A student’s perspective on choosing smaller schools…
Although I have fond memories from my senior year of high school, my recollections from the college admissions process are anything but pleasant.
Like many students, I had only a vague notion of what I was looking for in a college. And for a person who is already indecisive, the fact that there are a wide variety of options didn’t make it any easier.
The National Center for Education Statistics lists over 4,000 degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States. With that many options, there might not be a clear choice for students. There wasn’t for me — I created list after list of different colleges, ranging from the big to the small, the elite to the practically unknown.
I even created an excel spreadsheet to rank the colleges I planned on visiting, including such variables as the size of the campus, the amenities offered to students, and even the meals offered at the school’s dining hall.
At many times I felt that I was drowning in an ocean of options, with no safe pick in sight.
When I started looking at colleges, I immediately gravitated toward the larger, more prestigious schools. I assumed — somewhat correctly — that the largest schools would have the most to offer in terms of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students.
I also dreamed of attending one of the eight Ivy League universities, thinking it would give me a head start in the professional world. I researched Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, marveling at the venerable histories of each renowned institution. I maintained that attending those universities would unlock a golden door into a bright, successful future, propelling me past my peers who had chosen smaller, less-famed colleges.
Once I began touring different universities, those early perceptions shifted immediately. I expected to find strong, vibrant communities at the larger schools, but I found the strongest communities at the smaller universities. It makes sense, of course — for larger institutions, a student can easily blur into the crowd, becoming just one out of tens of thousands. For the smaller counterparts, it may not be so easy to blend into the…