Generally, those universities with more than 15,000 undergraduates are considered to be large enrollment universities. Student populations among universities vary greatly. Many schools, including Texas A&M, Ohio State, and have an undergraduate enrollment in excess of 40,000 students. In our own backyard, Rutgers has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 35,000, far more than most towns in Monmouth County.

There are many factors to consider when applying to college, and the size of the school should certainly be one of them. What are some benefits of attending of these schools crawling with tens of thousands of students?

  • Larger schools are often state-funded, so they can come with a much lower price tag than a small, private school.
  • These schools are frequently found in more urban areas or suburban “college towns” that revolve around the university. As a result, housing and transportation costs are usually cheaper, and it’s not necessary to own a car in order to live. These schools generally offer more on or near campus housing options than a smaller, so it may be easier to find a nice budget-friendly place to live.
  • Do you want to major in something more specialized than Biology or English like Speech and Language Disorders? Big schools offer more degrees and a far wider variety of classes in which to choose. This virtually unlimited buffet of courses can be helpful for those who are still undecided in their major. Students in large schools have the opportunity to try out many different courses to find out what “clicks” for them.  All of these specialized departments have their own offices on campus to help students, and many have graduate assistants available for tutoring.
  • Since many classes are offered at at different times throughout the day, and even night, students at big schools  have more scheduling flexibility, making it easier to hold down part-time work.
  • Many entry level courses in large schools are held in  lecture halls, so those who like their anonymity and not comfortable with small discussion classes may enjoy “watching the show” at large colleges, who often have entertaining professors to keep an auditorium of students engaged.   
  • A more sizable undergraduate population also creates a bigger alumni network.  This translates into more funding, which may be used to build state-of-the-art facilities or a good endowment for scholarships.
  • Since large schools are frequently focused on research, they attract excellent teachers who are widely recognized in their field. This translates into more opportunities to work in research alongside high profile faculty.
  • Big universities simply have more: more libraries, more gyms, and multiple dining halls with different meal options. And when you are not studying there are more restaurants and other businesses catering to all of these students.
  • Large universities tend to have a more diverse student body, more clubs, and more extracurricular activities. With so many options, it may be easier to find a group to join, and meeting new people all the time is inevitable.
  • Sports fans may feel more at home in this setting, as bigger schools have more of an emphasis on games, rivalries, and school spirit.  For those interested in fraternities and sororities, there is often a stronger focus on Greek life on large campuses.

Any downsides to attending one of these big mega-schools?

  • It’s easier to get lost in the crowd on a big campus, so students need to be able to speak up for their needs and interests, and go after the opportunities they desire, and have the patience to deal with an administration responsible for servicing thousands of students just like you.
  • Since there can sometimes be less interaction with professors, smaller schools may be better for students who need extra help or motivation to learn.
  • Smaller schools offer more opportunities for leadership roles because there is less competition for them.
  • Smaller schools have a better faculty to student ratio and proportionally more administrative staff,so there is more individualized advising should you need some guidance or other assistance.

If you are a self-motivated learner who enjoys meeting new people and have a variety of new experiences, a large university may be just right for you.