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Big vs Small Universities

A photo of kaloolah kaloolah
When is a small school better? Are small class sizes the way to go?
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A photo of Zion Zion
Small school = more interaction with classmates and faculty.

I don't think I'd want to go to a school with less than 10 000 people, it would feel too much like high school.
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A photo of 123abcuwo 123abcuwo
Class sizes typically get smaller & smaller in your years 2, 3, 4, etc. even in the large universities. For instance, UWO is considered a large school, and it's first-year poli sci class has 400+ people. However, a typical 4th-year poli sci class is limited to 25 people. It's different depending on what program you're going for.

In first year, though, a small school will have smaller classes, more interactions with profs (and not TAs), and profs tend to know your names & mark your work. A large school, on the other hand, will have larger classes in the hundreds, less/no interaction with profs (profs won't know your name; they basically show up to give lectures, but you can still visit them in their office hours), tutorials are run by TAs not profs and TAs mark your essays. That's a general overview, but it's different for every course & as you move up the school years and class sizes decrease, the level of interaction you get with classmates & profs at a large school is similar to what you'll find in a small school (again, depending on your program).

It depends on what's important to you. There's often a sense of community & closeness at smaller schools that you won't find in a commuter university like UofT, but the large research-intensive universities tend to get more funding and have world-renowned profs. A large university can be really lively, as there'll always be stuff going on everywhere all the time.
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A photo of lmao lmao
Hmm... I would pick a large school because school reputation matters a lot to me. There aren't 'small schools' in Canada that have a good international reputation.

UofT, McGill, UBC, Waterloo, Queen's, UWO, McMaster, Alberta - all pretty large aren't they?
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A photo of danselikeme danselikeme
Most universities here in canada are pretty large generally, but the smaller the university, the smaller the class sizes, which means youll get to know your classmates and teachers better.. and thats generally better.
However, if a school is TOO small, its too much like high school..
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A photo of littleroom littleroom
Don't forget that in a large school, there are a lot more research/volunteer opportunities.
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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking
I kind of have the best of both worlds - big school (~35000 undergrads) but small classes (20-30). My program only has 160-180 students in each year, so except for my elective courses, all my mandatory courses are small. Students are on a first name basis with the profs and Dean (I have some of them on Facebook as well), and it's really nice to still feel close to teachers, much like in high school.
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A photo of littleroom littleroom
inthemaking, what school and what program?
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A photo of anita.tran anita.tran
Smaller schools mean smaller classes which lead to more interaction with your teacher and classmates. You would probably get your question answered faster in a smaller classroom than a larger one.
Larger schools would mean huge classes but probably much more clubs, extracurricular activities for you to join, and more sports.:bball:
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A photo of forthewinwin forthewinwin
Depends on what I'm doing. I've had this argument with people countless number of times.

Business: Competitive world. Networking matters. Going to go to the biggest name school possible. It's funny because here in BC the two "main" schools are SFU and UBC, and a lot of the SFU business graduates haven't been having luck lately, while 91% of last year's UBC BComm graduates found work. Besides, I like the idea of a big firm recruiting me if I get nice grades.

Nursing: Nurses are in high demand, so if I were to be a nurse, I wouldn't mind too much about where I went, although I would still like to slam a big name onto my resume.
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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking

@littleroom wrote
inthemaking, what school and what program?



Health sci at Mac
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A photo of sycra6961 sycra6961
personally, i enjoy getting really involved with the school i am in, so i would find a smaller or middle sized school to feel more like home. plus i come from a very small high school, so going to a large uni would probably scare the crap outta me! haha
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A photo of JulieSkater JulieSkater
Small classes are good, but you don't want to pick too small of a school or program if that means giving up on some of the resources of a larger school. I am planning on going to Laurier (a relatively small university) but I am alsi planning on going into Business, one of their largest programs.

They still have all the resources i need, and a good coop option as well as international recognition and exchanges, so I am not worried.

I am from a small town of 33,000, my high school is only 750 people so anything over 10,000 seems huge to me!!
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A photo of shesoartsy shesoartsy
small schools will give you more of an opportunity to see your profs and ta's, whether be questions regarding assignments or key concepts discussed during lecture. More questions answered will help with attaining better grades.
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A photo of tatec tatec
I have a question that is mildly related to this topic.

I plan on applying to a grad school (in what, I don't know) after this. So, are they more likely to accept me if I have a high GPA (3.8-4.0) in a smaller school, ie Trent or Algoma, or a lower GPA (2.8-3.5) in a well-known school, such as U of T?

Will they take into consideration the possible differences in curriculum?
And I understand that there are less opportunities (volunteering,unequipped labs, etc) in a smaller school but will they really hold that against you?
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A photo of Ba Ba Blue Ba Ba Blue

@tatec wrote
I have a question that is mildly related to this topic.

