Graduating from high school is an exciting time in a young person’s life, and for many kids this marks a transitional moment to attending university. But while options for large and prestigious universities abound, many students on their way to higher education often overlook smaller liberal arts colleges. This is a shame, because these colleges are oftentimes the perfect fit for certain students.
While on paper smaller universities may not offer the prestige and programs of a larger more established institution, after a closer look many benefits of these smaller universities become clear. Here are just a few reasons potential university students shouldn’t dismiss small liberal arts colleges out of hand.
SMALLER CLASS SIZES
When many people think of university, they think of prestigious lecture halls filled to capacity with eager young minds. And while this is certainly a romantic notion, a giant hall packed with 500 or so students isn’t always advantageous as far as learning is concerned. Not only that, but the sheer size of some of these classes at large universities can be intimidating to the student. Not only do smaller class sizes of 15-20 students help put new arrivals, such as freshmen, at ease, they also allow for more direct interaction with the professor.
Students in smaller classes can receive direct feedback quickly as well as personal, one-on-one attention. Also, studies have shown that the absenteeism rate in classes with over 20 students is higher than those classes of 20 students or less. The end result is that more often than not students in smaller classes show greater learning gains over students in larger classes.
A FOCUS ON UNDERGRADUATES
Oftentimes the faculty at larger universities are more focused on outside interests such as research and publishing. And while many professors at smaller liberal arts universities also share these extracurricular interests, their primary focus remains on the teaching. This commitment to teaching above all else is ideal for undergraduates who want constructive feedback regarding their assignments will find that professors at smaller universities are much more accessible.
Some may view the lack of extensive graduate programs at many liberal arts universities as a negative. But it’s precisely because undergraduates don’t have to compete with post-graduates for staff and faculty attention. This personal attention oftentimes leads to mentorship, which can result in professors writing letters of recommendation for internships and/or graduate programs.
A COMMUNAL ATMOSPHERE
As mentioned above, students at smaller universities often receive more personal attention from staff and faculty. But because class sizes are smaller, this allows students to form core relationships with other students more easily than in other larger universities. The end result is that the landscape of small liberal is filled with close groups of students working together towards a common goal. Often you’ll see these groups sharing meals in the cafeteria with professors and other faculty whom they know on more than a first-name basis.
So when weighing university options, it’s important to buck the conventional thinking that bigger is always better and look at what smaller liberal arts colleges have to offer. By taking into account the benefits offered by a smaller campus, university-bound students may just find an unlikely perfect fit for their particular academic and social needs.
Author Byline: Paul Stephen writes from Nipissing University. Our psychology degree programs benefit students with an extensive list of psychology courses to choose from, many involving laboratory or practicum components. Nipissing’s small class sizes work to our student’s advantage.