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Large vs. Small Colleges and Universities: Advantages and Disadvantages

We know you have many things to consider as you investigate opportunities to complete your degree. From the type of program to format to school size, there is a lot to think about as you begin this important journey. One of the key deciding factors our students have shared with us over the years is school size, and what we have learned from our students and graduates is that one size definitely does not fit all.

Large Colleges and Universities

There are many benefits to attending large institutions. From name recognition to broad alumni networks to a more diverse offering of programs, large schools appeal to prospective students for a variety of reasons. And because of their brands, larger colleges and universities can sometimes appeal to more notable faculty members who participate in research and publishing in academic journals. Additionally, a greater volume of students also helps keep tuition rates stable.

However, with those advantages, there are a few tradeoffs that can be off-putting to some students, especially adult learners. Larger schools equal larger class sizes, which means faculty have less time to get to know students and assist them. Financial Aid, admissions and advising staff work with a high volume of students at large schools, which means individual students may not receive as much personalized attention or may have to deal with long wait times for assistance. Additionally, lower-level courses are often taught by Graduate Assistants rather than full-time faculty—with the difference being that full-time faculty have years of experience teaching their disciplines while Graduate Assistants are still learning their disciplines. And, while tuition can sometimes be more stable at larger institutions, many schools charge multiple fees per semester to help offset the costs of managing a higher student population.

Small Colleges and Universities

On the contrary, small colleges and universities offer benefits that larger institutions cannot. Class sizes are typically small, allowing students to develop personal relationships with faculty and classmates. This leads to a more hands-on learning experience for students, both online and in the classroom. Additionally, a smaller population of students means institution employees such as Financial Aid counselors, academic advisors and support staff have more time to devote to each individual student. Further, smaller colleges and universities allow for a stronger sense of community leading to a more fulfilling and rewarding student experience and more effective networking with classmates, career services staff and alumni.

Smaller institutions may not have the big name recognition as the larger schools, but the benefits mentioned above can far outweigh any disadvantages. For example, here at Tiffin University, we are fortunate to offer the best of both large and small institutions. With affordable tuition, smaller class sizes (usually 10 to 15 students), distinguished and experienced faculty with real-world experience, personalized attention from institution staff (including your own dedicated advisor) and 57 online and on-campus degree and certificate programs for adult learners, there are many benefits to choosing Tiffin University. But don’t just take our word for it—check out what our online students and staff have to say:

“The teachers at Tiffin are amazing! Anytime I have a question or am unsure if I am completing an assignment correctly, my professors have always been there to lend a helping hand and their response times are very fast! ” – Andrea M., Master of Humanities

We know everyone has real-life situations and things happen. We can email your professors on your behalf, to start the conversations when needed. Advisors and professors go above and beyond and offer more than office hours—we’re there for you.” – Ashley V., Assistant Director for Online Undergraduate Advising

“The staff really care about their students, and they are always open and willing to do what they need to do to make you successful. The school is very active and does many things for their students like; giving out free tickets to sporting events (even for distance learning students), which is awesome as it gives you the opportunity to socialize with the staff and other students.” – Shawn S., BBA Management – Human Resource Management

“My experience with Tiffin has been one of the best. From day one, everyone at Tiffin has been so supportive. From my advisor who personally reached out to me to help with every step of the application, admissions, and program process, to the financial aid department who happily answered many of my questions, you can tell that they cared and actually wanted to see me be successful.” – Michael S., M.Ed. in Higher Education Management

“When I think of flexible, I think of how TU is willing to do everything within reason to help someone succeed and graduate. Our motto is ‘if there’s a will, there’s a way.’” – Scott S., International Admissions

“The experience offered by Tiffin University’s School of Business, led by the outstanding faculty, is capable of effectively preparing students for any and all future academic and occupational endeavors. I felt as if TU truly cared about my development, not only as a student, but as a person.”  – Kyle L., Master of Business Administration

And… “’Someone actually called me back.’ We hear this a lot, and while it may seem small, we know it’s a big deal for our students. We strive to do all we can to offer personalized support for our Dragons because we know how important this journey is to them, and we are honored to be by their side.” – Zac B., Assistant Director for Online Admissions

As an adult learner, you have a lot to evaluate when choosing the best institution for your education. Ultimately, the decision will come down to where you believe you will receive the best support based on your needs. If the benefits of a smaller institution sound good to you, we are here to help. And, for our new Dragons who have enrolled or are preparing to begin, congratulations and thank you for choosing Tiffin University!

For more testimonials from our students and graduates, we invite you to read through our Student Spotlights and Testimonials on our blog.

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