Attending college is a very personal choice, and you have to really evaluate what you want and what works for you. Personally, I thrive in environments that allow for ample interaction with the professor and other students. With this in mind, I thought a small liberal arts college would be the best fit for me. Here are a few of my favorite things about attending one.
Small class sizes. I find it difficult to concentrate when I am in an auditorium full of hundreds of other students listening to the same talking head. For many students, including myself, not being able to actively participate in class lowers motivation significantly. At my school, all of my classes are around 25 students or less—which makes it easier to create a meaningful relationship with professors and classmates. The burden of creating study groups becomes lighter when you don’t have 300 classmates to choose from. Plus, most professors end up knowing you by name and remembering your “spot” in class, which means they will notice how dedicated (or not dedicated) you are to class attendance.
Getting to know your professor. This is sort of an extension of my first point, but with smaller classes, you have a better chance of setting yourself apart. Professors really do appreciate it when students ask insightful questions or show that they are paying attention in class. Going to a small college makes it easier to find professors—in fact, I’ve run into some of mine while on my way to the campus coffee shop. Of course, getting to know your professor extends beyond superficial encounters like that. Be sure to make use of professors’ office hours, because building good working relationships with professors often requires more than just showing up to class.
An emphasis on skills like critical thinking and rhetoric. The core curricula at many small liberal arts colleges often put emphasis on critical thinking and communication skills, which are generally helpful no matter which discipline you choose to pursue. For example, my school implements a seminar program where students read a common piece of literature, form insightful questions about it, and have discussions are the work’s meaning.
Ample places to find peace and quiet. My campus is located right in the middle of idyllic hills and valleys, and so are many other small colleges. With so many nooks and crannies to explore, finding a place to relax and study or hang out with friends is an easy task.
Lots of resources—and no long lines or waiting list for them. At my school, we have numerous facilities and resources for our small student population. Various centers for every purpose under the sun, including (but not limited to) health, tutoring, counseling, writing, and recreation, all have a common goal: to create the best student experience possible. Having fewer students to cater to means that the advisors at these centers will almost always be available for your specific needs, and there won’t be a long line of students before you.
This article is not meant to rag on larger or mid-size schools, which have their own unique set of benefits. Again, choosing a school is a deeply personal choice. If you have preferences similar to mine, I hope you consider attending a small liberal arts school!