By Laura Vann
The college search can be a painful process – especially when you’re sifting through thousands of options (and that’s just in the United States). Where do you start? Well, my advice is to first narrow it down by asking yourself these questions:
- Do you like big or small class sizes?
- Do you prefer warm or cold weather?
- What are your favorite hobbies?
- What do you want to study?
- What do you want to do when you grow up?
Although it’s not a be-all, end-all list, hopefully it will help you focus your search and find your best college match – at least by size, geographic region and major.
If I had all the answers – or better yet an electronic questionnaire you could fill out with your interests, likes and dislikes that would produce a list of universities that are right for you – I would be the best higher education PR person in the biz.
But having been a student at a small university and now a PR person for one, here 7 signs that a small college might be the answer:
1. You like the idea of talking with your professors (not teaching assistants) after class.
If you thrive in small classes with individualized attention and accessible professors, a small university is probably a safe bet. At Lynn University (a small private college located in Boca Raton, FL that I’m a proud employee and two-time alum of) the student-teacher ratio is 16:1. That almost guarantees that your professor will know you by name in the first week – you’re never just a number here.
2. You want to walk through campus and see familiar faces.
Going to a small school is kind of like living in a small town with a close, tight-knit family. Everybody knows everybody.
3. You prefer to have multiple classes with the same people.
Once you get into your major and specialization, you’ll start having classes with many of the same people because only so many people are in the advanced classes. Why is this a benefit? Well, you have the opportunity to make really close friends that you study, live and hang out with. Plus, you’ll know which people have similar study habits and work ethics – making teaming up for group projects a breeze!
4. You enjoy being close to everything.
Some universities are literally small cities, but not a small college. Everything is close by, and you won’t have to hustle from one class to the other – this is especially helpful when you want to spend a few extra minutes talking with your professor after class. Lynn, for example, has a 123-acre campus. You can get anywhere on foot in just 10 minutes.
5. You love always having a good parking spot.
Parking is always a problem on university campuses, but at most small colleges it’s a lot easier than at large ones. Students literally have to take shuttles from one parking lot to another or walk over a mile just to get to class. Although I hear students at Lynn complain about a five-minute walk from the “North Lot” to get to class, they really don’t have much to complain about if they put it into perspective. Another benefit of most small colleges is freshmen get to bring their cars!
6. You wish to participate (and run) campus activities – even as a freshman.
At small universities, you don’t have to wait to be an upperclassman to obtain a leadership role. You can chair major events like Relay for Life, campaign for a position on the Student Government Association and even start your own campus group, produce your own radio show or write for the student newspaper. You can literally do this the first day you walk onto campus as a freshman. The options are endless!
7. You’re worried about the availability of scholarships, grants and loans.
A major concern for students that know a small private college is the perfect fit for them, is how will they pay for it. Well, I’m here to tell you that a private college education is more affordable than you might think. In fact, at Lynn, more than 62% of students receive some form of financial aid, including scholarships, grants and loans that help their college dreams become a reality. When it comes to smaller schools the competition for limited financial aid resources is significantly less.
Laura Vann, public relations specialist at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. She is a 2008 and 2010 Lynn alum, a well traveled blogger on My Life in Madrid and Knight Writer, an Augusta, GA. native and a 20-something, making her a Gen-Yer like most current and prospective college students. Please contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions related to the blog.
Check out StudentAdvisor’s free college match tool.