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Find out What Advantages Small Colleges Can Offer

CCEdit_TorreyCCEdit_Torrey Editor Posts: 216 Editor
Dave Berry investigates the positives of attending a small college: https://www.collegeconfidential.com/articles/advantages-of-a-small-college/

Replies to: Find out What Advantages Small Colleges Can Offer

  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 7,253 Senior Member
    edited April 17
    The writer, Dave Berry, contrasts his first year experience at Pennsylvania's Lycoming College (a small school of about 1,200 students) with his three years of experience at 40,000 student (just counting the undergraduates) Penn State University during the 1960s after a 3 year break for military service. Despite the praise for Lycoming College & the criticism of humongous Penn State University, Lycoming's first year retention rate is only 80% while Penn State retains an impressive 93% of its students.
  • HapworthHapworth Registered User Posts: 482 Member
    edited April 17
    An 80% retention rate is fine, especially for a school of Lycoming's stature (a nice LAC that seriously flies under the radar; a good comp would be Albion in MI). The national average is 61%. There are lots of factors that go into a school's retention rate, just as there are lots of factors that go into a school's graduation rate. Penn State is a very expensive public institution that has received criticism for being priced higher than many in PA can afford. Wealthy schools always score higher in retention rate and graduation rate. This is why it is important to understand what is happening *behind* the numbers. That US News thingie loves to cull raw data without caring what the numbers mean in context. This is why its annual rankings are really just a listing of schools according to wealth.
  • circuitridercircuitrider Registered User Posts: 3,242 Senior Member
    The thing that I remember most are the many written papers that stood in place of a final exam and the sense of pride when I got my first "B" (!!!). I think I can count the number of proctored, "blue book" style exams on the fingers of one hand. I think Music 101 may have been one of them. I also remember knowing virtually all the staff by name; we always said "Good morning, Mrs _____" to the cleaning lady assigned to our dorm and similarly to the husband and wife who ran the college store and post office. The campus was so far removed, both physically and spiritually, from the daily distractions of anything resembling a big city that the term, "ivory tower" was a very common, very apt, description. And, of course, it helped to actually like that kind of atmosphere. :)
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 7,253 Senior Member
    edited April 17
    While I disagree that an 80% attrition rate is acceptable for a school as tiny as Lycoming College, I do acknowledge that both Penn State and Ohio State as well as the University of California system have a lot of large classes. This is not true at elite private National Universities, however.

    Also, with respect to the point raised above about the cost of Penn State, it is not expensive--about $18,454 in state tuition--versus $40,090 for Lycoming College. (Not including room, board & books.)
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,095 Senior Member
    Publisher wrote:
    While I disagree that an 80% attrition rate is acceptable for a school as tiny as Lycoming College, I do acknowledge that both Penn State and Ohio State as well as the University of California system have a lot of large classes. This is not true at elite private National Universities, however.

    Elite national universities can have large classes, at least at the lower levels.

    Example: https://registrar.princeton.edu/course-offerings?term=1194&subject=COS
  • gonzaga35gonzaga35 Registered User Posts: 27 Junior Member
    Lycoming has an 80% retention rate, not an 80% attrition rate
  • simba9simba9 Registered User Posts: 3,253 Senior Member
    As an undergrad, I attended both Ohio State (50,000 students) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (3000 students). I much preferred the latter. All the advantages of a small school that Berry listed were things I also experienced.
  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom Registered User Posts: 944 Member
    Lycoming also gives virtually everyone accepted $20k merit. Penn State gives none to OOS, I believe. Lycoming was cheaper for S17 than our in-state publics, although S17 ended up at an in-state public. Love Lycoming.
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 7,253 Senior Member
    Of course, elite private National Universities can have large classes. For example, Princeton University reports that 10% of classes have 50 or more students which is similar to Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Penn, JHU, Dartmouth College, Brown & Notre Dame. But the vast majority of classes offered are below 20 students. For example, Princeton reports 76% of its classes have fewer than 20 students while Lycoming's figure is 69%. Of the National Universities listed in this response, only Dartmouth College (65%) & Penn (68%) report a lower percentage.

    It is easy to romanticize one's first year at a small college, but I wonder how the author would have felt after 4 years at this tiny school.
  • lostaccountlostaccount Registered User Posts: 5,409 Senior Member
    "... This is not true at elite private National Universities, however."

    On what planet?
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 7,253 Senior Member
    @lostaccount: Univ. of Chicago, Northwestern University, Duke University, Dartmouth College, Tufts, Boston College, College of William & Mary, Georgetown University, all report that percentage of classes with 50 or more students at 6% or 7%.

    Wake Forest reports just one (1%) per cent.

    Columbia, Yale, Vanderbilt, & Rice all report 8% or 9%.

    So while more than LACs (other than Barnard College's 8%), nothing like the UCSD's 35% or UC-Davis' 28%.
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