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Big vs. small universities: Which is best for you?

The University of Western Ontario.

The Globe and Mail


Dr. Amit Chakma, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

When it comes to university, small does not necessarily mean better.

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Large, research-intensive universities such as Western offer students a multitude of academic choices at the undergraduate, professional, graduate and postgraduate level. Our scale also enables us to offer a wider variety of co- and extracurricular opportunities, including more on-campus jobs and volunteer experience, service-learning projects in the broader community, research and co-op internships with industry partners, student exchanges and study-abroad programs with partner institutions around the globe, and a huge range of on-campus activities involving clubs, associations, student government, intramurals and varsity sports.

Larger schools also have the capacity to offer a wider variety of services and facilities that enrich the student experience. For instance, our libraries, residences, dining and shopping options, academic support and career development services, and our sport and recreational facilities all provide students with an exceptional range of choice that is difficult to replicate on smaller campuses.

Big schools also tend to attract a greater diversity of students and exceptional faculty from across the country and around the world. This creates a learning environment that exposes students to more global perspectives and a wider network of classmates and future fellow alumni – all of which translates into a richer education.


Dr. Robert Campbell, Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B.

A smaller school offers a personal experience; whether in class, in residence, in clubs or on campus, professors and staff get to know and connect with individual students.

Focusing on its undergraduate mission, quality teaching is an institutional priority, delivered by full-time, accessible professors who prioritize student learning.

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Smaller classes provide a greater opportunity to participate and connect with professors and classmates.

The undergraduate setting affords significant opportunities for students to do hands-on, significant research in classes and on their profs' research projects.

Given intimacy and small scale, students can create personalized degrees that reflect their interests and capabilities.

There is easier access to university activities, from campus clubs to residence life, from sports to social and political activities.

The school's humanity and intimacy offer ready support and guidance to students, both personally and professionally.

Personal interactions in class, in residence and in campus activities encourage lasting friendships and relationships that assist individual success at university and beyond.

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The smaller university setting presents a genuine community that students themselves help to build and cherish – at present and in the future.

A smaller university encourages a deeply immersive and engaged experience that is all-encompassing, potentially transformative and of enormous value.

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