Big City or Small Town? The Best College Setting for You

For every person who loves the fast pace of big cities, there is another person who craves the slower lifestyle found in smaller towns. The same is true for large universities and small colleges. When choosing the right college education, many factors come into play, including financial need, curriculum and majors offered. Deciding whether to venture into the big city or to make a beeline for the country is also a consideration when choosing the right college.

Good reasons to be a country mouse at a small college

There are many reasons to choose small colleges over larger institutions of higher learning. The close-knit community of a small college might be great for those who prefer a more intimate classroom setting, but there are other advantages that go beyond the atmosphere:

  1. Smaller class size. Though some large universities offer small classes, fewer students increase the chance of having quieter, smaller classes that allow for more interaction with professors.
  2. Dedicated professors. Classes are often taught by the professors themselves, not by teaching assistants. In addition, students might find that they take several courses under the same professors throughout their college years, allowing them a chance to get to know their instructors better.
  3. More flexible requirements. Those looking to create their own independent study or construct their own major could find more leeway to do so at a smaller college.
  4. Less red tape. Forget the long lines at the advisor’s office or the long waits for a call back from the registrar. Smaller colleges can mean less bureaucracy, and that means less time worrying about red tape and more time focusing on studies.
  5. Strong advisory system. When advisors have fewer students under their watch, they have an easier time helping students reach their goals. This creates a stronger advisory system that can help direct students down the right path.
  6. More opportunities to get involved. Small colleges offer plenty of ways to get to know fellow students. Charity events, small sports teams and college-wide projects can enhance that close-knit community feeling.

Reasons to join the crowds at a large university

On the other hand, large universities offer many advantages that most small colleges just can’t match. Here are a few reasons some choose to head for the city instead of the hills:

  1. More extracurricular activities. Because large universities have so many students, a wealth of activities abounds for those who want some adventure when class is over.
  2. Well-funded sports programs. The biggest names in sports tend to come from the larger universities, where athletics are funded by generous boosters. Large universities with big-name teams are also more likely to give athletic scholarships.
  3. Numerous housing opportunities. From dorm rooms to off-campus apartments to fraternity and sorority houses, the options for housing abound at large universities.
  4. Distinguished staff. Faculty who are at the top of their game, including a few famous faces, are more likely to be found at large universities that offer the best research facilities and exposure.
  5. State-of-the-art facilities. With such a large student population demanding the best in laboratories and other facilities, bigger universities tend to sink more money into state-of-the-art upgrades.
  6. Variety of off-campus experiences. A big school in the city offers a wide variety of things to do when class is over. From museums to movies, there is always something going on in the metro area.

Best of both worlds: Small colleges in the city or large universities in the country

Attending a small college doesn’t mean necessarily spending your college years in a tiny town. There are many small colleges located in big cities just as there are large universities located in tinier towns.

For those who love the city but are worried about being overwhelmed when among a cast of tens of thousands, a small college in a metro area can be the perfect answer. For those who prefer small-town life but want the name recognition of a big university, a large campus away from the bright lights of the city can be a great solution.

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