The Benefits of Attending a Big University


Before I even started applying to college, one of the big dilemmas (OK, fights) I had with my parents (uh hum, mom) was about attending a small liberal arts college versus a large university. My mom’s side of the argument was that a small college would give me more personal attention, potentially more scholarships, and a smaller classroom environment. Her points were legitimate, despite me pretending at the time that they had no merit whatsoever.

Still, with senioritis setting in during my junior year of high school, I wanted to have as many opportunities as possible in college. The only way I could do this was to go to a large university, and I am so glad I chose Illinois. Here are just a few of the advantages Illinois has over smaller colleges around Illinois (love you Mom!):


A diverse student body

Coming from a northwest suburban high school, everybody basically had the same type of friends, because that’s all there was. Now I have friends of every race, ethnicity, sexuality, and religion. At Illinois, I have gotten the chance to work with people whose culture and values are different from mine. The little misconceptions we all bring with us from our teenage years fade away – I can’t think of a better thing to graduate with.

Hundreds of classes, dozens of majors

I seriously could  go to school here my whole life and not take the same class twice! This is super important to tailoring your education to what you want it to be. Sure, I am biology major, but I have so many great options for my general education requirements. I get to take classes such as SOC 160: Global Health and LAW 199: Healthcare Reform. I not only meet my graduation requirements, but these classes also help me become an even better physician.

Endless involvement opportunities

Having more than 1,000 student organizations on campus makes it easy to find people who share the same interests. With a total of 40,000 students, there are bound to be a few you have something in common with! When you see a sign in a building for a group meeting you are interested in, do not be afraid to go to the meeting by yourself. You will not be the only one going alone, and the butterflies will be worth the friends you will make!

You can’t deny it… the sports are better

While I am not a huge sports fan, there is no denying that D1 games are a lot more fun to watch. End of story. 

Learning to make your own way

There are dozens of offices around campus with people trained to help you make the most of your college experience. The Career Center, your advisers, your professors, and teaching assistants are there for you, but they are not going to seek you out. At a big school, you need to be your own advocate. In my opinion, this is great training for your career and other aspects of your life – no one is going to hunt you down to help you buy car insurance or take your trash out to the curb!

A huge alumni network

There is an unspoken bond between people who attend the same undergraduate school, and you should definitely take advantage of it. The registered student organization Student Alumni Ambassadors has a program called Illini Externship in which they connect you with an Illinois alumni in your field of interest to shadow. Also, you don’t need a formal program to make connections; just ask your professors or TAs how they got shadowing or internship experiences!


Please note that comments close after 90 days.

Mr. Hu Xu

April 12, 2010, 3:55 am

An interesting topic and content for this blog, I read it by chance.


Alison Charbonneau

April 13, 2010, 1:40 pm

Thank you. You address the exact question my son (who is also from the NW) is grappling with. He has received scholarship money from Univ. of Ill. and from small private colleges and is having a hard time deciding which one will offer him the most opportunities in the long run. Your perspective has been very helpful.



April 13, 2010, 3:14 pm

I am so glad I could help!