I attend a small liberal arts college in western New York. Just to be clear, by small I mean less than 1500 undergraduate students. While I realize that may be way to small for people who thrive in large environments, I love it. I love having all of my professors know me by name as early as freshmen year. I love walking around campus, knowing I'll see people I know everywhere. Classes are small, making it easy to ask questions, meet for study groups, and participate in group discussions. There is no shortage of clubs, and most of them are small enough that everyone knows everyone and meetings become another time to spend with friends. As I talk to friends or family who are at larger schools, however, I am continuously blown away by the differences and I feel like the same sets of questions always spring to my mind.
1. How big is your campus?
Our campus is pretty small, you can walk from one side to the other in about 10 minutes. That being said, I know plenty of people who complain about having class all the way on the other side of campus. But we only accommodate 1200 people on a daily basis. You guys have tens of thousands of students!
2. Are there shuttles?
This ties in to my first question. Some schools are over 2 square miles. While that really isn't a lot for many students, what if the weather sucks? No one, even if they really love exercise, wants to spend their day walking around a 2.7 square mile campus in the pouring rain, freezing cold, or a blizzard. So are there buses or shuttles to help you get to your classes on time in the even of bad weather? If not, you guys must be some of the fittest, most weather-enduring young adults in the nation.
3. Do you feel like you know a lot of people as you walk around campus?
Obviously you'd know the other people on your floor since you see them on a daily basis. And, since you see the same people in class each day I imagine you know them too. Or at least some of them depending on how large the class sizes are. I suppose you'd meet people in clubs too. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm sure you know lots of people, and you really only need a handful to have a nice group of friends to hang out with.
4. What are 200 person lectures like?
I think my biggest class has had 24 people in it. Even then it felt hard to have individual attention from the professor or to ask questions that didn't relate to the class as a whole. That was probably one of the only classes where I can say I did not know everyone at the end of it. Well, I knew their names but I haven't seen most of them since the class ended. How do you have discussions with 200 students in the room? What if you have a question - do you email the professor later or wait after class or just ask it in front of everyone? I'm sure you have a great method and learn very well, I just genuinely do not get it and don't think I would be able to learn in that kind of setting.
5. Is there a lot of school spirit?
I frequently hear people complaining about the school and school events such as games, Relay for Life, Dance Marathon, etc. are not often well attended. It must be fun to go to a football game with thousands of other students to cheer on the team, or to go to pep rallies and such. Though we have a great sense of community here I sometimes wish I went to a school with a little more spirit for events.
6. Do you ever wish you'd picked a smaller school?
Personally, I cannot imagine myself anywhere else. I love the school, I love that it's small, and I love the people I've met here. I think I'd find a big school very overwhelming and would want somewhere smaller. However, I know you picked the school you are at for a reason and would have left by now if it wasn't working out for you so I guess this my be kind of a silly question.
Wherever you are and whatever the size of the student body at the school you picked, I hope you're happy with the decision you made. There is a great school for everyone, 1200 undergrad would never work for some people and 50,000 would never work for others.