Spring has brought out all of the college tour groups! I know decision deadlines for you high school seniors are coming up fast; if you’re on the fence about attending a larger university because of all of the stereotypes surrounding them, I want to take today to let you know that they aren’t all true. I absolutely love going to a bigger school (read why here) and knew I wanted attend one despite any stigma surrounding state universities. Needless to say, it was probably one of the best decisions of my life (no exaggeration). Here’s hoping the following 7 things will help lead you to your second home!
1. You’re just a number.
This is probably the big school stereotype that frustrates me the most. Even with tens of thousands of other students, you are still a person and your university will recognize that. Faculty, staff, peers, employers, and the rest of the world will not think of you as a cookie cutter student, forever blind to what makes you you.
There is so much more personalization at a big school than one might expect. Between the hundreds of clubs, research opportunities, professional connections, Greek life, sports, and campus events, you have more than enough resources available to tailor your college experience. Yes, big schools have numbers, but it’s what they offer to us that continues to impress me every day.
2. Professors are always inaccessible.
Obviously some professors will be better than others, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be mainly taught by people who will go out of their way to help me. Many are prompt with email/ forum questions and upload a lot of useful files to the class webpages. If you can’t make office hours because of your schedule, they are often more than willing to make a separate appointment to help you.
If your professor is seriously lacking, there are plenty of other people who are seriously open to meeting you! I’ve been basically networking my way around campus, getting to know various faculty/staff as each person gives me another name to go meet. I know bigger schools attract many intelligent people in academia for their own personal research and that’s what they care about and focus on, but there are still so many brilliant minds available to you for anything. I promise there will always be an open door somewhere!
3. Lecture halls are huge, loud, and packed.
Will you sometimes have class with a hundred people? Yes.
Will it be terrible? Usually not.
Here’s a little secret: the closer you sit to the front, the smaller the class feels. You won’t be as distracted and the professor will likely recognize you. In fact, this semester I was in Target and my statics professor somehow remembered me and walked over to say hello. I only have five professors to remember and I had no clue who he was in the moment, but for some reason, out of all of his students, he knew me!
And don’t worry- between labs, problem sessions, seminars, more specific (i.e. foreign language), and higher-level classes, you will get the smaller, more intimate class feel throughout your schedule. It’s usually a good mix and at the very least you get to meet a lot more people!
4. It’s impossible to feel at home.
A big campus is practically its own little town. You have everything basically in walking (or bus) distance and obviously you spend all of your time there. You will find your people. You will find your go-to spot for studying or food (guess which one is my priority 😉 ). You will find how to make campus work for you. Going to a bigger school doesn’t make any of this more difficult; if anything, it makes it easier because it gives you so much more room to grow and figure yourself out.
No matter where you go to school, you should come to think of it as your second home. In my opinion, you know you’ve made the right choice when you start referring to school as “home” and where you came from/where your parents are as “home home!”
5. You’ll constantly be lost and late.
Okay, so you’ll probably get lost a few times during your first week. You’ll also probably wake up for your 8:30am class at 8:15 and have to sprint across campus to make it on time at least once. But hey, it’s all part of the freshman experience! You have a ton of places to explore and you will eventually know all of campus like the back of your hand. You’ll figure out all of the student pile-ups between classes and all of the shortcuts to avoid those traffic jams. Let me tell you, finding any way to shorten a 15 minute walk is pretty magical. 😉
6. There’s no sense of a unified community.
One may think that with so many diverse students, it’d be next to impossible to unify them together as one community. For me, though, I always say my favorite thing about my school is our sense of community, the sense of belonging. It completely blows my mind that I could feel at home with thousands of other people even though I’ve never met most of them. Big schools are amazing at bringing a large student body together under a single distinguishing mascot/color/symbol/you-get-the-idea and pumping everyone up. Don’t believe me? Go to a university football game (bonus points if it’s in the South) and let me know how overwhelmingly awesome that sensation is for you.
7. All anyone cares about are the parties.
I don’t party and I don’t drink. I’ve never felt judged, alienated, or like I’m missing out for choosing that for myself. Everyone I know is incredibly driven and focused on going places with their future career. They make school a priority and their life does not revolve around the next party. We come to school to learn and we pay a lot to do so. If someone’s priority is to party every night, believe me, they could do it for a lot cheaper. Just because a school is large or public doesn’t mean it’s lenient in any respect. You have to work to get here and you have to work to stay here!
Obviously, I love my school so, so much. It’s given me more than I ever could have hoped for. I know big universities aren’t for everyone and that’s okay; just make sure you aren’t basing your huge decision on untrue, extreme stereotypes and you’ll be fine!
~ What big school myth drives you crazy?