Dear Estelle. I’m a junior in high school who is just starting to put together my college list . My parents insist that I include at least five small liberal arts colleges because they feel this type of school suits my temperament and learning style. I’ve always been a rah-rah “big ten” kind of guy who looks forward to football Saturdays in the fall and lots of campus clubs and activities. What argument can you give that will show my folks that I will succeed in a large university?
KS, Ponderosa High School
Aside from the excitement of football Saturdays there are many reasons to select a small liberal arts college. Each year when I meet with admissions people from the smaller schools, they give me good ideas why they believe in the benefits of their colleges. First off, they speak about the ease with which faculty gets to know the students. One professor from Occidental in California says that by the second day of class, he knows each student in his classes of twenty by first name. A rep from Cornell College said that faculty pay attention to each student and can identify whether a student needs help. She added that the opportunities for collaboration on projects between various departments were significant.
An admissions professional from Colorado College noted that research opportunities in small schools can be as good as those in major universities citing the fact that the science department at CC had just received a $250,000 electron microscope which will be available to undergraduates in their science classes. All the admissions people reminded me that students can’t sit in the back of a lecture room and go unnoticed at smaller colleges.
So, if it’s Big Ten sports you’re seeking or a chance to be anonymous, perhaps a large university might suit you well. However, if you want to get immersed in your classes and be an active participant with lots of opportunities, a small school might work for you. Consider this, all colleges have sports where you can be a spectator or a participant. My advice: Visit all kinds of schools and find out what feels right for you.