A Better Fit

When applying to colleges, it is important to look at both big and small schools.


photo by Halle Marsalis

The quaint and beautiful Chatham University lies on the east side of Pittsburgh.

Halle Marsalis, Staff Writer

After high school, the norm for most North Allegheny students is to move on to a college that is significantly larger than NA, the two most common of which are Pitt or Penn State. But schools that are big may not be ideal for all students. 

At the larger universities, underclassmen will likely sit in lecture halls with over 100 other students, meaning the professors have a low chance of getting to know their students on a personal level. Of course, football games, social life, or even just walking around a big campus might be what some kids look forward to, but is it really worth it?

Instead, I would rather go somewhere where my professors know my name and where I can walk into the classroom for help if necessary. If I wanted a letter of recommendation for a future job or for graduate school, the letter will be more personalized. 

At NA, many smaller colleges get overlooked in favor of the big sports schools or the Ivy Leagues. However, sometimes smaller colleges have more to offer. 

I have always strived to play D1 soccer. For me, that was it. I would envision myself telling my classmates that I am going to play soccer at a Division 1 school. But it hit me this year that nobody cares where anyone but their friends go to college. We’re all caught up in our own stories, and most of my classmates will probably not remember where I decide to go at high school. The hype of saying “D1” would be short-lived.

As I approached the college search, I received emails from coaches from smaller colleges that I would try to delete before my mom saw them. We would get into arguments because she would urge me to do some research or tour the school. However, I was insistent that I wanted a Division 1 school. In the end, I listened to her, and by touring many different campuses, I learned that a smaller college is what I need. 

As I toured campuses of all different sizes, I found myself loving the ones that were about the same size or a little bigger than NASH. I started to look into smaller schools for soccer and loved most of them.

I finally had the realization that balancing a social life with sports would be more beneficial for me at a smaller college, allowing me to do all the things I have always wanted to, like studying abroad, playing soccer, and joining extracurricular clubs and activities, all while getting a great education. 

Ultimately, I found what is best for me. I realized that I want a relationship with my professors. I want to know the students in my class. As I want to continue my athletic career in college, I have decided that it is better for me to learn in a classroom where I can ask questions and get personal help when needed. 

There is a lot of pressure at North Allegheny to take all AP or Honors classes and join as many extracurricular activities as possible, all while striving to get into the biggest or best college. We all want to go to the school with the biggest hype. 

But for me, the title of the school truly does not matter. What really matters is what I take out of my education. I want to learn in an environment where I am able to achieve and grow. And for me, that means a smaller college.