Does Size Matter When Choosing A University In The USA?

If you’ve been researching where to study in the USA you may have focused your research on the largest universities. But is bigger always better when it comes to the size of the university you attend?\r\n\r\nThere are pros and cons to studying in a smaller institution that should be taken into consideration before you make the decision on where to study in the USA.\r\n

Pros of attending a smaller university

\r\nSmaller universities tend to have smaller classes which means you get more of an immersive teaching experience and can form closer connections with both your fellow students and teachers. Smaller classes allow for more debate and discussion, whilst creating a more comfortable environment to discuss ideas and opinions.\r\n\r\nMany students love the close community feel that a smaller university delivers. With fewer students on campus it gives you a chance to get to know people a little better and you get a better sense of comradery. This can be very important when studying abroad, away from home and in a completely new environment.\r\n\r\nSmaller universities are often cheaper to attend which is an obvious and practical advantage. If you’re looking to keep costs down as much as possible, researching smaller institutions might be a good idea. Although it’s always wise to keep in mind that studying as an international student is always going to be more expensive. Click here to discover more about the cost of studying in the USA.\r\n\r\nA lot of students find that smaller universities have less administrative red tape because of the reduced number of faculty and students. This means the institutions are a lot more flexible and open to student input on things like timetabling and budget allocations than larger, more rigid universities.\r\n

Cons of attending a smaller university

\r\nDue to the smaller number of student, faculty members and resources, smaller universities can have a lack of specialised courses. A lot of smaller places simply don’t have the numbers to warrant running such specialised course. Whilst there may be a range of more general course to choose from, if you’re looking to study something quite niche and specific, a larger institution may be ideal. For example, we recently talked about the 5 best places to study law in the USA.\r\n\r\nOften, smaller universities don’t hold the same reputation as some larger universities. This may be unfair as there are some small institutions that lead the way in research in some fields; publishing renowned innovations and findings. Little known universities can find that their reputation doesn’t reflect their accomplishments and be easily overlooked. This is why most of the top universities in the USA tend to be the larger ones.\r\n\r\nWhilst some students like the close community feel of a smaller university, it isn’t for everyone. Attending a smaller institution means there are less people to meet, there could be a lack of diversity and for some, the tight-knit environment can feel a little too enclosed.\r\n\r\nIf you’re thinking of studying in the USA, then it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of possibly studying in a smaller place. If you decide that it’s the right choice for you, there are a number of excellent universities in the USA that are on a smaller scale.\r\n\r\nSome of the smaller, top universities in the USA, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings include:\r\n


  • California Institute of Technology
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  • Oregon Health and Science University
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  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
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  • University of Tulsa
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  • Florida Institute of Technology
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\r\nTo find out more about where to study in the USA, contact us here at IEC Abroad today.