Don’t Freak! Moving From A Small College To A Large University

When changing schools (whether you’re studying abroad or simply transferring to a different school) starting classes at a large university may bring a few surprises to those of us used who come from small colleges. Ease the transition by considering these three factors everyone experiences when moving from a small college to a large university.

You will rarely see familiar faces around campus

Does your old friend from high school also attend this university? Or maybe your roommate is studying Political Science, while you’re studying Biology? Don’t expect to run into them much (if ever) on campus. At small colleges, by the end of the semester, we will recognize nearly every single face we pass on the street and will know exactly what time and day of the week we will see a specific person again. This can be extremely handy to those of us who may be a bit more shy and need a little extra help making friends, because if you see the same people all the time, it’s much less daunting to say hello. However, at large universities, if you want to make friends, you’ve gotta do it the old fashioned way—by actually exchanging contact information. (Scary, I know!)

from small college to large university - who are you

You will likely be walking A LOT

In small colleges (especially ones that may consist of a single academic building or those on very compact campuses) it probably takes a maximum of 15 minutes to make from one class to the next. (And even that is pushing it. You must be walking pretty slowly for it to take a FULL 15 minutes.) On a larger campus, expect 30+-minute walks—and maybe even the addition of public transportation, like trains or buses—to be added into your cross-campus commute. Gone are the days of waking up 10 minutes prior to the beginning of your lecture and still making it there on time. Maybe invest in a bike?


The amount of on-campus clubs and societies can be overwhelming, but you’ll always find something you enjoy

At your small college it was easy to find a club because the list was pretty short. But maybe you always wanted to be part of the awesome Harry Potter Club that your friend is in at her state school… something your little college couldn’t support. Once you’ve enrolled at a large university, fear no more! You can join a rock-climbing club, an honors society, and even play as much Quidditch as your heart desires. Odds are that if you like something, one of the thousands of other people at your university also like the same thing and thought, “hmm, why not start a club for that?”

small college to large university - clubs

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Carley Gancher

Carley is an undergrad student at Hanover College majoring in Studio Art and is currently studying abroad at Ulster University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, and growing up in rural Southern Indiana, she developed a love for exploration and appreciation for nature. She survives on coffee and peanut butter, and documents her life through sketches and the occasional photograph. She doesn't know what career she'd like to pursue, but hopes it can combine her passion for art with her love of travel.

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