For many students, the size of the college or university they will attend is a significant factor when choosing schools. Universities can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of students in attendance. The student culture follows, ranging from intimate to nearly anonymous. While small colleges pride themselves on the diverse student body and a strong sense of community, many of the biggest colleges in U.S. history do, too.
The biggest colleges in America draw students in because of the unique experiences that come from attending a school that is large enough to be a town itself. These decisions can impact students in ways that influence them for the rest of their lives.
How do you find the right college for you? Are you interested in going to a large college? If so, it’s important that you do your due diligence on earning your college degree at a big university.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Attending the Biggest Colleges in America?
If you were to attend the biggest college in the U.S., what would your undergrad years look like? While you can’t see the future, you can give yourself the best chance of success at school when you arm yourself with the most important information available.
The largest schools in the country draw tens of thousands of students for many good reasons. Larger schools typically offer more majors, more research opportunities, more student-run organizations, and the best faculty members in their respective fields.
A Wider Selection of Majors
If you aren’t sure about your future goals, a big university offers many opportunities for experimentation. If you are confident in your chosen major, you can still take advantage of the opportunities you find interesting to develop your skills and hone your talents.
Additional Networking and Job Opportunities
Large universities have bigger alumni networks, translating to more potential networking opportunities. This can often mean more job opportunities and internship programs, not to mention opportunities to study abroad.
More Experiences, More People
Attending the biggest school in the U.S. will also put you in the vicinity of a larger pool of people than a smaller school can. By meeting more new people, you will have the opportunity to expand your cultural horizons.
This also means you will be exposed to more intramural sports, social organizations, niche clubs, volunteer opportunities, and other extracurricular activities. Above all else, you will be able to make more new friends, too!
The Cons of Attending the Biggest Colleges in U.S. History
If you were to attend the biggest college in the U.S., what would be the negative aspects of that choice? The answer is different for everyone, of course. Still, there are some drawbacks of going to a big school that are somewhat more universal than others.
You Can Feel (and Get) Lost
In general, the bigger the school, the easier it will be for students to get lost — physically and figuratively. It generally isn’t as simple to navigate large campuses, and this opens up more possibilities for getting lost.
In addition, students who are more introverted, withdrawn, private, or hesitant to reach out and speak to others can find themselves getting “lost in the crowd,” figuratively speaking.
Less Attention from Faculty
With more students on campus naturally comes less personalized attention from professors.
Students who want a college that will allow them one-on-one attention from their teachers may not be happy with a university where many of the classes are held in 500-seat lecture halls.
What Are the Biggest Colleges in America by Enrollment?
When talking about the biggest schools in the country, there are several top contenders. If you’ve got your heart set on attending a big college, you might want to consider one of the following schools:
The University of Texas at Austin — 51,525 Students
The University of Texas at Austin is comprised of 18 colleges and schools, including the famous School of Nursing, Cockrell School of Engineering, and McCombs School of Business.
Here, students enjoy the world-famous “weirdness” of the city of Austin when they take breaks from the hundreds of majors and programs available. UT Austin has been a true first-class university since 1883!
The University of Minnesota — Twin Cities — 51,848 Students
As one of the biggest colleges in U.S. history, the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus offers over 150 undergraduate majors, over 550 professional and graduate degrees, and thousands of research and internship opportunities.
The U of M also has more than 900 student organizations for students to participate in and discover new skills and new friendships. With a faculty and staff size numbering over 20,000, students are never far from engagement in academics and more.
The University of Florida — 52,669 Students
Located in Gainesville, Florida, this college is a public land-grant research school. With origins dating back to 1853, the school has been in operation at its current location since 1906.
At UF, students have more than 300 different degree options to consider between 16 unique colleges. They also get bragging rights for attending one of the nation’s five best public universities!
Florida International University — 56,851 Students
This large university is located in Miami and is the only public research university in the city. FIU offers more than 300 academic associations and interest groups, 17 athletic teams in the NCAA, and over 200 college degree programs.
Students enjoy unique organizations like the Table Tennis Club, the Greek Culture Club, and hundreds of others. Plenty of other extracurriculars are available at FIU, including everything from intramural sports to honor societies.
The University of Maryland, University College — 59,379 Students
The pride and joy of Maryland, this large college was founded in 1856 and was named the Maryland Agricultural College. Located in College Park, the university is a prestigious research university famous as an institution of entrepreneurship and innovation.
This public land-grant university is the flagship school of the university system of Maryland and offers endless opportunities for students to participate in hundreds of extracurriculars.
The Ohio State University — 59,837 Students
Located in Columbus, Ohio, OSU is a public land-grant research university with the country’s third-largest campus in terms of acreage (1,764 acres). It also has five other Ohio campuses, research facilities, partners, and organizations throughout the state.
OSU offers more than 200 majors and more than 1,000 student organizations, keeping students busy in and out of the classroom.
The University of Central Florida — 66,183 Students
UCF is located in Orlando, with several regional campuses throughout the state. With more than 40 fraternities and sororities, 220 major degree programs, and unique majors like golf management and aquatic biology, few colleges top UCF in terms of opportunities for students.
Texas A&M University — 67,580 Students
Located in College Station, Texas, this university is the only college in the state designated as a sea, land, and space grant university.
Texas A&M is a renowned research university comprising 10 colleges, 18 research institutes, and a campus that spans 5,200 acres!
California State University, Fullerton — 30,000 – 45,000 Students
At the Fullerton campus of CSU, you’ll find the largest of the 23 college campuses that make up the California State University system.
More than 2,000 faculty members teach at the school, and 109 different degree programs exist between undergraduate and graduate colleges.
Liberty University — 30,000 – 45,000 Students
Liberty University is the biggest college in the U.S. and one of the five biggest Christian universities in the world. It’s located in Lynchburg, Virginia, and has 17 schools and colleges.
Liberty offers over 600 courses, and with plenty of student organizations and extracurriculars available, students never suffer from a lack of new experiences.
Is a Large University Right for You?
Every college in America, from the smallest to the largest, has something unique to offer its students. A large university might be right for you if you are looking for the following:
- State-of-the-art research facilities
- Well-funded sports programs
- A wide array of housing options
- Many academic choices and student activities
- Well-equipped libraries
- Distinguished faculty
- Larger classes and lecture-hall setups
On the other hand, if you think a small college might be right for you, the following will appeal to you:
- More personalized attention from faculty
- Professors teach most courses (as opposed to teaching assistants)
- Strong close-knit sense of community
- Hands-on learning opportunities
- Personalized majors
- Small class sizes
- Strong advisement systems
Some large universities have plenty of characteristics typical of small schools, and vice versa, making the opportunities at all American colleges exciting!
Find the Best College in the U.S. for Your Goals
To best assess the schools that are right for you, visit the campus, participate in recruitment activities, and speak with current students, alumni, and college advisors. Start researching different colleges early in your high school career, and you’re sure to find the ones that suit you best.