TeleBEARS start Monday: large vs. small classes

Katherine Chen/Staff

Although the fall semester seems like light years away, for those of us who won’t be graduating in the spring it’s already time for that nerve-racking task of signing up for classes. Between trying to get into the classes you have to take, finding time for the classes you want to take and avoiding that one class you wouldn’t want to take even if they paid you to, considering issues such as class size isn’t necessarily a top priority. However, being in a small or large class can make a big difference in terms of what experience you’ll have. The Clog’s compared the pros and cons to show you what you might expect!

Relationship with professor

We’d say being in a smaller class definitely wins out in this category. Regardless of how extraordinarily smart you are and the incredible depth of your insights, it’s going to be pretty hard for a professor to pick up on this in a class of 300 students (who probably all feel the same way about themselves). Sure, there are always office hours, but those tend to be pretty awkward no matter how much of a social butterfly you are. In a smaller class, there’s actually a chance that maybe — just maybe —  the professor might learn your name, or at least some version of it. Smaller classes also usually let you get more in depth with the subject, as opposed to larger lectures, which tend to be more general and make you cram the entire scope of the American political system into one semester.

Classroom vibe  

This is, we feel, is the true benefit of being in a large class. Coming in unprepared or late (or not at all) is pretty hard to pull off without being noticeable in a seminar of ten people. If you’re in a large class and don’t feel like forcing yourself out of bed to go to your 8 a.m. Friday discussion section, you can usually get away with jumping in on another section at a more human time. Plus, being in a small class where the professor is hovering two feet away from you makes it a little more difficult to take casual naps or check Instagram. Didn’t finish that last chapter of Nietzsche last night? Well, in a large class you don’t have to feel too bad about it — the odds that you won’t get called on are on your side.

Learning potential

This one is a little more tricky. On one hand, in a smaller class you might actually get the chance to hear what other students have to say, and it’s definitely not as intimidating to raise questions in front of 30 people as opposed to 300 people. On the other hand, being in a large class could motivate you to do more work on your own and stay on top of your game. In the end, as cliche as it may sound, it’s all really about figuring out what’s going to work best for you. And, as the story goes, the only way to do that is to try it out!

Contact Corinne Platten at [email protected]