Smaller universities are more advantageous

Kastenny Flores, Reporter

In my experience and opinion, smaller institutions, compared to larger ones, can benefit students interested in a more personalized education and tight-knit community. Initially, I attended California State University, Northridge, where I commuted to campus most of the time I attended, aside from one semester online. 

I live approximately 40 minutes from this university and doing this drive Monday to Friday became too much for me. Although being able to drive and own a car is a privilege, I felt like I needed to do something to make my life a little bit simpler, especially since I had the opportunity to. 

Transferring to California Lutheran University allowed me to reduce my commute in half and be in an area I am familiar with. Not only was this an advantage, but Cal Lutheran also provided me with several academic advantages I had never even considered. 

Cal State Northridge is an excellent university, but being in a private university like Cal Lutheran has opened many opportunities for me to gain future career experience.

At Cal State Northridge, one example is that all the courses offered, such as the podcasting class and the student newspaper, were only offered to upper-division students. Since I am in my sophomore year, these opportunities were impossible at my previous university. 

Hailey Ponchione, a former Cal Lutheran student, explained her experience and why she transferred to Pepperdine.

“I felt like I needed more of an education. The Cal Lu program for film and television is rather new. You spend all this time in college, you should learn enough to go out into the world afterward,” Ponchione said.

Ponchione majored in film and television at Cal Lutheran. However, contrary to my experience, she felt that her department lacked the proper funding to help her excel in the future. 

“Pepperdine has two or three times more film classes than Cal Lu does right now. So I do know Cal Lu is working on that, but it’s unfortunate for the kids that started in that major and in 2020,” Ponchione said. 

Every academic experience is different for all students; it all depends on what school you are attending and the major you have. According to the College Board’s website, finding the college that best suits your major and learning style will lead to a stronger academic path. 

Danielle Pickard, a third-year transfer student from San Jose State University and Fullerton City College, said, “I do not do well in a large school setting. My mom was worried about when I originally got in and planned to go there. The school is huge.”

There is a sense of competition in larger institutions to try to make your way and set a path to gain success in the future. Larger campuses allow for a wide range of opportunities to try to find a group you fit into; however, too many options can sometimes feel overwhelming. 

“There are not a lot of small communities that are easier to find. It was kind of hard to make friends. I am a performing arts person… the communities surrounding performing arts were not as engaging and intact as they made them seem. I had a really hard time making friends,” Pickard said. 

Finding a sense of belonging and community is something that a lot of college students can struggle with. In college, you encounter individuals with different backgrounds, ethnicities and interests. This makes the college experience so special compared to grade school, where you are likely familiar with the people around you. 

“I did enjoy my time at Cal Lu, the residence halls were nice, and I was involved in the cheer team and as a tour guide. I had a good time, I had a good group of friends with whom I still keep in contact. But, it was solely the education, and I just needed the confidence to do so,” Ponchione said. 

As with every institution, there will always be pros and cons, and there will be no perfect experience, just a unique opportunity. Therefore, the benefits of attending a small institution should be highly considered when making your college decision. I am incredibly grateful to be at Cal Lutheran where I am taking advantage of all the amazing resources this institution offers.