An Ode to Small Schools

Jillian Currier, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Going to a small school like MCLA can have both positive and negative aspects to it, but many students here are grateful for the experience.

It’s not every day that students are hand-picked and invited to meet a successful alum from their major to sit down and talk to one-on-one. It’s also not every day that students are specially asked to talk with a reviewer to evaluate the ups and downs within their department.

The experience of a small college community is truly unlike anything else— in both good and bad ways.

I’m not here to talk bad on MCLA or pick on the small details that are given at a smaller school, in fact I love this school. It’s close to home, offers the area of study I’m interested in, and has given me some of the best experiences of my life.

It’s just that once it gets to a certain point, there’s things that you can’t ignore or push aside.

When home for the long weekend, I met up with one of my good friends who goes to New Paltz. She was telling me all about her classes and her professors, and how she has only had a repeat professor once or twice.

I told her about the professor I’ve had every semester without fail since my sophomore year, and how he teaches almost every class for my major. She was completely shocked.

It’s one of the good things about this school that many people may think negatively about. Getting close with my teachers in high school was one of the reasons I had so many good opportunities and growth in academics. And in college, it’s almost exactly the same.

I’ve had a professor reach out to one of his past students to see if he had any internship availabilities for me for the summer between semesters. I’ve had a coach give me a shoulder to cry on and life advice when going through a breakup, because they’ve been in my exact position and knew how it felt. I’ve had a professor secretly give me extensions on a project simply because I mixed up the due date with another assignment.

If I went to a larger school, these things wouldn’t be possible for me. And for that I am grateful.

But sometimes, it starts to become a little too much. The lines start to get blurred, and you start to think too much about decisions you make in order to avoid hurting people’s feelings.

I’ve had to send an email before missing a class for a concert I’d had tickets for months, because I respected the professor and enjoyed the class. I’ve made the point to have a meeting in-person to discuss missing one practice, because I know they’d respect that more over a text.

But these small decisions start to become more important than they really are because of those close relationships. It becomes less like “I’m missing this class,” and more like “I hope you don’t hold this against me.”

Because when you think about it, other students at larger schools don’t think twice before skipping class for a concert. They don’t even think twice about skipping class just to skip class.

They just do it, with no questions asked, and nothing to overthink.

And although these moments sometimes feel like they’ll ruin your life, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve learned so much from these kinds of moments, and have experienced so much growth from them too.

So even though my largest class size is seven, and I could name everyone in my department, I’d rather have that any day over a 700-student lecture hall.