Finding the perfect fit: a college sizing guide

College Size

By Valerie Willis
06/01/2015
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Colleges don’t exactly come in one size that fits all. There are schools as small as a few dozen students and others that have the populations of small countries. Various student body sizes produce drastically different college experiences, so it is important to figure out what size suits you according to your personality and academic ambitions. Use this handy sizing guide to find your perfect fit, because when it comes to picking a college, size matters.

Who you are: You are a huge sports fan who wants the experience of cheering for a national sports team. When you're not next-to-naked in the end zone sporting body paint and a cape of school colors, you want to hoot and holler at your team during televised games on national networks.

Your fit: Big school. Large universities generally have well-funded athletic programs, and as a result, school spirit and crazed fandom abound. Students and locals rally in pride at all sporting events and you will be among thousands of other shrieking, belly-painted enthusiasts. Since secure spots on varsity teams are reserved for the athletic spawn of Apollo, large schools offer intramural programs to keep the common folk in shape.

Who you are: You revel in the bubble of your high school world where everyone knows everyone else's business and you want to stand out from the crowd with little effort. Teachers not only know your name, they know your life story, medical history, hobbies and food allergies and you'd like to keep it that way.

Your fit: Small school. At a small college, you’ll have a tight-knit community where making a name for yourself won’t require a campus-wide publicity blitz. In intimate classroom settings your voice will be heard during discussions and with fewer undergrads to split their attention, you will have personal relationships with your profs. Don’t plan on skulking though semesters in the back row—slacking won’t go unnoticed.

Who you are: You have a toe in every activity your high school has to offer. You're on the baseball team, cheer squad, a member of Spanish Club, Chemistry Club, Art Club and you founded the Haiku Coalition. After school you take on a slew of extracurricular activities including motocross, improv comedy and volunteering with the Sea Turtle Foundation.

Your fit: Big school. At a larger university you’ll be able to pursue a wide variety of interests. With a smorgasbord of academic and social opportunities in an array of flavors you will have broader options to choose from in classes, clubs, and campus activities than you would at a smaller institution. Big schools also offer more in terms of social life as well, typically offering many entertainment outlets and bustling nightlife.

Who you are: You are passionate about sticking it to The Man and hate anything that remotely resembles the functionality of a corporation. You want to be in control of your own education and not forced to conform to predestined paths of study, or "majors," as the unimaginative say.

Your fit: Small school. At a small school, you won’t feel like you’re being passed around an assembly line when it comes to dealing with administration. There tends to be less red tape, meaning it’s easier to deal with procedures of getting into classes, financial aid, parking, etc. Smaller schools often allow students to design their own majors around specific academic ambitions, so you can pick the classes that are relevant to your interests rather than following preordained major requirements.

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