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Large Schools

By Jill Kuhlers
Director, Scholar Recruitment Programs, University of Iowa

Too often, college choice focuses on being a big fish in a little pond, or a little fish in a big pond. But who is to say you can’t be a big fish in a big pond? The diversity, opportunities and possibilities of a large campus help foster active leadership, create unique opportunities to interact with faculty, and, most importantly, allow you to make a name for yourself both inside and outside of the classroom.

The world is changing rapidly. The opportunities available at a large institution allow you to cross boundaries between fields of study and boundaries between countries. The focus is on a broad knowledge base, familiarity with other countries and cultures, and transferable skills. Large institutions encourage you to think globally, and offer the individual courses, minors, certificates, and majors that will let you focus on the issues most important to you.

Large Universities have the resources to help you sharpen communication skills, learn new languages, strengthen writing skills, and explore new technologies. Classrooms and computer centers are wired to bring real-world, real-time information. Also, the flexibility that comes with a larger campus allows students to focus on problem-solving both as part of a team and as an individual. Opportunities for clinical rotations, cooperatives, internships, and research abound. Best of all, if you change your major, it is highly unlikely that you will have to change your school.

One of the biggest myths is that you can't finish an undergraduate degree in four years at a large campus. That just isn't true. In fact, many large campuses offer guaranteed graduation plans. In those eight semesters, you will find faculty from top graduate programs also teaching your undergraduate courses. It is not unusual to find that the professor teaching your class is also the person who wrote the textbook you will be using.

Diversity on large campuses extends far beyond the composition of our student body. It is found in the course offerings and in the extra-curricular involvements available to that student body. Because there are hundreds of opportunities and no one group has the majority of students involved, everyone is free to explore entirely new areas and find his or her own niche. You can step out your residence hall door and find world-class museums, active cultural centers, nationally renowned libraries, big-time athletics, and ground-breaking research—all without leaving campus.

You can always make a large place feel smaller by the people that you meet and the involvements that you have. You can never take the opportunities of a small place and make them larger than they really are.

About the School

The University of Iowa is a major national research university with a broad-based liberal arts foundation. Established in 1847 as Iowa's first public institution of higher education, it has won international recognition for its wealth of achievements in the arts, sciences, and humanities. US News & World Report ranked The University of Iowa as the 19th best public university in the country. Iowa's 2004 fall enrollment was 29,745 and included students from every state and 131 countries. The University is located in Iowa City, a community of 60,000 in eastern Iowa.