If you grew up in a small village like many of us, the idea of going to a university can be an intimidating one. You are sure that all the other students will be much more experienced and sophisticated, hailing from places like London or Birmingham. You anticipate solitary meals, being overwhelmed with questions in large lecture halls, or having a terrifyingly rude roommate. Perhaps you are concerned about all of these things. While that is probably a worst-case scenario even at the biggest schools, smaller places do not have that overwhelming fear. Of course, it is impossible to get along with everyone, even at a smaller school. But when you know you have to see someone day in and day out, in the halls of both your home and your classrooms, you tend to find a way to live with them. And when you attend a university made of up smaller colleges, you will be grouped with people who are in similar fields of study. You are more likely to have things in common. It gives you a place to start as well as something to bond over. Regent’s, for example, is humanities based, so we were all very arts-focused. This meant that in all our years there, we avoided having to strike up conversations with brooding and socially awkward mathematicians over beef and ale pie at dinner.
Smaller schools tend to have more opportunities for the students to mix. They cannot necessarily compete with bigger schools on certain things like laboratory equipment or sports teams, so they have to make up for it in other ways. One of those ways typically involves student life. A place like Regent’s actually provides many opportunities for the students to mix. Mealtimes are a good example. While there are many places to eat around Oxford—and students have the ability to cook for themselves because they have access to kitchens—most students at Regent’s wound up eating at College Hall. It was a good way to meet and spend time outside of classes with fellow students.
At Regent’s, we also have a student-run bar as well as an excellent common room (JCR) that hosts comfortable places to sit and chat, has table tennis and table football for friendly games, snacks, a tv, and a fantastic sound system. While not all schools have quite this many amenities, small schools often have recreational facilities or common areas available for students to socialize and should be taken full advantage of!
Sports are another great way to get involved in school and with your classmates. Whether it be a casual club or a super competitive team, university sports can be a memorable time in life. Teammates at a smaller school likely already know each other. It provides people with a non-academic means to work together, forming bonds that will last long after your time at university comes to a close.
University is a time to learn both academically and socially. It is the perfect chance to mix and mingle with people from other places and cultures. Small schools are perfect for this purpose!