When students work on their list of universities to apply to, they often wonder whether it is alright to apply to small college, and why many students opt for a state university over a top-tier university. Here are some answers by students in response to these questions.

#1 What are some of the advantages of going to a small college?

  • The class sizes are undoubtedly smaller, which makes for a much better learning environment, in my opinion.
  • I’ve had the chance to be in touch with several professors, even still. They’re incredibly intelligent and passionate about helping students. I was offered a chance to be a teacher’s assistant in my senior year (twice actually, though I only did it once), which is a great experience, should I go on to grad school.  A few have offered to write me letters of recommendation, passed along potential job offerings, etc.  If I went to a larger school, I’m sure I wouldn’t have made these close connections.
  • Smaller colleges seem (I’m speaking in generalities, of course) to offer better financial options, especially if you have a good GPA.  I’ve been awarded several scholarships through the university, which allowed me to be debt-free through 5 years of college.
  • The smaller colleges seem to have a few programs that they specialize in.  I would be careful to check this out before enrolling in a smaller college.  My college has a great nursing program, for example, but I didn’t want to be a nurse.  I ended up with a double major in Communication and Psychology.  The Communication department is great, but I wish it would’ve focused a bit more on public relations and advertising, two potential career options.  My psychology department is in the middle of a massive overall, switching the focus to evolutionary psychology, the new leading school of thought in psychology.  I say that to say this; each school has it’s strengths and weaknesses academically, and small colleges are no exception.

#2 Why would someone choose a state university over a top-tier university?

Money.

Graduating free of debt is an amazing gift to be given.

For example, I was lucky enough that my family was willing/financially able to support my college tuition up to the price of a state university.

Had I chosen to attend a private university, my family still would have graciously given me that same amount of money, but I would have been at least 100K in debt by the time I graduated.

I will be graduating in about 6 months from a good university, entirely free of debt.

And right now, because of that, so many more opportunities are open to me. I don’t have to immediately begin working, nervous about paying back thousands of dollars in student loans.

Moreover, if someone attends a university that isn’t from the “top-tier” for their bachelor’s program, they still have the option to attend a top-tier university for graduate school, where they can hopefully secure funding.