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Staff Writers
Updated March 24, 2021

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Small College Characteristics

  • Smaller Class Sizes
  • More Opportunities to Participate in Social Activities and Club
  • Taught by Professors, not Professor Assistants
  • Develop Friendships
  • Focus on Undergraduate Education

One of the first decisions college-bound students must make is whether to consider small colleges for the next step in their education. Deciding whether to attend a large university setting or a smaller college setting will help eliminate many choices. Following are 5 characteristics of small colleges that might make this decision an easier one to make.

Smaller Class Sizes

The most obvious advantage to a small college is the smaller class sizes. Smaller class sizes enable students to take a more active role and participate in the class. Asking questions, interacting with other students and the professor, and taking part in class discussions are all much easier in a small class as opposed to a huge lecture hall full of hundreds of students. Students are much less likely to get lost in the crowd in a smaller college setting. In addition, there is generally a stronger advising system set up for students in a smaller setting with more direct guidance and individual attention.

Recommended link:The 100 Most Affordable Small Colleges in America

More Opportunities to Participate in Social Activities and Club

Another advantage to a smaller college setting is that there is more opportunity to participate in social activities and clubs. With a smaller student body there will be less competition for spots on the athletic teams and in the performing arts such as drama and music. In addition, the chances are better to be accepted into a fraternity or sorority if that is something each student is interested in.

Taught by Professors, not Professor Assistants

In many of the larger universities, classes can be taught by professor assistants. On a smaller campus, classes will be taught by the professor themselves, not their assistants. This is a huge advantage as the classes themselves will offer a higher quality of teaching. In addition, students will be able to interact with their professors on a more personal level. Students are able to get individualized help if they need it, and letters of recommendation later when they need those.

Develop Friendships

On a smaller college campus students often have more classes together and recognize each other in other areas of school such as the cafeteria, housing, and the student union. Students develop stronger bonds and deeper friendships with a larger percentage of their class. Camaraderie between the students at a smaller college is generally much higher than at a large campus where few students know anyone outside of their immediate circle.

Focus on Undergraduate Education

On a smaller campus, the focus is on providing the best possible undergraduate education possible. Larger campuses are split between the undergraduate program and the graduate and doctorate programs that they offer. In addition, smaller colleges can offer the opportunity to design an individual program for specialized majors. Larger colleges do not generally have the flexibility to deviate from the official programs that they offer.


There are many different things to consider when trying to decide where to go to college. While large colleges and university do offer some advantages over smaller colleges, everyone must make the choice for themselves. Some students are more comfortable in a smaller setting where you see a familiar face everywhere you turn. In addition, there is a safety net built into a smaller college where students are less likely to fall through the cracks and get lost in the system. Small colleges offer some unique advantages that help each student to achieve success both in the college setting and on into the future.

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