What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?
There are colleges with student populations in the hundreds and there are others with student populations in the tens of thousands. In any case, what will make for a successful college/university experience will be for the student to find his/her niche in the institution to which he/she chooses to go. That can be done in a small school or a large school.
The size college/university to which a student chooses to apply to will depend on factors such as the size of the high school that he/she has been attending, the student's own personality, his/her aspirations, and so on. Ironically, similar contributing factors can result in quite differing student choices. One student who has attended a rather small high school might be attracted to a college with a small enrollment, looking for the close sense of community that could exist in such an institution, while another student from a similar background might want to get away from the "small school" experience and go into the relative anonymity of a larger college. Likewise, students who have attended very large high schools might or might not be attracted to large colleges/universities. Naturally, even in a large college/university, the student will ultimately have a smaller circle of friends, classmates, possible teammates or performance partners, and professors. These people will make up the student's "niche".
"Rugg's Recommendations on the Colleges" establishes the following size designations:
Small Enrollment - Under 1,000 students
Moderate Enrollment - From 1,000 to 3,000 students
Medium Enrollment - From 3,000 to 8,000 students
Large Enrollment - From 8,000 to 20,000 students
Extra Large Enrollment - Over 20,000 students
Following are some advantages and disadvantages of both large and small schools. This list is not definitive, but will give you some things to think about.
Large School Advantages:
- More extensive classroom, research, laboratory, library, and sports facilities will be available.
- There will be a greater number of class choices and possible majors.
- There is the potential for dynamic school spirit - the "big game" syndrome.
- A wide variety of extracurricular and sports activities will be provided, including varsity teams.
- There will be a large number of people who can potentially become part of a student's circle of friends and acquaintance.
Large School Disadvantages:
- The possibility of becoming lost in the crowd can be a problem (especially if a student has a hard time finding his/her niche - but this can happen in a small school, as well).
- There is the chance of becoming a number, rather than a name.
- If school facilities are spread over a wide area, it can take much longer to get from one place to another.
Small School Advantages:
- A student will usually not get lost in the crowd. Small schools are generally able to dedicate more attention to the nurturing of individual student needs.
- A student is usually known by name and will frequently run into friends and acquaintances during the day.
- Even if a small school has a large campus, most facilities will be grouped within convenient travel distance of one another.
- A number of smaller institutions have formed partnerships or joined consortia with other schools in order to expand the resources and class offerings available to their students. A student can then enjoy the nurturing environment of a small school, while having access to a wider range of resources.
Small School Disadvantages:
- Although many small schools have excellent facilities, research opportunities, and class options, there will be a certain limitation to their resources. (If a school has joined a consortia of other institutions, this disadvantage may be overcome.)
- Most schools, large or small, attempt to provide a wide variety of sports opportunities and other extracurricular activities for their students, but the size of the student body in a small school will, of course, preclude providing the number of activities that would be available in a larger school.
- The number of potential friends and acquaintances will be smaller. This could be a problem in a very small school, but in most cases, will not be an issue.
A student can make a happy and successful adjustment in either a large- or small-school environment, but as I have mentioned several times in this response, it is essential that a student find his/her niche.
Good luck in your search for the right schools!