Pros and Cons of Attending College or University in a Smaller Town
Movies and television love to depict young people attending college or university in “the big city” where parties, club nights, giant sports games, and crowded campuses are the norm. However, living in a city isn’t for everyone – sometimes not even for people who already live there.
Many students want a change of scenery when they go to university or college, including an entirely different place to live. Plenty of people who grow up in a city environment decide that they would rather live somewhere with a slower pace and smaller population. Since attending college or university often involves moving away from home anyway, it can make for a good opportunity to move to a smaller town or more rural area.
Like any other choice of college or university, there are pros and cons to choosing a smaller school in a more rural area over a larger institution in a city.
There are lots of benefits to living in a small community, and many benefits to attending a smaller college or university:
- Smaller towns are easier to navigate (and harder to get lost in), with fewer streets and smaller blocks. Often the “downtown” area will be primarily in a central location with the majority of shopping, entertainment, and restaurants within an easily walkable distance. This can be convenient for running errands or attending events, especially for students who don’t own a vehicle.
- Communities in small towns tend to be close, friendly, and supportive, which can be helpful for students living on their own for the first time. It is often easier to get to know your neighbours, your local store owners, and other students because you will see the same people regularly.
- Rental and living costs are often much less expensive in small communities and rural areas. This means students who have a limited budget can get “more bang for their buck” when it comes to things like rental housing.
Smaller colleges and universities — or more likely, satellite campuses to larger city-based universities —also offer a range of benefits to students:
- Smaller class sizes mean that students have more opportunities to stand out by joining discussions and contributing to group projects. Having fewer students also means that it is easier for students to get one-on-one, face-to-face interactions with their teachers when they need assistance or want to discuss a course assignment in more detail.
- There is often less competition for popular classes or activities in a smaller school with a smaller student population, which means students have a better chance of getting into the courses and clubs they want on the first try during registration periods.
- Smaller colleges often have tighter student communities, as students will often share multiple courses each year with familiar faces and get to know the students in their program really well. This can make it easier for students to get to know their classmates and form strong friendships, especially for those who find large crowds and crowded places less than ideal for meeting new people.
- These days colleges and satellite university campuses offer an education that is just as strong and in-depth as that offered at a larger school. They employ teachers and professors with the same high qualifications and expertise, and these educators in turn offer courses, research programs, and networking opportunities on par with big institutions. Smaller schools also tend to be less expensive when it comes to tuition, residence fees, and other student expenses.
Before making a decision, there are a few downsides to take into consideration when it comes to moving to a small community to attend a smaller school:
- Small colleges tend to have fewer school-owned and on-campus housing options, but in a smaller community there may be fewer off-campus rental opportunities, as well. Small towns are less likely to have large apartment complexes, instead offering a mix of small apartment buildings, townhouse rentals, and single rooms in shared houses.
- Small towns also have fewer entertainment options both on and off campus. Small communities are less likely to have large movie theaters, shopping malls or sports events, and if you are a foodie who likes to visit a new restaurant every weekend, you’re likely to find the options lacking. Smaller schools may not have much in the way of campus activities or sporting events, and fewer student clubs. It is also likely that a smaller community will have limited or no public transit available, which can mean that students require a car to get around or do errands.
- Small colleges might have limited course and program options to choose from, so it is important to make sure your chosen school offers what you want. This can mean limited flexibility for optional courses or program changes.
Whether you move to a small town for college or stay in the big city will all depend on what you want out of your college experience. Take the time to research your options and determine which option will give you the education and lifestyle you want!
CollegeRaptor. “Pros & Cons of Small Colleges.” https://www.collegeraptor.com/find-colleges/articles/college-search/pros-cons-small-colleges/
SchoolFinder. “The Top 3 Reasons to Consider a Small College.” https://www.schoolfinder.com/Discover/Article/1/4877/The-Top-3-Reasons-to-Consider-a-Small-College
Thaddaeus, Eze. “7 Top Smallest Universities in Canada.” Study Abroad Nations. https://studyabroadnations.com/smallest-universities-in-canada/