What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

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What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Too Big? Too Small? Just Right for Me!

Whether a school is too big or too small is the ultimate personal determination. The numbers are what they are, but the perspective is an individual one. Large schools may tout their greater opportunities but others may see only more competition for those opportunities. Small schools may trumpet their close knit community—a state that some student may find stifling. Knowing everyone may be nirvana for some while an anathema for others. Seeing new students every day—a common occurrence at a big school--might be exciting for some but scream anonymity or overwhelming to others. In the end, nothing better illustrates the importance of finding the right fit between a student and a school than the issue of size. Central to the college search is a self-assessment of what the student wants at that time in their life and the appropriateness of school size is little more than an answer to that inquiry.

Patty Finer

What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

The size of a school is based on its population. UCLA is a large school though it is not the largest physical campus of the UCs. It has about 60,000 students, both part and full time. The lecture halls for freshmen are about 500 students per class.. this is large. USC on the other hand is considered small.. medium.... There can be a few large lecture classes of up to 500 with TAs teaching small 15-20 student labs. Most of the classes are smaller, the student population is more like 17000 students in total +/-~~~ UC Santa Cruz, while the second largest campus in the UCs is only a population of 15000 students ( undergrad and grad)-- and then school like the Claremont Colleges or Occidental are small ... Occidental has something like 500 students total on campus The Ivy league schools are also considered small with each admissions class being about 1000 + The advantage of a large school is that there are a lot of resources available... lots of things to do nearby, and they usually are division 1 schools.. Michigan, UCLA, Berkeley (Cal), etc. The disadvantage of a big school is that they are usually cold and it is hard to make friends. Smaller schools have less students so the there is more of a calm. It is easier to make friends, but the resources may not be as many. Stanford is a small school, but they are Div 1 with a lot of team spirit..... and San Francisco is nearby with the resources that perhaps the campus does not offer.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

Colleges come in all sizes from very small (2000 students) to huge (50000 students). While size alone does not make a school good or bad, generally smaller schools tend to focus more on teaching undergraduates as opposed to large research universities. Professors (as opposed to TAs) tend to teach more classes with fewer students in them. Smaller schools also tend to have higher retention and graduation rates because the scale is more personal and manageable. Students who attend small schools also tend to go to graduate school more often and be better prepared. Larger universities are often the better place to get a professional degree in business and engineering since they are not always offered at smaller schools.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

10's of 1,000's of students constitute a large school, while 1,500-2,000 would be a small school. A big fish in a little pond could do well instead of being lost at a school with 50,000 students, but it's the curriculum that's most important - not the enrollment size.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

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!

John Happs
Counseling-4-College

What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

Do you want to be a small fish in a large pond or a large fish in a small pond? What kind of attention do you need to learn. Class size may be a better number than size of school. Size does matter depending on you.

Renee Boone
The College Advisor

What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

Size generally refers to enrollment, but students also should make themselves aware of average class size, percentage of lecture classes with more than 100 students, student/faculty ratio and physical space...is this a compact or spread-out campus?

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

What makes a school large or small to an applicant is the applicant's frame of reference. A student coming from a high school with 4,000+ students may find a college of the same size to be similar or even too small while a student coming from a high school of 300 students may find a college with 4,000 students to be much bigger. Size alone may not determine a student's experience at college. So much depends on class size and how the colleges are organzied. Are students split up into residential colleges where they spend all four years? Are most classes held as large lectures or smaller seminiars. In terms of advantages and disadvantages, again size does not always correlate. For example some of the small liberal arts colleges have incredible athletic and research facilities which one might expect to find only at large schools and some large schools may cap class size below a smaller college. Which college is the right size for you? Only you can decide once you done your research and taken into account your personal priorities.

Angela Conley
College Admission Expert VentureForth

What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

As the graduate of a large public ivy, I know well the plethora of resources, opportunities and access to notable faculty and a diverse student body. Less appealing for some are the large class sizes and the sometimes frustrating task of arranging meetings with faculty. At the same time, some larger institutions provide faculty mentors in addition to your declared major advisor. The size of the school often depends on the number of personal connections and your circle of friends. Having also worked at small liberal arts colleges, I also recognive the value of chances to be "a big fish" in a small pond. There is something to be said for dwelling on a campus where "everyone knows your name." A primary benefit of small campuses beyond class size and recognition by faculty are select opportunities, especially at small liberal arts colleges to receive scholarships and awards such as the The Watson fellowship and the funds for community service locally and abroad.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

What makes a school large or small and what are some advantages and disadvantages of each?

It depends on the individual the typical standard is 10,000 is considered average, 5000 roughly small, over 10,000 large. Advantages/disadvantages depend upon your interests and what you want to be involved in and how many people you are comfortable being around. Additionally, you also have to think about where you are going after undergraduate education and if your first school is noted for the program you are choosing because it can limit your graduate school acceptance if you attend an institution regardless of the size that does not have a quality program.