Question regarding small colleges

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Question regarding small colleges
By Mom60 (Mom60) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 06:03 pm: Edit

A question for those of you who have experience with smaller colleges under 3000 students.

My D would like a school between 4000 and 9000 students. It is limiting to say the least. I have told her she might need to compromise and attend a smaller school or a larger school.

Her concern with a school of 2000 which is about the size of her high school she would have the same people in all her classes. She has felt that ever since 7th grade when they began tracking she has the same group of kids in her classes and does not want to sign on for more of the same.
What has been your children's experience?

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 06:14 pm: Edit

College is not like that.

I went to a college with 1600 students and never felt like the same people were in all my classes. There are hundreds of classes that those 1600 students take, not the handful of classes offered for each grade in high school. Plus ALL of the courses are for the "smart" kids -- it's not like the tracking system in public high schools. Plus, once you get beyond freshman year, there aren't really "senior" classes and "junior" clases, and "sophmore" classes. Different students are taking different mixes of classes.

You do start to see some familiar faces as you get deeper into your major. But, that's because political science majors are going to be focusing on the political science courses AND smart students tend to take courses from their favorite professors because they are more fun.

There are aspects to very small colleges that can start to feel a little suffocating, but seeing the same faces in class is not one of them. To the contrary, getting to know a cadre of peers in your major really well is probably a PLUS at a small college.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 06:18 pm: Edit

Not true. A high school has a highly circumscribed curriculum and a limited set of offerings. Furthermore, high schools make all sorts of efforts to build "community" by putting the same groups of students in the same classes year in year out. Colleges do not.
My S attended a LAC (size 2,600). Four schoolmates matriculated at the same LAC and several more who graduated in different years also chose to attend. He only saw his high school friends in the distance. One of them happened to live in the same dorm. Not one of their classes was the same.

By Monydad (Monydad) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 06:39 pm: Edit

I attended a relatively large school, and towards the end in my major courses there were maybe 45 students in my major (just guessing).

At a small liberal arts school I'd guess this number might have been more like ten students. And I'd bet those ten students would start looking pretty familiar after a while.

By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 07:05 pm: Edit

Mom60: There are a good number of fine schools in that size range, in various geographical areas. That size is not really a limiting factor. Schools of that size were our major target, aside from state schools. Our S has just started at one of them, Brandeis.

If you'll give us some idea of geography, subjects of interest, cost and other considerations, we can give you some suggestions.

By Arizonamom (Arizonamom) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 07:36 pm: Edit

Mom 60 These were my son's comments as well.Mid sized school all the way. I had him apply to Trinity University anyways and it was the first school he heard back from with great merit. He visited somewhat reluctantly and spent the night. He was then sold on small schools-a total turn around. The students convinced him that it was nothing like high school as all 4 classes interact and students all live on campus so you get to know many more folks quite well.In high school each class tends to stay with their own class which is quite limiting. He ended up at Pomonona an even smaller school then Trinity. He was extremely opinionated on this topic before his visit so I strongly recommend visiting different sized schools and spending a night there.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 07:45 pm: Edit

In college, if a student chooses a major that has a sequential set of courses, such as pre-med, the likelihood of being in the same classes is higher than in majors without such obvious sequential structure such as history or English. But the core courses in the major still are a part of one's total educational experience, perhaps 7 or 8 out of total of 32 over 4 years. The range of electives available in college makes the experience less limiting than high school. At a larger university, if one is a pre-med, one will still be in some of the same classes with other pre-meds; there just will be lots more of them.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 08:08 pm: Edit

Marite, same for engineering. It is very important to take every class in sequence since one builds on the others. But, the students still have core requirements in other disciplines and there is the opportunity there to see new faces.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 08:31 pm: Edit


You are very right about the sequential structure of engineering. The OP's D was concerned about schools of less than 3,000. I wonder how many such schools have engineering programs?
Math is another sequential discipline if one begins with calculus. But I doubt a student would want to take more than 2 math courses per semester.

By Jenniferelaine (Jenniferelaine) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 08:40 pm: Edit

I attend a college with roughly 6000 undergraduates and a few hundred grad. students. Here's my take on the situation.

In a school this size:

In gen ed courses you may have one or two people you know. If you try and schedule your classes with your friends, you will have more.

In classes for your major, there will be more people in the classes that you know. Of course, this highly depends on the popularity of your major at your school, the number of sections offered, and the course level. By the time you reach your senior capstone/seminar, you should have at least met nearly everyone in the class.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:36 pm: Edit

My S went to huge HS (800 kids per class), but going to small college. Probably won't matter, because he's basically had small crew of 7-8 kids. Several of his friends have left for college in last few years (because he was in accelerated classes). He says the gifted kids were separate from others, and drugs/alco/sex stuff didn't phase them. I think his college experience will be like being in a large gifted class.

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