When I was applying to colleges, I remember being attracted to both big and small schools. Both seemed to have their distinct advantages. After two-and-a-half years, I am beyond glad I picked the University of Massachusetts, and I am even more grateful that it is a big school. Here are some perks of bigger universities:
Bigger class selection
Any university with more than 20,000 undergraduates is bound to have a large variety of classes from which to choose. UMass has more than 180 course subjects under which classes are taught. These classes take the form of lectures, smaller discussions, seminars, individualized studies, laboratories, and studios. With so many courses to choose from, it is nearly impossible for you to not find something that interests you and fits into your schedule.
Many types of class sizes
Two of the main types of courses offered at UMass are lectures and seminars. Lectures are large classes taught on broader subjects. Some lectures have discussion sections, which consist of smaller groups of students in the course. Discussion sections meet once every week or so in order to further explore and/or clarify material. Seminars, on the other hand, are smaller by nature, and are discussion-based. Different class styles work better for different students. Shyer students who have excellent studying skills may tend to thrive in lectures, while social students may thrive in seminars. Either way, UMass offers enough of both to find the perfect balance.
Greater pool for networking
Similarly, college is the place you find your tribe. You are constantly surrounded by people your age, and being at a university with a lot of them gives you a greater chance of finding the right ones. Beyond friends, there are endless opportunities to meet potential mentors, business partners, and connections.
Undergraduate research is part of the UMass experience. Students have the chance to participate in course-related research, as well as foreign exchange, internships, faculty labs, and scholarships/fellowships — all through UMass. Some examples of student research experiences include Free Keys, a public art installation project that brought community pianos to various places on campus. Another is Digital Life, a project that uses Beastcam Array technologies to create 3-D models of living organisms. They hope to create models of endangered species, like frogs and sea turtles, in order to help educators, scientists, and conservationists. Check out more research experiences here!
With so many different types of people, you are bound to find others with similar interests and hobbies as you. There are hundreds of student-run organizations at UMass, like the Outing Club, which plans hikes and ski trips. Students and faculty also work together to plan concerts and tailgates. Hosted at the Mullins Center, these concerts feature famous artists like Cardi B and Big Sean and are free to students with their student ID. There are also many fraternities and sororities for those who are interested. In my opinion, Greek life is a great way for students to find a supportive community, get involved leadership experience, and participate in community service.
The best piece of advice I was given during my college search was that you can always make a big school smaller, but you can’t make a small school bigger. By joining the honors college, signing up for mostly seminar classes, and being a part of various programs, I have been able to enjoy the comfort of smaller circles, while also having the advantages of the many resources available at a big university.