Growing up we were all bound to have family members who encouraged us to go to their alma mater (which is usually a state school or well-known university) and talked about how much fun their experience was at college.
Big colleges are great, do not get me wrong. The campuses are beautiful and can extend for miles (even through highways and popular cities), the atmosphere is always fresh since you are constantly seeing new faces, and most buildings and halls are extremely large in order to provide a space to fit all of the students.
Between junior and senior year of high school, teenagers all across the world start thinking about where they want to go to college (if they do, in fact, want to go). Everyone applies to at least one college that is well known and has a population of over 20,000 students or higher; it just happens.
During my senior year of high school, I applied to three big colleges and one small college as a safety school. After receiving all of my notifications from those schools, I found out that I had been accepted into one big university and the safety school, rejected from one big university, and wait-listed and later denied to my top choice due to the fact that 20,000 students applied and they could only accept around 8,000 applicants. I had a choice to make: Would I go to the big university or the small safety school?
In order to decide, I visited and toured both campuses. First up was the big university. I have to say that being there was a bit overwhelming for me. From the time I got on the campus to the moment I was getting in my car to leave, I could barely walk anywhere without bumping into other people. Some may like how they do not see the same faces every day or like that they blend in with the crowd, but it just did not feel like a place I would want to call home for the next four years.
Later that month I revisited the small school, Radford University. The first time I visited was over winter break, so there was not really anyone on campus to show me what a typical college day looked like. This day, however, opened my eyes. I had always thought that Radford was just a smaller version of my top choice, James Madison University, and in many ways it was. The campus had the same “outdoorsy” feel, and it was not too small — definitely not less than 5,000 students attending. In fact it is actually pretty big for a small school with a population of around 10,000 students. Everywhere I went, people were smiling and were friendly to each other, and that made me feel welcome.
After that visit, I decided Radford University would be my new home. Now and then people will ask me if I will ever reapply to JMU or transfer to a different school, and each time I say no because Radford turned out to be the best place for me. The campus is small enough that it takes no more than five minutes to get from one side to the other on foot, the town itself is beautiful, and I have already made tons of friends I know I will keep in touch with after graduation.
Big, well-known colleges are great and have incredible opportunities for their students to experience, but they are not for everyone. Going to a university that does not have an outrageously large campus (so big you could get lost in it) or where you are just a number is amazing to me. The fact that my classes range from 20-50 students is perfect, because I get to know my classmates and our professors know our names and do not just refer to us as a number.
Even though Radford is not a big school, it has many highly-accredited programs, such asThe School of Nursing and The College of Business and Economics where college students really have to work hard in order to even be considered for the program. For example, in order to have a good chance of getting into Radford’s Nursing school, a student has to have maintained at least a 3.5 GPA and has to have a good student record (no charges or something of that sort). Radford University has Division 1 sports teams who recruit international students from all over the world. It is constantly improving the academic buildings and the technologies students can use in class, and has over 250 clubs and organizations for students to get involved in.
So yes, I do attend a school that is considered “small.” But this “small” university has more than I have ever wanted in a college, and I am so glad I decided to go here.