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Making the Right Choice

Q&A – Making the right choice

By Gremlyn Bradley-Waddell

Jo Wilson

Jo Wilson

The quest to find the college that “fits” you can be daunting. With the options available today, like traditional classroom instruction, online learning and a multitude of degree programs, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Asking questions and understanding what works for you or your student, however, are simple but effective ways to find a school tailored to your needs.

Jo Wilson, senior administrator and special assistant to the executive vice president for Benedictine University at Mesa, offers answers to some common questions students and parents might have about the city’s newest higher-education offerings.

Q: Why choose a private, liberal arts college over a larger university?

Jo Wilson: For many students, a larger institution is very daunting with large classes and thousands of students. Frequently, lower-level classes are taught by teaching assistants and there is little opportunity to interact with a tenured professor in the first few semesters. A private, liberal arts college has a smaller, more personal environment where faculty focus on teaching and class sizes are usually very small. Also, a private liberal arts college often has a set of values that emphasize the development of the whole person, and that process is typically more achievable in a small school environment.

Q: So, what’s the advantage to a larger college or university?

JW: There are many characteristics of a large institution that attract students. Larger research institutions often bring professors, such as Nobel Prize winners, that you may not experience at a smaller institution. Also, at a large state institution, tuition is usually less than at a private liberal arts college. Students also choose larger institutions because of degree programs, scholarships or extracurricular activities available to them.

Q: How do I know if a college is the right “fit” for me?

JW: There are so many factors that make a college a “right fit” for a student.  For the student, those could include such things as the availability of a particular program, the campus culture, the location of school, the cost, etc.  A student usually feels that a college is a good fit when there’s a “connection.” That connection may come from the recruiter, a college advisor or even a friend. Each student may find that connection in a different way.