Big school, or small school? That's the question a lot of individuals face when choosing a college. And in the laundry list of factors that goes into choosing a college, size and type are often at the top in terms of importance. Here are the top five reasons to consider a small, liberal arts college or university…
5. Community. It's a rarity to walk anywhere on a smaller campus and not see someone you know. Sheer numbers are a big part of that, but so is the fact that everyone on campus seems to be involved in something. If you play a sport, write for the school newspaper, sing in the choir and work in the dining hall, you might be a student at one of these schools. Seems like a busy life, but the camaraderie is hard to beat at larger institutions.
4. Scholarships and financial aid. Sure, big, public universities may have a cheaper sticker price, but when it comes to the bottom line, small schools often surprise prospective students with their affordability. The combination of scholarships and need-based institutional aid, which typically isn't available at larger colleges, makes this possible.
3. Small classes taught by professors. Because graduate and doctoral programs are not as prevalent at smaller liberal arts schools, often times, graduate students and teaching assistants don't exist, and if they do, they're not in front of the classroom. Full-time faculty members are the ones teaching the undergraduate students, and it's almost always in a smaller setting. No 300-seat auditoriums here; you'll know your classmates and be able to interact with them in a more intimate classroom environment.
2. Grad schools and employers value it. As Lynn O'Shaughnessy put it in her 2010 article on cbsnews.com, “liberal arts colleges…teach kids how to think, talk and write,” and, while simple, that's exactly what employers are looking for. Furthermore, according to O'Shaughnessy's article, “liberal arts schools dominate the list of the top 10 institutions that produce the most students who ultimately earn doctorates.” Why is this? Graduate schools are looking for just the type of research opportunities students have at liberal arts colleges.
1. You know your professors, and they know you. While learning from professors in small classes is great, an even bigger benefit is actually getting to know your professors on a personal level and gaining hands-on experience right alongside them. The connections you make with those individuals become invaluable as you search for graduate schools and/or employment. They've all been out there in the field doing the work themselves, and now they're helping little ole you do the same.
Dave Floyd is an Admissions Counselor at Waynesburg University, whose travel territory includes Westmoreland County, Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northeast states. He is also a 2012 Waynesburg alumnus.