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What are the most important factors to consider in choosing between small, medium and big schools?

Are there important questions I should be asking myself that will help me find the right match?  In terms of opportunities, are there big differences between schools of different sizes?

Jane H.


Students should be focusing on their own learning style and the types of environment in which they will thrive. Do you enjoy being anonymous? Having faculty and other students know your name and whether or not you are an active participant in class? Lecture style teaching or discussion based learning?

One big dichotomy is small liberal arts college versus larger university. Some students benefit from and prefer smaller liberal arts colleges that tend to focus on undergraduate teaching and learning and where it can be easy for students to form relationships with their professors. Others prefer a larger university with many different colleges or schools under that umbrella which may offer a much broader array of courses to choose from, more research opportunities and the chance to be anonymous. Since applicants often have to select which school within the university they are applying to, students who are applying to larger universities who are “undecided” about major will usually need to apply through the college of arts and sciences.

When applying to a small liberal arts college you apply to the college at large and do not necessarily have to indicate the choice of major. Of course, many liberal arts colleges will ask you to indicate intended major if you have one but you do not have to know that up front. When applying to a larger university, you will have had to identify which school within. And that process of choosing may have caused you to narrow or specify area of focus. For that reason applicants who are undecided might find the process of applying to liberal arts colleges more straight forward and open ended.

Jane H., MBA, has a proven record of providing personalized guidance to help students identify, apply and gain admission to the best colleges for them. She explains what colleges are looking for and why. She visits colleges and meets with admission officers to learn about their educational programs and institutional priorities. She teaches how to secure merit aid and that students have more control than they think.

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