Let's admit it, the college search is a long and tedious struggle. Trying to find the best school for you can require thinking about a lot of factors: teacher ratings, dining hall quality, dorm room quality, athletics, student/teacher ratio, and so much more. Often during a college search, size does matter. When the word college comes to mind, the stereotype turns to a huge campus, fraternity parties galore, tailgating, college football games, and lecture halls that can fit over a hundred students.
But what about those smaller, less recognized universities? Often, they are simply overlooked just based on their size. However, over the past year of attending a small town university on the prairie, I find that there are many overlooked benefits that cannot be found on a big college campus.
1. Dining hall lines are unbelievably short
2. Walking distance from your dorm to where-ever
Small college campuses allow you to get up fifteen minutes before your class on the other side of campus and still have time to get ready and make it on time. Definitely comes in handy for people who are not early birds.
3. Smaller classrooms = Closer connections
No need to feel claustrophobic in those huge, crowded lecture halls. Small classes in smaller classrooms give the class a more connected feel with their professor during class as well as their fellow students. This make a difference when talking to your professor about concerns regarding your classes. Less students = more opportunities to get help from your professor.
4. Involvement within the community
There are numerous ways to get involved on a small town campus with the outside community: volunteering at the animal shelter, going to church in town, attending town council meetings, town library book clubs, bingo night; the list is endless!
5. Nature is everywhere, and she's beautiful
When living in a small town in the middle of no-where on the prairie, biking and nature trails are the best way to get away from campus life for a while. It gives you a break to clear your mind from the hectic life of classes and homework while also getting you some fresh air.
6. Everything big community wise happens on-campus
Small towns don't have concert arenas or professional football teams to watch, but the university does. All major events that happen in the town happen on campus and usually students get a discount. Talk about a win for the home team!
7. Hang out spots, diners, coffee shops and restaurants - you know them all!
You know every nook and cranny of your university town as well as the go-to places? Need the lowest gas prices in town? Go to the gas station on Main Street. Need a good cup of coffee and place to do your homework? The coffee shop on the corner by the dollar store has a great Americano along with comfy chairs next to a fireplace. And forget about those chain restaurants, local eat-out spots are one of a kind! A homemade hamburger, fries and chocolate milkshake from a local diner always beats out McDonald's when it comes to that homey feel.
8. Easy and cheap transportation
When living in a small town, you don't have to drive fifteen minutes to go to the grocery store or to your favorite restaurant. Everything is either walking, biking, public commuting or short drive distance away - definitely a money saver on gas.
9. Internship and scholarly research
Can I bring up those professor relationships again? Professors really look for those bonds with their students. Those bonds can later turn into opportunities to work with that professor on internships or scholarly research, which looks really good on your resume.
10. Familiar faces
There comes a point in the semester where you are able to recognize every face you pass by. Whether you've seen them in class, at a club meeting, in a performance or just walking around campus, you feel like you've seen them at least once. Just knowing this makes you feel like you're part of a community.
11. Better chance of getting into college athletics, clubs, or organizations
Although small universities don't have the money to have huge athletic programs or scholarships like many Division I schools, it does provide students interested in sports the chance to participate. Smaller universities are more fluid on who is involved in extracurricular and give every student a chance no matter their experience level!
12. Making it personal with your major
Larger universities are often strict on criteria and classes needed to fulfill a major. Same goes for small universities, but some small universities give students the option to customize their major if they'd like (with the approval of the academic board), giving them a more hands-on control of their major.
13. You become more than just a number
To small universities, it's the person that lies behind the GPA that matters. Their mission is to to connect with each and every one of their students on a personal level in order to help them succeed. College is certainly the time to become your own person, and having a university that recognizes you individuality truly helps you along on your journey through college and beyond.