I plan on applying to a grad school (in what, I don't know) after this. So, are they more likely to accept me if I have a high GPA (3.8-4.0) in a smaller school, ie Trent or Algoma, or a lower GPA (2.8-3.5) in a well-known school, such as U of T?

Will they take into consideration the possible differences in curriculum?
And I understand that there are less opportunities (volunteering,unequipped labs, etc) in a smaller school but will they really hold that against you?



I go to Trent. I know quite a few people go on to get Ph.Ds and M.Ds. The point is that no matter where you go, you have to try your hardest. You'll likely find something somewhere.

Also, don't think the curriculum differences are significant. I do the same calculus as most of Ontario (Stewart's Calculus text book). Me and my friend at UTM compared psychology curriculum - there were a few things that he covered and I didn't and a few things that I covered that he didn't but it was the same amount of material.

The difference is that in Trent we're being taught by people who are less prestigious in their fields (in terms of research) than the ones at U of T for example. That said, anyone with a master's degree will have enough knowledge to teach undergraduates; Ph.Ds are just an added luxury.

As for the involvement opportunities, they still need lab assistants and such things at Trent. They post all the opportunities on our intranet and I've seen a few openings. Also, you can always apply for involvement opportunities around the community. Don't feel it's the size of the school hindering you from achieving your goals - go out and find other places to beef up your resume.

In all, I prefer a small university. My one visit to UTM had me overwhelmed and so I decided from then on I'd keep things small.
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A photo of tatec tatec

@Ba Ba Blue wrote

@tatec wrote
I have a question that is mildly related to this topic.

I plan on applying to a grad school (in what, I don't know) after this. So, are they more likely to accept me if I have a high GPA (3.8-4.0) in a smaller school, ie Trent or Algoma, or a lower GPA (2.8-3.5) in a well-known school, such as U of T?

Will they take into consideration the possible differences in curriculum?
And I understand that there are less opportunities (volunteering,unequipped labs, etc) in a smaller school but will they really hold that against you?



I go to Trent. I know quite a few people go on to get Ph.Ds and M.Ds. The point is that no matter where you go, you have to try your hardest. You'll likely find something somewhere.

Also, don't think the curriculum differences are significant. I do the same calculus as most of Ontario (Stewart's Calculus text book). Me and my friend at UTM compared psychology curriculum - there were a few things that he covered and I didn't and a few things that I covered that he didn't but it was the same amount of material.

The difference is that in Trent we're being taught by people who are less prestigious in their fields (in terms of research) than the ones at U of T for example. That said, anyone with a master's degree will have enough knowledge to teach undergraduates; Ph.Ds are just an added luxury.

As for the involvement opportunities, they still need lab assistants and such things at Trent. They post all the opportunities on our intranet and I've seen a few openings. Also, you can always apply for involvement opportunities around the community. Don't feel it's the size of the school hindering you from achieving your goals - go out and find other places to beef up your resume.

In all, I prefer a small university. My one visit to UTM had me overwhelmed and so I decided from then on I'd keep things small.



Thank you very much for your insight. I'm still a little worried though. There's a huge frenzy right now as people are applying for Ivy schools in the States. Based on what was said previously, is there really no point in pursuing a big-name university at this point?
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A photo of canta93loupe canta93loupe

@tatec wrote
Thank you very much for your insight. I'm still a little worried though. There's a huge frenzy right now as people are applying for Ivy schools in the States. Based on what was said previously, is there really no point in pursuing a big-name university at this point?



Well. If you can get into an Ivy and do really well, then yes, there is a point. I have a family friend who went to Cornell for her undergrad who's doing research for a renowned scientist at a well known hospital. She's also just applied to med school. But those are the really, REALLY exceptional people.

I think for undergrad though, it really doesn't matter anymore where you study. Because most people tend to go on to grad school and where you study for that actually matters. If you want to go to a really good grad school in the States (like Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown etc.) then going to a larger, more prestigious university for your undergrad in Canada tends to be better. Because when it comes down to acceptances, the admissions people for these schools DO take into account prestige. So if it's a student at McGill vs a student at Ryerson University who both have 4.0 GPAs, they're going to go with the McGill student.
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A photo of kaylamarie kaylamarie
Smaller school's are the way to go!
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A photo of Tobias Tobias
I say big...of course there's the problem of huge classes and less attention from your profs but I like the environment of a larger community. Smaller places are sorta dead looking and gloomy. Not always but usually bigger places tend to have better and newer stuff eh?
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A photo of StephanieScott StephanieScott
I think there is more opportunity in a bigger university and you get the better experience but smaller schools can be better if you want to feel more like a high school student, where every teacher knows your name and such.
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A photo of maggie2092 maggie2092
I've been accepted into a small university (StFX @ about 4200) and a larger university (Dal @ about 17000). I go to a high school of about 800 students, and I live in a town of about 9500. I can't decide if the small or large university life is for me. The more and more I think about it though, the smaller university sounds more and more appealing.
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