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rdh1991
Posts: **602**Registered User Member

I don't know if this exists anywhere, but does anyone know where I could find the avg class size of many schools. Is there a forum of it somewhere? Or maybe a website?

Post edited by rdh1991 on

## Replies to: Avg Class size?

4,863Registered User Senior MemberI suggest you focus less on the average class size and more on the % of classes that are offered at various sizes, eg, less than 20 students, 20-50 students, and 50+ students. There is a lot of data available on this from USNWR and I post below some data for the USNWR Top 50 National Unis and the USNWR Top 25 LACs.

In particular, focus on the colleges that offer a high percentage of small classes as this is a prerequisite for the highest quality classroom experience. This can also be an institutional statement that undergraduate education is a priority and that there is the financial wherewithal to deliver classroom environments where students can easily interact with each other and with their professors.

As for larger classes, once you get over 50-75 students in a class/lecture, the difference between 75 students and 200 or 300 or 500 students is almost immaterial. I think it is obvious that you should try to avoid situations where there is a large percentage of classes over 50. The consequences of the large class size are that:

1) you will be far less likely to have the opportunity to develop any type of meaningful relationship with or interaction with the professor

2) the quality of your peers and their potential contributions are minimized. Schools with the top student bodies will usually minimize large class sizes so that students can benefit from interaction with their peers and their professor

3) there is potentially a lot of teaching that will be done by graduate students whose command of the English language is often lacking.

