Pros & Cons Of Small Colleges

small colleges

Flickr user Meagan

When creating their shortlist of colleges, most students take into consideration the school’s academic program, the non-academic program they are interested in, and the school’s location. Another important factor is the size of the college.

The size of the college can make a considerable difference to your overall college experience. It is an important factor to keep in mind. Understanding the pros and cons of small colleges will help you identify whether you are better suited to larger or smaller colleges.


You Have A Better Chance Of Standing Out

Big colleges have their own plus points—larger variety of academic programs, more sports options to choose from, fancier clubs and state of the art facilities. But, they also have thousands of students, all of whom are highly competitive. In such an environment, no matter how good you are, it can be a real struggle to stand out and get noticed for your accomplishments.

Compare this with a smaller school, with fewer students. It is so much easier to stand out in a smaller student cohort. Getting recognized for your achievements can be a major factor in staying motivated and striving to do better.

There Is A Stronger Sense Of Community

Just like living in a small town vs a large city, in a small college, everyone knows everyone… well, almost. You’ll always see a familiar face everywhere you go. It won’t take long to get to know not just your fellow classmates but also students in other fields of study. It can be a nice comforting feeling knowing that you are part of a community in a small school instead of just a member of the crowd on a larger campus.

With a tighter knit community such as this, you are less likely to feel alone or homesick. You also have a better chance of making lifelong friends and getting invited over to a friend’s house during the break. This can be especially important if you are attending an out of state college and will not be going home during that break.

Getting Access To All Classes Is So Much Easier

In bigger colleges, despite the larger number of programs on offer, some programs invariably tend to be more popular than others and you have to fight to get into one of these classes. As mentioned earlier, everything is highly competitive, even getting into the program of your choice.

In smaller schools, students rarely have to fight to get into any of their classes. The schedules are easier and switching to another course is easier too.

Participating In Activities Is Easier Too

With fewer students vying for places in different activities, you will find it easier to participate in any activity or join any club of your choice, whether it is the school newspaper team, the drama club or the debate team. You won’t have to settle for second-best just because your first-choice was full.

School Spirit Is Expressed In More Unconventional Ways

In larger colleges, school spirit is often expressed through boisterous sporting matches and big community events. This is not the norm in smaller schools, where students find more low-key ways to express their school spirit. This is perfect for anyone who prefers smaller, cozier celebrations and traditions.

It’s a Short Walk Anywhere

In a small college, everything is within walking distance. It is so much easier to get from class to class and from class to the dorms, library, dining halls or book store.


Smaller Variety of Programs to Choose From

Smaller colleges offer fewer courses and majors, which may work fine for you if you are 100% sure about the program you’ve chosen and you know you are not going to change your mind about your major. However, if you are in the least bit unsure, you may find this lack of choices restricting, especially if the college does not offer the program you want to switch over to.

The campus resources such as the lab facilities, library, and research facilities are also limited.

Fewer Choices of Sports Programs

Sports don’t always play a major role in a small college. If you are keen on participating in any sporting activity, before committing to any small college, it is crucial to first check that they offer the sport of your choice. Even if the college offers you the sport of your choice, you will find that the experience is different from that of a large college. Sports events are quieter. You won’t find the big fanfare and festivities associated with sporting events in larger college. If you like the idea of rooting for your school team, you may not find too many opportunities to do it in a small school.

Few Choices of Extracurricular Activities

As with academic and sports programs, you will have fewer extracurricular activities to choose from. It’s great if you can find what you want but you must be careful to look through the options before committing.

Limited Campus Experience

Many small colleges do not offer campus accommodation. Those that do, have limited space which means you will have to live off-campus. If you have always wanted the whole college experience complete with dorm mates, you may find this a bit disappointing.

Is A Small College For You?

As with all other aspects of college, there is no one right option that is best for everyone. Some students thrive in relative anonymity and competitiveness of a large college. Others are more comfortable in the cozier, more familiar settings that a small college offers. Think about your personality and your preferences when making this choice.

Try and imagine yourself in a smaller college with all of its pros and cons. How do you think you would do under the circumstances? If you can see yourself enjoying the pros and not really bothered about the cons, then you know this is the right choice for you.

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