By Julie Lain
Are you attending college soon and think a university is automatically your best bet? You may want to re-consider. Many to-be college students opt for the big campuses for the parties, huge sports teams, and notoriety, so you might mistakenly assume that that’s the better choice for anyone. But many students find just what they want for their education at a smaller school and go on to be successful. Don’t get me wrong, a larger school would be great for you if you’re looking for one with a thriving social scene or if other schools don’t offer your major or program. However, smaller schools are actually a better fit for some people depending on how much debt they’re willing to take on, the kind of social life they want, and what they want to get out of their college education.
First of all, community colleges are typically more cost-effective than state colleges and universities. You could be paying thousands more each year on tuition to attend a university—and for what? The quality of your education alone is generally no better at a university than it is at a community college (unless we’re talking about Ivy League schools, of course). So, you’re basically just paying extra for size and status. And you may not care at first since it’s quite a while before you have to start actually paying off your student loans. But when the time does come, you’ll be thankful that, though it’s a lot of money to pay back no matter what school you choose, you picked the less costly option.
Because of the smaller school population, there will also be higher quality teacher-student relationships. Class sizes are smaller, therefore more interaction and opportunities for help in the classroom for each student. In my school, for instance, one class typically consists of between five and ten students. Therefore, professors have ample time to answer each student’s question and students get more out of their time in the classroom since they’re encouraged to actually participate due to the more intimate setting. There’s also more time before and after class to speak with the professor if you’re in need of help since he or she doesn’t have a mountain of papers to grade. You’re not going to find all of that in a lecture hall filled with 30 students.
As you can see, finding a college that’s a good fit for you can be tricky. You want to get the best out of your college experience, but you don’t want to break the bank while doing it. But it’s just a matter of figuring out what factors are most important to you and which school satisfies them the most. And if you’re like me and aren’t interested in the party scene, but were able to find a school close by that offers just what you’re looking for, you might actually be happier attending a more modest campus. After all, quality over quantity, right?