Like other small universities in Florida, St. Thomas University wants to change the “bigger is better” mindset when it comes to higher education.
When you look more closely, you’ll find there are significant benefits to attending a smaller school. Some may surprise you. Others you may not have considered. Taken together, they make a compelling case to keep small universities in Florida like ours on your shortlist.
So, before you choose which university to attend, consider these eight advantages in the context of your personality, learning style, and career aspirations.
1. Smaller Class Sizes
At a small university, you won’t be walking into an auditorium for your next class, you’ll be joining a handful of other students in a space designed for conversation and debate. Classroom discussions help you develop essential communications skills and truly engage with the material.
In contrast, large class sizes typically rely on lecture and objective tests, which don’t allow for as much critical thinking and self-expression.
Most importantly, smaller class sizes will give you more opportunities to talk with your professor and ask questions. At St. Thomas University, our faculty-to-student ratio is 11:1. This gives our professors ample time to craft a learning experience that works for each of their students.
2. Classes Taught by Professors, Not Teaching Assistants
Speaking of faculty attention, large universities often rely on graduate students to teach introductory classes. This allows tenured professors to focus on research. However, teaching assistants have minimal experience. They’re also trying to balance their own coursework. It’s not an ideal scenario, especially if you’re struggling with a tough subject in your first semester and need help.
At small colleges, teaching quality is the main criterion for advancement, so professors put more focus and effort into preparing their classes and being accessible to students. And even if you have a teaching assistant at a small university, their class size won’t be so large that they can’t give you the attention you need.
3. Personalized Academic Path
Most graduates of a small university will tell you that their academic advisor was instrumental in their personal and professional growth. Whether you need help selecting classes, getting that perfect internship, or creating a specialized learning path, your advisor will be your go-to throughout college. You want that person to have time for you and know you as a person, so they can offer the most helpful advice.
It’s also easier to tweak your curriculum to suit your particular goals. Large institutions are less flexible about requirements, making it difficult to customize your academic path without a lot of bureaucracy.
St. Thomas University prides itself on providing a personalized learning experience with professional academic advisors who focus on students first.
4. Higher Graduation Rates
A strong academic advisor translates into more students graduating — and on time! With the right guidance, you’ll avoid missing deadlines, retaking classes, or taking classes you don’t need. And if a personal issue arises, you can rely on your advisor to help you make the best decisions possible.
While you should enjoy your college experience, adding a few semesters to earn your degree often means paying more in tuition and fees. At a small university, the added attention will make sure your time and dollars are spent wisely.
5. Less Bureaucracy
Small universities have deadlines and requirements, just like their larger counterparts. But with any institution, the bigger it gets, the more layers there are. You’ll often encounter a bit of red tape with most college processes – admissions, registration, financial aid, housing.
If you get easily frustrated by this, you might do better in a smaller setting where you know the university staff — and have an advisor to help you navigate.
6. More Financial Aid Opportunities
While small private universities can be more expensive than large public institutions, they often have significant financial aid packages that can close the gap. Private colleges work hard to attract a well-rounded student population, and financial aid is a key strategy.
Small universities have the advantage of supportive alumni, who make generous gifts and endowments, sometimes for specific programs and majors. Plus, unlike most state schools, most private colleges can give scholarships to almost every student.
At St. Thomas University, 93 percent of students in the 2018-2019 school year received scholarships. Even more impressive, we’ve granted approximately $15 million in institutional scholarships in the 2017 & 2018 academic year. We’re committed to making our campus accessible to all aspiring learners.
7. Close-Knit Campus Community
A smaller social community can be reassuring for students nervous to start their college journey. If you’re struggling with anything, whether it’s a class, relationship, or feeling homesick, you’ll have a close group of roommates, classmates, and teachers who can make sure you’re thriving in your new environment. Plus, all the resources you need are close by and easily accessible.
St. Thomas University has a Student Success Center designed just for this purpose. The goal is to eliminate gaps from admission to placement to academic advising. With a single point of contact, you’ll never feel lost.
8. Active Alumni Networks
While there are certainly pockets of community on a larger campus, it’s hard to replicate that sense of familiarity and connectedness that arises at a small university. That’s part of the reason small universities have such active alumni networks.
Graduates from small schools often form close alumni circles, which are invaluable for networking later in your career. Even if you didn’t graduate together, the bond of your alma mater could open doors you’d never expect.
All these reasons add up to an exceptional student experience while you’re on campus — and a substantial advantage when you enter the workforce. If you’re considering small universities in Florida, contact us to see if St. Thomas University is right for you.