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Fit matters: College sizes

One size fits all, badly (Image courtesy of <a href="https://flic.kr/p/D6VQGh">Espen Klem on Flickr</a>. Used under <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode">the Creative Commons License</a>.)
One size fits all, badly (Image courtesy of Espen Klem on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.)

Finding your fit is easier said than done, isn’t it? One of the factors that influences the “fit” is size of college. While you should think of fit and size of college, let’s take a few minutes to figure out what kind of colleges show up for the different sizes of college.

We like to bracket the size of college in the following categories:

Super Large:
20,000+ undergraduate students
10,000-20,000 undergraduate students
3,000-10,000 undergraduate students
1,000-3,000 undergraduate students
Very Small:
Under 1,000 undergraduate students

After scanning through all four-year colleges we have found that colleges group rather neatly by size and type.

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How does this impact your college list as you search to find a fit?

  1. If you are looking at mostly large universities then your list will probably be dominated with public universities.
  2. If you are looking at mostly small universities then your list will probably be dominated by private colleges:

If this works well for your personality fit, then this is the way to search.

However, problems arise if a student/family is looking for small public university. Those are far and few in between. Or the reverse situation where a student/family is looking for large private universities. In general, many of the large private universities are also the selective universities. Our suggestion would be to expand the boundaries a little bit by including medium sized universities. There are many more medium sized universities than there are large universities or small universities.


By including medium sized universities in your search, it gives you a little space to look at different options and perhaps uncover some universities that are new to you.

Keep this post handy as you think about fit and size of college and then finally as you search for colleges.