was very convenient, and I knew that I was not just a number. I was known by my name—no separate building or 20-minute walk. It was all there specifically to cater to the students’ needs.
Many smaller schools are not well known; however, their academics are often just as strong, if not stronger than, many big-name schools. This is because of the focused attention you receive. You are also provided with many more personalized experiences. Because the school has a small student population, professors involved with student-led organizations are able to participate more. Some examples of things I was able to get involved in include: becoming deputized, attending an annual Texas Women’s Conference, and traveling to take part in a Criminal Justice Conference in Houston with hotel, transportation, and food paid for. One way to find a small school with a strong program in your major is to look for which schools are being recognized for the work of their professors in publications. I remember professors at my school regularly announcing that their article had been published or journal piece recognized.
It’s important to research any university to learn more about their values and the atmosphere on campus. The most common elements of smaller universities’ mission statements are the value of serving others and having a positive environment. When I was a student searching for a university to attend, I really wanted to have a sense of home. A small, religious school might be for you if, like me, you were actively raised within a church community and prefer an atmosphere that is familiar to you. For those students who have a strong desire to attend a religious school, most of these will provide a daily religious service during lunch hours for those students who wish to attend. Other types of schools will provide activities focused on their own values. My own freshman year, I started in a living-learning community focused on volunteerism; other opportunities I took part in included being a part of the school’s ministry, the Providence Leadership Program, and Providence Retreat Outreach Program.
All in all, there are a lot of great qualities to take advantage of in a smaller-sized university. They often become more than a college experience but rather, an extension of home. If you’re interested in learning about your college options, contact your Right C3 coaches!