The Perks of Attending a Small School

Some of them might surprise you

If you had told me at the beginning of my college search that I would end up at a small, suburban liberal arts college, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I always envisioned myself on a large, urban campus, and yet I couldn’t be more happy at small, suburban Swarthmore. I cannot imagine myself anywhere else. I think that my yearning for a larger school stemmed from my experiences at a very small high school. I felt that a larger school would grant me unlimited opportunities and a constant supply of new people to meet. Having attended Swarthmore for two years now, I have been solidly converted in favor of smaller schools. If you don’t yet believe me, here are some of the benefits I’ve experienced from attending a small school. 

  1. You will get to know your professors, and professors will get to know you. Unsurprisingly, attending an institution with an 8:1 student to professor ratio has its perks. Even in my largest classes, my professors have always somehow learned my name. A smaller school and smaller classes mean that your professors are more available to chat about last Friday’s test, the paper you just got back, or even a shared hobby. 
  2. You can always find someone to sit next to. Be it in a seminar, Sharples, or in Sci 101 awaiting a guest speaker, I never have trouble finding someone I know to sit next to. This may sound trivial until you’ve experienced the minor dread of scanning a classroom only to find that you don’t know anyone, even remotely. Swatties are generally friendly and easy to talk to, so this scenario really wouldn’t be much of a problem, but being on a small campus almost ensures that you will find a familiar face wherever you go. 
  3. Traditions are even more important and meaningful. Swarthmore is a campus steeped in tradition, and Swatties take their traditions very seriously. It’s likely that a ninjagram will be delivered in one of your classes, and the smallness of our student body intensifies the secrecy leading up to Screw Your Roommate. Not to mention that there’s nothing like bonding with the kid in your intro to psychology class in the middle of Primal Scream.   
  4. Nothing is ever very far away. A small student body means a small-ish campus. I mean yes, the campus is technically 425 acres, but nothing is really more than a five minute walk (unless you live in Mary Lyon dorm, in which case it’s a pleasant 10 minute walk). 
  5. Extracurricular activities are accessible. Due to our small size in proportion to our wealth of extracurricular activities, getting involved is far less daunting than at a larger institution. It is likely that you’ll already be acquainted with at least one member of the club or organization you’re interested in. Swatties love to recruit their fellow students into their clubs and publications, and I think that has a lot to do with our close knit community.

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