College Decisions - The Advantages of a Small Private College

So, college is the next big milestone on your horizon. You’ve got options: a large state university or a smaller private college like St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Your decision will hinge on various elements, each potentially shaping your overall college experience and future achievements. Here are some critical factors to weigh.

Your Learning Style

Are large lecture halls where you thrive, or do you resonate more with smaller settings that foster close relationships between faculty and students? Think about whether you’re fine with professors leaning on graduate assistants for teaching duties.

Teacher-Student Ratios: Why They Matter

The student-to-faculty ratio is a key factor in your college decision. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public universities average a 14:1 ratio, whereas private colleges offer a more favorable 10:1 ratio, marking a 28% better chance for more impactful student-teacher interactions. St. John’s College takes it a step further with a 7:1 ratio.

The Size Dynamic

Though public schools often have bigger classes to serve a larger student body, smaller private schools tend to offer an environment where classes are more intimate. This enables deeper discussions and greater chances for individualized guidance from instructors.

Students at St. John's in a math class

Choosing a Major

While public universities may offer a broader selection of majors, data shows nearly half of all college students switch their major at least once. And 61% of graduates wish they’d picked differently. In today’s fluid job market, where the average American changes career paths multiple times, a liberal arts education’s breadth can be an asset. In a liberal arts college like St. John’s, you’ll learn to think critically, discuss, debate, and solve problems — all skills that can be applied to many situation.

Beyond the Classroom: Support at a Private College

Educational growth isn’t confined to lecture rooms. At smaller private colleges, you get a more personalized support network. Whether it’s mental health services, student activity sponsors, intramural coaches, or academic guidance, you’re not just another face in the crowd.

St. John's students practicing yoga
Students participating in Soul Yoga on the lawn at St. John’s College.

Community Perks of Private Colleges

Smaller colleges often offer a vibrant campus life, albeit on a reduced scale. This is perfect for those who want a more tight-knit community. St. John’s, for instance, is a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds, offering students an opportunity for deeper, longer-lasting relationships.

Alumni networks at smaller schools are often deeply engaged and invested in helping current students achieve post-graduate success. These relationships can be invaluable professional assets down the line.

The Financial Angle

It’s no secret that private colleges usually have higher tuition fees. However, they often have more financial aid available, thanks to income-generating endowments. The National Association of College and University Business Officers reports that during the 2020-21 academic year, more than half of incoming students at private colleges received tuition discounts. At St. John’s, over 90% of students get college-sponsored financial aid.

If you live here in Ruidoso, you might think a private college like St. John’s is out of reach, but New Mexicans who are accepted can get a $13,000 grant. That perk could really help you make a decision.

The Value of a Good Reputation

Though public universities often have broader name recognition, private colleges frequently enjoy a high prestige level. For example, St. John’s College, founded in 1696, is among the oldest U.S. colleges. Such a reputation can give you an edge in your post-graduation endeavors.

So, before hitting that ‘apply’ button, make a point of visiting each campus to ensure they align with your aspirations and values. Picking a college that aligns with your goals is a key ingredient for future success.

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