I go to the fourth largest public university in the country. Coming from a small town, I heard every stereotype there was about going to a big school. After three years, I’ve come to know them all as complete misconceptions, starting with how my college would be….
Too Much of a Party School
Most big schools, except Brigham Young of course, are to some extent known for their party scene. While it’s true that big schools have a great culture of undergrads having a good-ass time, it really discounts the academic rigors needed to make it at the school. My school has an acceptance rate under 50 percent, is one of the best research universities in the country and features renowned faculty in many different departments. You could find the same type of academic chops at even bigger schools like Arizona State, Central Florida and Ohio State too. Big schools: party hard, work harder.
Both of my sisters went to a pretty small, private university, and my parents could only slightly hide the fact that they preferred me to do the same. Class size was one of the reasons why. People tend to think of big universities consisting entirely of gigantic lecture halls, with no one-on-one interaction between professor and student. This is somewhat true in entry level courses where there are a lot of kids trying to get a course requirement.
After that, however, the sizes of courses decreases drastically. I have three courses in my major this fall, and each of them has about 20 students. A 20-1 student to teacher ratio would rate extremely high in any ranking of colleges. The class size issue is vastly overstated.
Lost in the Crowd
There’s so many kids at your school, how will you ever stand out? By being unique I guess. Being a big fish in a small pond is easy at a small school, but how you define yourself in a big pond is up to you at a big school. You can choose to go through school in relative anonymity or you can try be the most popular person on campus. It’s really up to you, and smaller schools don’t afford that decision as much.
Just Too Big
Here’s the thing about big schools, I’ve always though that you can make it as big or small as you want. Within a big school there’s such a network of smaller communities of like-minded people that your world will be much smaller than you’d think.
Basically, you’ll have your network of people you’ll know just like at a small school, but you also have the possibility to always meet new people, because there’s so many kids. I run into a ton of people I know at the bars, because I’m in a group that likes to go to the bars. If you’re into basketball, you’ll run into a lot of people you know there. Only at first will you sort of feel overwhelmed, but overall it’s good for you because it makes you adjust and grow as a person. And oh yeah, my school has like 27,000 girls. Beat that.