The biggest decision of your life

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Ben Clanin (’17) made his college decision early this school year.

Ben Clanin, Co-Sports Editor

     When I first started my college search early my junior year my parents gave me one piece of advice, they told me to look at one small school, one medium sized school, and one big school, and as soon as you step onto the right campus, you’ll know.  That advice was key for me moving forward on deciding what school I wanted to go to.

      I first went Augustana College in the small town of Rock Island, Illinois. It is a very small liberal arts school of 2,478 undergraduate students.  Not five minutes into the tour I knew that a school that small wasn’t for me. I knew that some of the things that I wanted in my college experience would never be possible at a school that small, the biggest part of that being big sporting events.  Small schools are good for somebody looking for an experience similar to high school in the classroom aspect.  The class sizes are smaller and you would get more one on one time with all of your professors. Along with that you would see a lot more of your classmates a lot more often. Another nice thing about a small campus is that they are easily walkable. At a school like Augustana none of your classes would be farther than a ten minute walk away from your dorm.  But the sporting events are smaller, and the amount of opportunities that are available at a small school are more limited than that of a big school.

     The next school I went to see was Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  Ball State is a medium sized school with a student population of about 18,000. I liked the campus a lot more than I did at Augustana,  it was a lot a bigger but still very manageable.  They have division one sports, but they are in a small conference where they face teams such as Miami of Ohio, UMass, Kent State, and NIU.  Their student facilities, such as the dining halls and student rec center, were a lot nicer at Ball State as compared to Augie.  A school like Ball State that is around the middle of the road in size gives you a good mix between both a large and a small school. The class sizes are larger, you can expect to have a class size around 40 or 45 kids but that still isn’t that big.  Also, the sporting events definitely draw more people to a school that size. But the sports still aren’t huge, don’t expect to see ESPN covering a football game at a D3, D2, or even a small D1 school.  Medium sized schools are a good fit for somebody looking for an experience that is different from high school, but will still feel familiar and comfortable due to a smaller,  more involved student population.

     Finally I went to the University of Missouri in Columbia, which has a population of about 25,000 students which the 28th largest college in the country.  Even before I had went to the campus I had extremely high hopes, Mizzou is the best college in the country for aspiring journalists and for me that was one of the countless reasons that Mizzou appealed to me.  For me becoming a sports journalist has been a dream for a long time, and going to a place like Mizzou will give me almost endless opportunities to pursue that dream. Not only that after looking at the small and the medium sized schools I knew that I wanted to be at a bigger school for the big time division one sports.  At Mizzou I’m going to get to watch SEC football every Saturday in the fall in a stadium packed with 30,000 screaming fans, where they will take on schools like Alabama (currently ranked number one in the nation), LSU, Auburn, and Florida.  Also the student facilities at a large school are some of the nicest facilities in the country.  Mizzou’s student rec was voted the nicest in the country by ESPN, and it includes an olympic sized swimming pool, a recreational indoor and outdoor pool complete with a lazy river, complete weight rooms with cardio equipment, basketball courts, a boxing gym, and a 40 ft rock wall. Also at a larger school you can take part in competitive intramural sports like softball, beach volleyball, and ultimate frisbee. The combination of the very active student life, the facilities available, and the opportunities presented made it very easy for me to choose where I wanted to go, but there are some definite downsides to going to a school that big.  Class sizes will be very large and it is a process to get one on one time with your professors, also your classes might be a 15 or 20 minute walk away and during the winter months that could be killer.  

     It all depends on your personal preference when it comes to different schools, but you have to know that every school comes with its advantages and disadvantages.