Before you start designing your soon-to-be cozy dorm room or start figuring out how to maximize your small closet space at school, you need to figure out what college you’ll be attending. Making the decision on which college to attend is a huge decision and one you should spend time on. This is potentially where you will be spending the next four(ish) years of your life, and deciding on the school size is one of the first steps.
When I was applying to college, I ended up choosing a larger campus of around 50,000 students. I know I wouldn’t change that choice for the world. Being in a larger community helped me find myself and my true passions in life. I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t push my boundaries by attending a larger campus.
I would advise not only researching the pros and cons of a large campus, but also the pros and cons of each school you are applying to. Try to imagine your life there, and figure out what is important to include in your soon-to-be daily life.
Make sure that you weigh these pros and cons in your decision, so you know a bit more about what your life could look like at a large college. When the time comes to announce where you’ll be next fall, you’ll be prepared. First, let’s take a look at the pros of attending a large college.
- Your Potential Friend Group is large.
College is where you will find a lot of your lifelong friends. Going to a larger college may help you find your people — the ones that think the same way you do, have similar interests, and simply like hanging out with you. Since the general student pool is larger, you may be able to meet your friend-soulmates more easily.
- You may have more extracurriculars to choose from.
Larger colleges not only have more extracurricular choices, but they also get a larger budget for them. This means better equipment and supplies that you get to use! This is especially useful for any students interested in creative or fitness activities. In a smaller college, it’s possible you won’t find an extracurricular that you’re interested in or you might have to use less-than-ideal equipment.
- More career opportunities may be open to you.
We’re talking about your five-year plan here! Larger colleges may have more connections, which could equal better career opportunities. Think better (possibly paid) internships, important guest speakers, and professional connections through professors.
- Bigger schools may have more academic programs to choose from.
If you’re looking for a specific major, it may only be available at some colleges. The larger the university, the more likely it will offer the program you’re looking to get into. This is especially important if you want to go into the arts, because you might have a smaller list of schools that you’re able to apply to in the first place.
- You may have a more prominent social life.
I’m not just talking about the party or club scene of a larger college (even though that’s also a deciding factor for some students). An important part of college is your social life and growing as a person. Use these years to figure out who you are, and learn from those around you. Going to a large college — particularly one in a big city — will increase the chances of learning about different cultures and opinions, and get you out of your comfort bubble.
Now, let’s look at the possible cons of a big college.
- You could have long distances between classes.
No one wants the stress, chaos, and sweat that comes with trying to get from one side of your large campus to the other in a few minutes. There’s nothing worse than running into your class late, trying to find a seat and having your professor call you out. While this can happen on a smaller campus, it is much more likely to happen to you on a larger one. This may not be a deciding factor in your applications, but it’s something that you don’t really think about before you start college.
- There may be more competition for top spots.
While a large campus means more extracurriculars, it also means tough competition. There will be many more people gunning for the top spot, so they can add it to their resumes. This just means that you’ll have to work harder for the lead or president role — or, you’ve got to be fine with not being the top dog.
- Your school may lack individual attention.
The nice thing about smaller colleges is that you get individual attention from professors. They get to know you while you’re in class, so you don’t have to make yourself known during their office hours. On large campuses, you may have to fight for that attention. You will need to know the material well, constantly participate in discussions, and stop by office hours to stick out in the class of 300 other students.