Small colleges often come with big benefits

Deciding what university or college to attend is one of the biggest decisions in a person’s life; it sends a message to future employers, influences your connections as a post-graduate and is ultimately where you will spend the so-called best four years of your life.

High school seniors often overlook smaller universities in favor of the big-name recognition of institutions such as UGA or Auburn. Of course these universities are well-known for good reason – impeccable academics, competitive sports teams and vast network of alumni to connect with post-grad – however they also come at a higher price tag and are lacking in other, possibly more valuable, departments.

With just over 12,000 undergraduate students, UWG is on the smaller size for a state university. Because of the student population size, students have less competition for on-campus opportunities such as Student Government Association, paid positions in student media or Greek life. At bigger universities, the sorority recruitment process spans over two weekends and can see pledge classes of upwards of 60 girls. Contrastingly, UWG recruitment lasts four days and tends to have around 30 girls in a pledge class. This thereby leads to smaller chapter sizes and closer relationships among the individual members.

Similarly, UWG class sizes average around 30 students, disregarding core lecture courses, while UGA stuffs up to 40 students into any given class. This seemingly small difference in student to professor ratio allows for a more intimate class room and gives students a better opportunity to develop student-professor relationships that may later lead to a letter of recommendation, the chance at assisting on research or a position as a teaching assistant.

Perhaps the largest and most common factor weighing on the mind of incoming freshmen as they decide on a university is financing. If a student is paying for college through loans, they will likely chose a more economic institution to keep their loans somewhat manageable. UWG tuition for an in-state student not receiving the HOPE scholarship was estimated as $6,956 per semester for the 2014-2015 academic year, while UGA tuition was $10,836. Multiplying for full four academic years, which comes to an extra $32,000 on education expenses. For students financing their own way through school, that number could be so daunting that it could lead them to opt for a smaller, less expensive school.

As I began the odyssey of choosing the right college, I swore I would never end up at UWG. My sister went here, the small-town atmosphere gave me major cabin fever and when I mentioned the name to anyone, they had usually never heard of it. But eventually, it came down to cost and proximity to my family, so here I am – two years later and unable to picture myself anywhere else. I’ve been able to integrate myself through multiple campus organizations, cultivated relationships with professors and am able to watch this campus grow at an integral part in our history.

1 thought on “Small colleges often come with big benefits

  1. I completely agree with this. I went from a small high school where I was a stand-out student to a large research university where I was just another valedictorian on my floor in the dorm. I was too immature to be on my own, and since the professors paid no attention to whether I came to class or not (I mostly didn’t), I ended up on academic probation by the end of my Freshman year. I would have been MUCH better off going to a school like West Georgia where the faculty care about students. You can always go to a big-name school for graduate school, but if you are like I was just starting out, you need to go where “everybody knows your name.”

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