Large university vs. small liberal arts

Janet Bryant jl_bryant at
Tue Nov 22 18:16:12 EST 1994

In article <Pine.3.07.9411200902.A4488-b100000 at acme>, acaudy at FREENET.COLUMBUS.OH.US (Amy Caudy) says:
>>       I am a high school senior in the midst of the college scramble.  I
>> plan to major in microbio or molecular bio.  I have had a long
>> relationship with a local university of fairly good regional reputation
>> where I work on lots of DNA recombination, PCR, and some free radical
>> stuff.  It is a wonderful relationship, but the school is small.  Of
>> course, I would be able to continue my work and not have to beat my way
>> into labs for permission to wash petri dishes.  However, the department
>> has only 11 people (including zoo, botany, and microbio).  Alternatively,
>> I am considering some larger universities (Duke, Case Western, MIT,
>> Harvard).  Being with other highly intelligent students (as well as having
>> a critical mass of professors in research) appeals to me, but I want to be
>> sure that I have plenty of opportunities for research as an undergraduate.
>>  I plan to go for PhD if not also MD with the plans of becoming a
>> researcher.  My mentor at the small college has told me that I would
>> really be a hot graduate prospect if I got several papers out as an
>> undergrad.  He has said that the opportunities for publication would not
>> be as easy at a larger place.  I would be delighted to hear about any of
>> your experiences, either personally or on the net.  Thank you.
Amy:  It's been 18 years since I started my undergrad study at  a small
Midwestern Liberal Arts College.  If I had it to do over, I'd do exactly the 
same thing: small, Liberal Arts College. 

I had similar aspirations as you have now; I was published as an undergrad
(i'm a chemist and I made a compound that was thought to be too highly
strained to be stable....) so I looked for an excellent chemistry department,
interviewed the professors before I decided to apply, and talked to students
going there about their experiences.

If I may suggest, you need to decide on your personal learning style and
factor that (heavily) into your decision on the type and size of school.
I wanted to be taught by professors; not grad students.  

I wanted to have access to my professors (regular visitation hours; sometimes
to just dream science dreams or ask for advice)

I wanted to get a well-rounded education and not be only focused on math
and science that I missed literature and theatre and philosophy. (by the way,
I have a minor in psychology that I picked up along the way...and I costumed
every play done during the 4 years I was at the college.  Such fun!)

I concur heartily with another response you got that you need to experience
ALL of college life during your 4 years, or you will have done yourself a 
major life disservice!  College is as much about maturing and growing
as it is about a specific discipline.

Find the best environment to nuture you.

Best wishes for the future.

Janet L. Bryant             K7-94    Internet: jl_bryant at     
Engineering Technology Center          Voice: (509) 375-3765   
Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratories  FAX: (509) 375-6417
P.O. Box 999, Richland, WA 99352 U.S.A.     "mine, all mine!" Disclaimer

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