College Campus Debate: Small vs. Large Universities

What are some of the thoughts students have when choosing a school?  Perhaps, both campus size and classroom size, professor to student ratio, party life, food court options, campus life are largely deciding factors that come to mind.

Whether looking into undergraduate or graduate school, the questions roaming our minds remain the same, and at the end of the day, the school we end up choosing depends on the answers to those questions in order of relevance to our liking.  

US News lists some solid reasons to go to a small college such as “you’ll have more opportunity for one-on-one contact with your professor,” and “your work will be evaluated more carefully.”

As a graduating senior in high school, I was left choosing between Rutgers University-The State University of New Jersey (New Brunswick) and Monmouth University. Now, these are two Jersey universities, but with obviously different campus sizes.

Half of the people I told about Monmouth University did not know what it was or where it was located-and the other half only remembered Monmouth College and warned me of the “party school” it had been known to be. 

What finally made up my mind was the small classroom sizes Monmouth offered: a roughly one-to-twenty professor-to-student ratio (just about the same as my high school, and even lower). 

Always being the type of student to take advantage from office hours and forming an academic relationship with professors and classmates, I had a feeling deep down that Rutgers did not stand a chance against Monmouth during my decision making process.

What is it about small campuses that make them so appealing over big campuses?  It is the sense of community, that safety comfort, the idea in the back of our heads that the entire campus is “home.”

 Continuing with the Rutgers vs. Monmouth example, Rutgers does provide endless restaurants, food courts, and just about any amenity you can think of-not to mention the endless parties right on “campus” (campus being considered a shuttle ride away). 

However, from the few times I have visited, the campus is so humongous. I never know my way around.  By the time I find what I am looking for, I no longer want it. 

At small college campuses, like Monmouth, you know exactly where to go and how to get it in a matter of minutes (like the convenience store for instance, or the book store-if ever in need of last minute supplies, those are no more than a five minute walk away).  

The five minute walk brings me on to my next point, in fact: classes.  Even as a high school senior I knew I wanted to dorm because I did not want to worry about commute time before classes.  

Let’s be honest, how many of us roll out of bed at 8:15 for an 8:30 class?  I sure have!  That’s enough time to brush my teeth, wash my face, throw some jeans on, and speed-walk to my early destination.  How about those back to back classes that kill our stomachs and drain our brains?  

Fifteen minutes are not nearly enough, but when everything is so near each other, you make sure that those fifteen minutes are long enough to catch a quick bite, run to your room to pick up a forgotten assignment, or make a coffee run to keep you up through your upcoming three-hour course.  

I will never stop being grateful for all the opportunities Monmouth’s small size has given me.  Having the chance to know my professors on a one-to-one basis opened doors and insight to opportunities that probably would not have been possible otherwise.  

At big campuses, a student is sometimes merely just a number -another seat taken at lecture.  Here at Monmouth, I have never seen that to be the case.  Students obtain the equal respect they offer, and when one is struggling, you can be sure a professor, an advisor; there will be someone available to reach out and help. 

Here, it does not always have to be the student that reaches out for help.  I doubt such tiny, yet, significant services are available at bigger campuses.  

At large campuses, you are obliged to be on your own, meanwhile, on smaller campuses:  alone is never an option.  At small universities like ours, there is always a community behind you available to support you 100 percent.