There are so many great benefits to a small university. Coming from a small high school of 30 students total, the idea of attending a really big university and getting lost in the shuffle really freaked me out! This is a big reason why CMU caught my eye. Since I decided to attend a small school, I have not regretted my decision to attend CMU. In fact, it has helped me out tremendously!
Small class sizes
Small class sizes make a world of a difference! Being in a class of 20 students, as opposed to a class of 300, makes me feel a lot more comfortable to ask questions and participate in class. You also have the opportunity to really engage with the professors as well as with your classmates. You are not just another student; you are valued as an important voice in the class. Professors often acknowledge that learning and wisdom do not just come from the front of the class but from everybody in it. I cannot express how many times over the course of my classes we sat around in a circle as people shared their thoughts. Of course, being a PCTS (Peace & Conflict Transformation Studies) major, that’s bound to happen more than in a science class, but either way the professors value the student opinions just as much.
Connecting with professors
Being at a small university you can have more one-on-one time with your professors. This is extremely helpful if you have a question about an assignment, need clarification on a subject discussed in class, or simply if you are just wanting to talk more in depth about a particular topic. The best part is that you don’t have to book an appointment months in advance—if their door is open you are free to walk in and ask. Professors encourage you to talk to them because they love hearing what you find interesting or troubling you as you learn the material, and will help you find ways to apply your learning outside of the classroom. Overall, they want to see you succeed, in class as well as in life.
Another beautiful thing about being at a small university is that there is freedom in the curriculum. A small classroom provides you with the opportunity to go on field trips and have in depth personal talks as a class. A class I am currently attending, Youth Ministry, the professor surprised us with a surprise trip to IKEA where he bought everybody in the class something to drink. This is not something you have the option to do in a class of 300. Not only did we get a drink, but we also got to know the professor and the other students better outside of a classroom setting. In many of my classes I have also been asked, what subjects do you want to learn? We were asked what the burning questions are that we want to have answered in my Biblical Perspectives on Peace and Justice class. Again, the professors want the students to really engage with the material being taught so that it will be internalized instead of being simply forgotten.
Lastly, the great thing about attending a small university is that friends are easy to come by. There are many events that happen for both commuters and residence students. This is a great way to meet people quickly! I regularly hear my friends who go to larger universities talk about how hard it is to meet people, especially if you are a commuter. CMU strives to be an all-inclusive environment and aims to integrate the commuter students into the CMU community through events such as pancake or French toast lunches. For residence students, although you see many of the same people everyday by nature of living beside them, there are many events such as movie nights, foosball, pool tournaments, or building snowmen that build friendships.
Being at a small university allows you to take advantage of many benefits such as getting to know your professors on a more personal level, engaging more in class material, and having a unique curriculum that allows you to put into practice the things you learn in class. Through it all you are part of a community of people who can laugh and walk alongside you. For me, being at a small university has been a blessing in all these ways. I believe that attending a small university and taking advantage of these benefits, has prepared me for whatever my future may bring.