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December 21, 2013

It’s only as small as you make it.

Once, someone asked me on a panel: “Wouldn’t you say a small school means small opportunities?” I’d like to think I gave them a good answer – a good reason on why no. But blogging about it gives me a much larger opportunity to speak about why I think this idea isn’t a correct one. And I was actually really happy they asked me about it – because I’m a transfer out of a larger sized school (UVM – ~12,000 total enrollment). I must warn you here though – this won’t be a post about school bashing.

Because larger schools do have some great opportunities. But – what I think is lost sometimes – is that Clark is able to not only match these schools appeals, but then beat it.

 

Research

As a first year, I was able to be a research assistant for a graduate student (turns out though — he didn’t know I was a first year — thought I was a sophomore or junior… ha, awkward). It was fun. I have a good friend who stayed at UVM and she got to do similar things – run her professor’s data, put it in a spread sheet, do some statistics, add one extra variable, slap it on and call it an Honors project.

But at Clark – I’ve done my own projects for 3 years. Independent. I did the interviews. I did the data collection. I transcribed, analyzed, concluded, and presented. And in this, I’ve been published four times! (Check out #2-4 here and the most important one so far here). I’ve presented in Chile and this year am presenting in Brazil and in the Hague!

Because at most places, you can get experience if you want it. But at Clark – you can take that experience as far as you want it. I know a lot of people who enjoy the more dependent, working with a professor work. They get the experience they want and need. But I’m not an only case here – another girl in my lab is traveling with me to the Hague and another girl is writing a manuscript to be included in a book next year.

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Clubs

More students = more clubs, yes? In some senses, yes, but comparing number wise, you’ll see that doesn’t taper off as much as you think. Clark offers over 120 clubs and — with a smaller population, you get to use the budget for more things you are specifically interested in. Beyond that, the clubs are smaller here – so if you want to get a leadership role, it’s pretty easy to do so. I’m President of two clubs and Captain of the Ballroom team because — well, why not?

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With this many people, you already begin to forget what small is.

Identity + Family

The last argument for a larger school is that you just dealt with a really small high school, that’s not what you want anymore. You want to be able to redefine yourself. Try out new things. Meet new people. And yes, large schools can do that.

But any college can give you that. Drama, cliques — they go away. I’d say that they go away even more at smaller schools because you begin to meet the same people – and it’s not a “find a group to survive this mass amount of people” but “find everyone because we’re going to get through this together.” You can redefine yourself wherever you go. And Clark has a great statistic – 12% International students and 19% ALANA – which means you’re meeting an extremely diverse, vibrant, lively community.

For me, I was a geeky nerd back in high school. More video game oriented, some drama club in there — but didn’t really mind. I tried turning it around in 11th/12th grade, but coming to college, I knew I had one more shot. So, now I’m “that Ballroom/Blogger of the Century/Admissions/Psychology/Luxembourg guy.” It’s much better. And I love it. I chose my first school because a girlfriend was going there. I thought I needed to bring a friend to make a friend. But instead, I made none. Instead, coming to Clark, putting myself out for the whole school to accept me as I was by myself – I found who I was and what I love. And I found a family who accepted me for all of that.

And I guess – that’s Clark. That’s a small school. Clark gives you everything a large school can give you – but with a more perrsonalized focus. What else could you want?

 

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