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Small Colleges in Cities Offer Advantages for International Students to Earn their Degree or to Study Abroad

International students who attend small colleges in cities have many opportunities that make their educational experience unique. Small colleges offer students nurturing staff, small classes, and a cohesive student body. Cities are cultural and business centers that offer students access to internships, social, and cultural activities that are not available in rural communities. For many students, a small college in a city is the perfect match for their educational needs, whether they plan to earn their degree abroad or spend a semester as a study abroad student.

One advantage of small colleges is class size. For example, in many smaller colleges, class size averages twenty students. Large colleges often have three hundred students in a class. Small classes can lead to a better relationship between professors and students. Students are able to work directly with professors and receive individualized attention. This close relationship benefits both the students who excel in their field of study and the students who may need extra help in a subject. Students also enjoy the experience of a tight-knit community that develops at small colleges. Recent graduate, Javier Fernandez, an international student from Spain, feels he has a much closer relationship to teachers and staff than he would at a large college, and he is more comfortable participating in class because of the small class size. Javier speaks highly of the staff and faculty at his alma mater and believes, “If you need anything, it is easier to communicate because you know each other very well.” Zaaid Alamahood, a student from Bahrain, feels the same way. Zaaid commented, “Attending a small college helps me learn more about America. I don’t think I would have gotten the support I need to adjust to being a student in the U.S. had I attended a large university.”

Students seeking a study abroad experience will also find many benefits at a small college in a city. German native Mario Kleinsorge, a junior at Fontys University in the Netherlands, opted for a small college setting when planning his study abroad experience. He chose Boston because of the historical points of interest. He also said the fact that Boston is a ‘college town’ with thousands of students attending various colleges and universities was very appealing. Mario enjoys the family feel of a small college while living in a vibrant city. Also, he loves being in a small class. He said, “The small classes are very helpful. There is a lot of discussion, and it helps to improve my English language skills.”

The benefits of attending a small college in an urban setting often have a long lasting effect on students that may even impact one’s career. Dr. Jennifer Weiner, a native of Montreal, earned her undergraduate degree at McGill University, and completed her graduate work in the U.S., earning a Ph.D in Counseling Psychology. The time she spent as a student in the U.S. led to her current position as a professor at a small college in Boston, MA. She believes the attention she received and the connections she made during her U.S. studies augmented her network and exposed her to options that resulted in her current position. Dr. Weiner feels that a small college setting allows her to better assist her students in all matters pertaining to their education. Furthermore, she stated, “If class sizes were large, and if students did not have easy access to me, I truly believe it would have a negative impact on their education and their overall experience.”

Being on an urban college campus offers many opportunities for internships and activities that will benefit the student’s career path. Internships afford students the chance to develop skills and gain experience that will prepare them for their future career. Imagine majoring in hotel management in Boston, one of America’s most popular tourist destinations, and completing your internship at a well known hotel such as the Four Seasons, the Ritz, or the Taj! Students Chi-Wei Sun from Taiwan and Cheng Leong from China appreciate the one-on-one relationship they developed with the Director of their college’s Career Services center. During individual appointments, they were able to prepare their résumés, cover letters, and to practice their interviewing skills in role-playing sessions. They both believe that they would not have received so much individual attention had they chosen to attend a large college.

Cities are the center of culture, art, design, communication, and business. Students can enjoy exhibits at major museums and the talents of street musicians. Cities are full of interesting people from all walks of life and different cultures. Meeting new people is part of the college experience, and making friends is very easy at a small college, because everyone has something in common. You can have the best of both worlds when you enroll at a small college in a bustling city.

Contributed by:

Nancy Pithis, Dean of International Academic Operations and Curriculum Development
Fisher College
www.fisher.edu/international

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