% of classes with <20 students , National University

OUTSTANDING

76% , Columbia

75% , Harvard

75% , Yale

75% , Northwestern

74% , Stanford

74% , U Penn

74% , Tufts

73% , Princeton

72% , U Chicago

72% , Wash U

70% , Duke

70% , Brown

VERY, VERY GOOD

69% , Caltech

69% , Yeshiva

68% , Rice

68% , Emory

67% , Vanderbilt

66% , Brandeis

65% , Johns Hopkins

65% , Carnegie Mellon

64% , MIT

64% , Dartmouth

64% , USC

62% , UC Berkeley

62% , U Rochester

62% , Case Western

62% , Tulane

60% , Cornell

GOOD

58% , Georgetown

58% , NYU

57% , Wake Forest

56% , Notre Dame

53% , UCLA

53% , Rensselaer

50% , UC Santa Barbara

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

49% , U Virginia

49% , W&M

49% , UC Irvine

48% , Boston Coll

47% , Lehigh

44% , U Michigan

44% , U North Carolina

44% , UCSD

44% , U Wisconsin

41% , U Florida

40% , Georgia Tech

38% , U Illinois

35% , U Washington

35% , UC Davis

35% , U Texas

33% , Penn State

% of classes with <20 students , LAC

OUTSTANDING

96% , US Military Acad

86% , Claremont McK

76% , Haverford

75% , Amherst

74% , Swarthmore

74% , Hamilton

73% , Williams

72% , Pomona

71% , Middlebury

71% , Davidson

71% , Bryn Mawr

70% , Oberlin

VERY, VERY GOOD

69% , Bowdoin

68% , Vassar

68% , W&L

68% , Smith

68% , Macalester

67% , Wellesley

64% , Harvey Mudd

64% , Bates

63% , Carleton

63% , Wesleyan

63% , Colgate

61% , US Naval Acad

61% , Colby

60% , Grinnell

% of classes with >50 students , National University

OUTSTANDING

1% , Yeshiva

2% , Wake Forest

4% , U Chicago

4% , Tufts

5% , Duke

VERY, VERY GOOD

6% , Emory

6% , Vanderbilt

6% , Brandeis

7% , U Penn

7% , Northwestern

7% , Rice

7% , Georgetown

7% , W&M

7% , Boston Coll

8% , Yale

8% , Caltech

8% , Columbia

8% , Tulane

9% , Harvard

9% , Dartmouth

9% , Wash U

9% , Brown

9% , Carnegie Mellon

10% , Princeton

10% , Notre Dame

10% , Lehigh

10% , Case Western

10% , Rensselaer

GOOD

11% , Stanford

11% , Johns Hopkins

12% , MIT

12% , USC

12% , U North Carolina

12% , NYU

12% , U Rochester

14% , UC Berkeley

14% , U Virginia

I HOPE YOU LIKE BIG CLASSES

16% , UC Irvine

17% , Cornell

17% , U Washington

17% , UC Santa Barbara

17% , Penn State

18% , U Michigan

18% , U Wisconsin

19% , U Illinois

20% , UCLA

20% , U Florida

22% , Georgia Tech

23% , U Texas

28% , UC Davis

30% , UCSD

% of classes with >50 students , LAC

OUTSTANDING

0% , Davidson

0% , Claremont McK

0% , Vassar

0% , Grinnell

0% , US Military Acad

0% , W&L

0% , Hamilton

0% , US Naval Acad

1% , Wellesley

1% , Pomona

1% , Carleton

1% , Haverford

2% , Swarthmore

2% , Bowdoin

2% , Colgate

2% , Oberlin

2% , Bryn Mawr

2% , Macalester

3% , Amherst

4% , Williams

4% , Middlebury

4% , Harvey Mudd

4% , Smith

4% , Colby

5% , Bates

6% , Wesleyan

7,573Registered User Senior Member272Registered User Junior Member633Registered User Member7,481Registered User Senior MemberMy S chose a school that is not on hawkette's lists. It's something like the #30-ranked USNWR LAC. But, 61% of its classes have fewer than 20 students, and 0% have over 50. There should be a number of other schools that meet these criteria.

2,005Registered User Senior Member7,224Registered User Senior MemberThat's why the numbers given above by hawkette are misleading. I don't believe for a second that 1/2 or more of all the undergrad

classesat any UC school have 20 or less; those are the discussion sections.748Registered User Memberthe common data set has a separate section for discussion sections. they are not being counted unless a school is misreporting numbers, deliberately or otherwise. i suspect this is rarely the case.

the real issue is that people confuse the percentage of classes of a certain size with the percentage of classroom experiences of a certain size. simply, there are more students in large classes.

assume that the average class with more than 50 students has 100, that the average class between 20 and 50 has 35 and that the average class with fewer than 20 students has 15.

under these assumptions, a full 44% of classes taken by students at uc berkeley have more than 50 students and only 29% have fewer than 20. compare these numbers to those at grinnell, which actually reports a smaller percentage of small classes than berkeley. there, 0% of classes taken have more than 50 students and 39% fewer than 20.

(for those not following along, imagine a semester schedule at a school with one class taken by the entire 1000 person student body and 300 classes with 10 students each. with each student taking the required large class in addition to three small classes each semester, a full 25% of each students classes would be enormous despite that large class comprising less than 0.5% of the schools offerings as reported by usnews.)

23,666Registered User Senior Member7,481Registered User Senior MemberO.K., but suppose that the average class with more than 50 students has 51, that the average class between 20 and 50 has 49, and that the average class with fewer than 20 students has 19. In that case, 23% of the classroom experiences are in "large" classes, and the large classes tend to be only modestly large.

But now, suppose (for the sake of argument) that the average class with more than 50 students has

2000, that the average class between 20 and 50 has 21, and that the average class with fewer than 20 students has1. In that case, 98% of the classroom experiences are in "large" classes, and the large classes tend to be astonishingly large.This second set of assumptions is unrealistic. But as a matter of fact, according to their 2007-08 CDS numbers for all UC Berkeley classes with 50 or more students, almost half have an enrollment of 100 students

or more. So I do think Eric's "44%" is based on a reasonable set of assumptions.It's true, Berkeley does offer over 3600 courses. The majority have enrollments of fewer than 50 students. It's also true that a significant percentage of total undergraduate class time is spent in classes too big for the professor to get to know the majority of students.

7,481Registered User Senior MemberA top-25 LAC with 2000 students is more likely to offer about 400 courses to Berkeley's nearly 4000.

But to answer the question, the LAC is better. The majority of courses are less specialized, increasing the likelihood that the material is of general interest and importance to the average educated person. Virtually all the class time (not just half or 2/3 of it) is spent interacting with an expert in a group that is small enough to explore most student's ideas.

Better still, for some, is the rare case of major research university with a world class faculty that still manages to have only a tiny percentage of courses enroll more than 50 students.

23,666Registered User Senior Member396Registered User Member7,224Registered User Senior MemberHowever there is one additional trick I suspect large schools are playing to help generate the surprising number of small classes that hasn't been mentioned yet. When you do an undergrad thesis or honors project, you enroll in a class to get credit for your time. Cal, for example, reports over 1200 classes with 2-9 students!! I wonder if these 198 & 199 (the course designation usually used) account for some of this?

5,492Registered User Senior MemberGraduate level classes are not open to a majority of the university population, I'm betting.