My first two years of college, I called my community college home. I took classes at the 100- and 200-level in classrooms with only 30 other students at maximum capacity, where we all got to know one another, and the professors, on personal levels. We would attend events together as classes, rent study rooms where we could all fit together to get work done and talk about things going on in our personal lives.
I was lucky to have this experience for my first two years of college because I had no idea what to expect– but I was delighted.
After earning my associate degree, I transferred to the University of Kentucky and took my first 101 class geared toward my major at the time – which I say because we all change our major, right? Anyway.
I walked onto campus my first day at a university and headed for the bottom floor of Whitehall. As a first-generation college student, who had no frame of reference for how large classrooms could be, I did not know what to expect except something like my experience in community college classrooms.
Boy, was I wrong. I stepped into the classroom, absurdly early to scan the room for a seat because I did not think there would be many left and saw a room that could fill 300 people easily. I thought to myself, classrooms this large exist? They are not just in the movies?
I finished my first 101 class at a university with an A, but I never knew anything about my professor other than their last name or something funny they decided to share on the first day of class. I met around 10 or so other students whom I studied with from time to time, but it did not feel the same as it did when I was in a smaller classroom setting.
That is when I realized classroom sizes truly matter. Yes, I still earned a great grade, but students who start their college experience this way, and not in the small classroom sizes as I had at community college, are missing out.
I made friends in those tight-knit classes that I still talk to today. My 101 class at a university? I do not think I can even remember the names of the few people I studied with.
If you have taken a lecture-hall 101 class in the bottom floor of Whitehall, or a small-setting 401 class on the third floor of Whitehall, there is a difference in the feeling of the room. Smaller classrooms allow more discussions, one-on-one interactions and the ability to know your professor better.
Classroom sizes really matter.