First of all, I’m well aware of how confusing the title to this post is. The website collegedata.com defines a “small” college as a college with fewer than 5,000 students. The problem here at Gonzaga is that if you look at our undergrad population, we sit at a healthy 4,837 students, which means we’re a small school. However, the total number of students enrolled is 7,352, which means we’re a midsized college. I’m sure you can see my struggle here.
Anyways, we’ve already dealt with more numbers than I like using on my blogs, so let’s just dive in and look at some of the reasons going to a large-small school/small-midsized school/tiny-big school is pretty swell.
1. The Classes Are Small, But Not Overwhelmingly So
Gonzaga likes to brag about many things (basketball, its community, Bing Crosby), and among the top of that list is the fact that its average class size is 21 students and its student to faculty ratio is 11:1. When I first came to GU, I was surprised at how much the classes felt like high school (in size, not in difficulty; I’m not a philosophy major).
With such a small class size, professors actually know your name and some of them even become concerned if you don’t show up to class because the newest season of House of Cards dropped. That being said, classes are usually large enough that you don’t usually feel pressured to participate if you don’t want to.
2. The Professors Actually Teach You
After talking to my friends at large state schools, I was a little shocked when I found out some of their classes are taught almost entirely by TAs. While I’m sure that some TAs are very smart, capable people, I can’t even imagine that happening at school where classes only have 20 people.
3. It’s Easy To See Your Friends
I have absolutely no problem with large state schools, but one thing I would be concerned about going to a school with more than 30,000 students is getting lost. Assuming I’d even be able to make friends at a large school (which is a pretty grand assumption) I’d imagine it would be pretty rare to run into them while walking around campus unless I made a real effort. At a large-small school, I can’t walk anywhere without seeing at least five people I know, which makes me look like I have friends when my parents visit campus.
4. It’s Also Easy To Avoid People You Don’t Want To See
Not everybody you meet will be A+ people, and it’s quite possible that you may not want to see them more than you have to. At a school with only 1,500 students, I feel like it would be impossible to avoid those people. Obviously this is just an assumption and I’m sure that if you’re particularly crafty you could probably find a way, but it would still be difficult. One of the cool things about a school with around 5,000 students is that it’s not too difficult to avoid certain people if you so choose.
5. The Longest Walk Is Maybe 15 Minutes
You don’t really need a car at Gonzaga. If you do have a car, then I’ve probably asked you to drive me to Taco Bell and in that case I apologize. With a large-small campus, the worst walk on campus is only about 15 minutes and it doesn’t feel that bad. I’ve gotten out of bed five minutes before a class started and have still been on time, so a smallish campus is definitely a plus for the lazy among us.
6. It’s Easy To Be Part Of A Community
My personal favorite part about a school the size of Gonzaga is how easy it is to build community. With a smaller campus, you get to know a lot of other students really well and have an immediate bond when you see them off campus. With large schools, students tend to create their own communities through Greek life, clubs, sports, etc. When you go to a large-small school, both of these traits combine to form that strong sense of community you hear so much about at Gonzaga and schools like it.