Last week, I wrote about the “cost” appeal of large public universities. This week, I am focusing on the tremendous opportunities they can provide.
Opportunities Offered by Large Public Universities
- Majors/fields of study
- Student Organizations
- Research Opportunities
- Cultural Diversity
University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign (UIUC), which I recently visited with my middle daughter, offers over 150 majors. That seems insane when compared with colleges with 5,000 or fewer students that typically offer less than 100 majors. For the student who isn’t sure what to study, this can be a definite plus – more to choose from, more to try out, and definitely less risk of deciding you want to study something that isn’t even offered at your school. There are over 1,000 registered student organizations to participate in. At small schools, there are usually less than 100 student organizations.
Opportunities go beyond just majors and student organizations. At many large public universities, research is a major focus. Undergraduates can find great opportunities to get involved in fascinating research studies, both as participants and as assistants.
Don’t forget about the sports. In addition to massive football stadiums and basketball arenas filled with screaming fans (think Big Ten or other major conference), large public universities offer a wide variety of intramural and club sports that any students can get involved in. Most also offer state-of-the-art workout facilities.
Cultural diversity is also prevalent at large public universities. Back to my UIUC example – it is the #3 university in the United States for international students. It attracts students from all over the world.
Think of a large public university as a microcosm representing a large metropolitan area. These campuses really are like their own cities offering everything a student would need either right on campus or close by, including restaurant and shopping options. A student population of 20,000 or more attracts many more businesses in the surrounding area than a student population of 5,000 or fewer.
Are large public universities for everyone? Of course not. Some students will be much more comfortable in a smaller environment. My advice to parents is just don’t assume that your child won’t be interested in one. You might be surprised. The first wave of college visits should include visiting campuses of all different sizes to help your student narrow down what feels most comfortable to him or her. Find out if size is going to be a deciding factor or if your student is fine with schools of all different sizes.
The cost/value and opportunity at large public universities may be appealing enough to keep them on your student’s college list.