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!
But What About Small Colleges?
Choosing to attend a small college offers numerous benefits and advantages for students seeking a personalized and intimate learning experience. With smaller class sizes, students have the opportunity to form close relationships with professors, fostering a supportive and engaging academic environment. The individual attention received at small colleges allows for more personalized instruction, mentorship, and guidance, enabling students to fully explore their academic interests and excel in their chosen field of study.
Small colleges often provide a tight-knit community where students can develop lasting friendships and connections. The smaller student population promotes a sense of belonging and camaraderie, creating an inclusive and supportive social atmosphere. Students at small colleges often have more opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, student organizations, and leadership roles, as there is less competition for limited spots. This involvement in campus life enhances personal growth, interpersonal skills, and the development of a well-rounded individual.
At small colleges, students have the advantage of easier access to resources and facilities. With fewer students vying for the same resources, it becomes easier to secure research opportunities, internships, and access to specialized equipment and facilities. This hands-on experience provides invaluable practical skills and enhances future career prospects. Moreover, the close relationships with faculty members can lead to strong recommendation letters, networking opportunities, and mentorship connections that can positively impact post-graduate endeavors.
Another significant benefit of attending a small college is the flexibility and adaptability it offers. Small colleges often have more flexible curriculum requirements, allowing students to customize their education to align with their unique interests and career goals. Students have the opportunity to explore diverse subjects, engage in interdisciplinary studies, and pursue individualized research projects. The flexibility in course selection and personalized attention from faculty enables students to receive a well-rounded education that caters to their specific aspirations and passions. Attending a small college provides a host of benefits, including personalized attention, a supportive community, enhanced access to resources, and greater flexibility in shaping one’s education. The close-knit environment and personalized approach fostered at small colleges create an enriching and nurturing experience for students, promoting academic success, personal growth, and long-lasting connections. When considering higher education options, the unique advantages of small colleges should be carefully weighed to find the best fit for individual preferences and goals.
Find the Best College in the U.S. for Your Goals
Opting to attend a large college comes with a range of benefits and opportunities that can greatly enhance the college experience. One major advantage is the extensive academic offerings available at big colleges. With a wide variety of majors, concentrations, and specialized programs, students have the flexibility to explore diverse fields of study and find their true passion. Large colleges often have renowned faculty members who are experts in their respective fields, providing students with access to top-notch education and cutting-edge research opportunities.
Big colleges typically boast robust resources and facilities that can enrich students’ academic and extracurricular experiences. Extensive libraries, state-of-the-art laboratories, well-equipped athletic facilities, and art studios are just a few examples of the comprehensive resources available at large colleges. These resources provide students with ample opportunities to engage in hands-on learning, pursue research projects, participate in athletic or artistic endeavors, and develop valuable skills that will benefit them throughout their lives and careers.
Networking and connections play a crucial role in students’ post-college success, and attending a big college can provide a significant advantage in this area. The large and diverse student population at big colleges offers countless opportunities for students to meet peers from various backgrounds, cultures, and disciplines. Building a broad network of connections during college can open doors to future collaborations, job opportunities, and mentorship relationships. Big colleges often have extensive alumni networks, which can be a valuable resource for career advice and professional connections.
The vibrant and dynamic campus life is another appealing aspect of attending a big college. With a larger student body, big colleges typically offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations catering to diverse interests and passions. Students can engage in sports teams, join student government, participate in cultural clubs, and explore countless other opportunities for personal growth, leadership development, and community involvement. The bustling campus environment at big colleges ensures that there is always something happening and creates an exciting atmosphere for students to make lasting memories. Attending a big college provides a wealth of benefits, including a wide range of academic offerings, access to extensive resources and facilities, opportunities for networking and connections, and a vibrant campus life. The large-scale nature of big colleges opens doors to diverse experiences, expanding students’ horizons and preparing them for the challenges and opportunities of the real world. When considering higher education options, students should carefully consider their preferences and goals to determine if the advantages offered by big colleges align with their aspirations and desired college experience.
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.