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Private Institutions- Part II

October 12, 2011

Part II of my series on Private Educational Institutions.Now, on to the disadvantages I mentioned earlier (keep in mind some pros can also be cons, depending on the circumstances):

This is one of the traits that can be both beneficial and harmful. Everyone knows everyone and that can mean stress in some cases. Every social group experiences different levels of gossip and storytelling for entertainment purposes. Most times it is not for the sake of harm or to intentionally be nasty to others; but for the sake of boredom people will generally share information that may not be theirs to share or may be inappropriate to share depending on the audience. When you know everyone at your school and you don’t get along with a few of them, it is difficult to stay out of each others’ ways and keep the peace. It is also difficult to avoid those whom you particularly do not agree with or have bad vibes about on a regular basis. When all of the students in your institution are “within arms reach” it is hard to avoid people you would rather not interact with at times.

The smaller population makes it challenging to find people who share your interests and identify with you if you have less popular interests, or very specific traits. If you are in sports teams, it is generally easy to find friends because you have something in common with your entire team. If you are interested in World War II and its effects on the modern world, you may have a more difficult time finding people to discuss that with than simply attending the History club on your campus. Another downside to smaller populations in private schools is the difficulty of spending time with friends because most of the events in private schools overlap. For example, sports games can occur at the same time as the networking event or club meeting you were planning to attend. This dilemma makes it difficult to spend time with all your friends because all of their special events and interest groups meet at the same times.

Recognition. All the teachers know your name, another one both pro and con of private schools. If you are one of those social loafers or slackers, the teachers are aware of you. They become familiar with your work, and can become frustrated because they realize something is missing to fully engage you in the coursework. Since the classes are so small, it is easy to pick you out of the crowd and identify you (not publicly) as the slacker or troublemaker. Admission is another flaw in the system of smaller institutes. In a place where there is a population cap at 3,000 students and only 200 new students are accepted every year, it can be quite competitive to enroll and be accepted. While it can feel like a great achievement to be one of the few accepted, it can also be a terrible let-down if you are rejected as one out of the 300 who applied.

Program Strength. Some programs struggle, sputter, and fail in private institutions for a few reasons. Long-standing programs and clubs are semi-traditional in nature; new programs that someone wants to begin for their interest or for the leadership experience can pose serious challenges to the students who attempt to build them from the ground, up. These new programs are difficult to keep in motion after the students who began the operation graduate because it is a form of change and on smaller campuses, change is viewed as a strange force that can be overcome by sheer numbers. If too many students on campus are disinterested or against the group’s formation, it will die a quick death because only the students interested are invested in forming the group. It also goes back to having students who share interests with you. If there is a large group of students who have common interests, chances are good that there is already a club in existence for them. Those who have diverse and obscure interests may have difficulty building a new club community because there are not enough of them to instigate the necessary change on campus.

Another program which struggles in smaller schools is the tutorship program. Common and popular topics are easy to find tutors for because most students have taken them. Courses which are less popular may cause difficulties finding tutors because not many students are inherently interested in taking them, or perhaps do not need to take them for graduation requirements. Those classes, such as Medieval French Literature or Biology in the Early 19th Century, may be problematic in finding someone willing AND capable of educating you further than the class professor has done.

Costs. There are many costs of attending a private institution, not all of them financially based. Smaller institutions suffer systematically because they are designed to be an independent community in and of themselves. This means that when one system fails, be it electricity, wireless, husbandry maintenance, or dining services, the entire entity collapses. In larger campuses, there are alternative generators, circuit boards, or other locations to eat, so that if one system fails, the entire campus can continue to operate effectively.

Other costs associated with private institutions are, of course, the financial ones. This is similar in concept to any expensive or high-end brand name:  you are paying for the name. You are paying for the recognition and the ability to brag about which school you went to solely based on the institution’s reputation in the rest of society. No one likes paying the money, but it’s literally the “price you pay” for a good education at a good private school.

As mentioned in Part I, our higher employment rates relative to larger schools due to our lower population, we also have a lower retention rate due to our lower population. If ten students leave a class of 3,000 students, there is not so much surprise or hassle. If ten students leave a class of only 100 students, that is quite a serious difference. I don’t know our particular retention rates, but I do know that the lower population numbers of smaller schools most definitely result in lower retention rates because of the relative comparison to larger schools.


This concludes the two-part series of Private Institutions. I feel much better, now. I will continue to post based on useful and valuable books that I am reading. This was just a thought which occurred to me, and you know how those pesky thoughts can be; they have to be addressed or they just will not go away!


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