5 Benefits of Attending a Small CollegeWritten by Seth Howell
My journey as a Sattler student began in the fall of 2018 as the twenty-one other students of the inaugural class and I traveled on a bus to Toah Nipi, New Hampshire. During our two-day retreat, I canoed with faculty, shared meals with future professors, and participated in fun activities with my future classmates. From the start, Sattler’s leaders encouraged us students to build strong relationships. One professor, a former army officer, shared a stirring illustration. He explained how small groups of men form an army unit and pass through rigorous training and hardship together. Years later, at any moment, in any place, these soldiers will make great sacrifices to help the comrades they endured trials with. Similarly, he said, we students would grow together in a community of academic rigor and develop a lifelong bond.
Two years later, the friendships I formed with my classmates during that retreat have only deepened. I feel privileged to be on campus each day with students that I don’t merely recognize; we know each other’s names and stories, allowing us to connect in meaningful ways.
When I initially applied to Sattler, I worried about its small size. My high school was large and diverse, providing great opportunities to branch out and gain unique experiences. I was thus in for a big adjustment enrolling at Sattler, whose student body of almost 80 students is about 1% as large as the average college. Attending a small college, however, comes with its own set of advantages. I asked about thirty of my classmates what it means to be a Sattler student and these are the things they thought of:
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5 Advantages of a Small College
I want to highlight five specific benefits of Sattler’s small size: strong community, access to the professors, institutional flexibility, effective discipleship, and opportunities for leadership.
1. Strong Community
Anyone who visits Sattler will quickly see that it is a tight knit community. Each class of students begins their first year by going on a retreat together, forming the foundation for strong friendships. They then take the majority of their first year’s core classes together before separating into their respective majors and electives. In the dorms and on Sattler’s small campus, common spaces provide an excellent environment for students in different grades and majors to integrate and develop friendships or bounce ideas off each other. Students often bond at meal times, in student clubs, and at tea time. The student government also promotes healthy community through planning extracurricular activities like documentary nights, athletic events, worship nights, and semesterly celebrations. David Anderson, a junior who spent time at a university of several thousand students, shared how every college promotes an idea of “family” without much success. But Sattler, he says, truly makes him feel he’s part of a family. It is a place where you can be known and know others in an authentic way.
2. Access to Professors
Sattler’s small classes allow for a low student-to-teacher ratio. This is a tremendous advantage for students. We are able to develop genuine relationships with our professors as well as get sufficient attention and guidance in our academic work. Sattler’s professors demonstrate an extraordinary level of care and intentionality for their students. Some notable examples include professors hosting students for meals (even Thanksgiving), going above and beyond to help struggling students with assignments, checking in with students about life in general, and sharing personal resources (such as books). I’ve stopped by my professors’ offices countless times to discuss assignments, or even to pray or just talk about life together. One way I’ve benefited from the low student-to-teacher ratio is my improved writing skills. My professors have been able to give thorough feedback on my writing assignments in a way that has allowed me to grow far more than I did in my large high school. If you come to Sattler, take advantage of your access to professors. They will spur you on in your academic pursuits.
3. Institutional Flexibility
As a small university, Sattler has a unique amount of flexibility. A great example of this flexibility is the fact that the student body was able to attend classes in person while COVID-19 social distancing measures were in place. We have been able to social distance during class, have developed a robust procedure for quarantining exposed individuals, and have launched a successful system of online classes in a very short time. Another example of Sattler’s flexibility is its ability to accommodate students. This includes working with students to meet their financial needs, providing online classes through Harvard’s Extension School to supplement certain majors, and working with students in unique situations.
4. Effective Discipleship
Sattler promises its students discipleship, and central to the idea of biblical discipleship is consistency—spending time with the same small group of people for an extended period of time. Jesus exemplifies effective training. He only spent short periods with crowds, a longer period training the 72 (Luke 10), and then all of his time with the 12 disciples. He was even more intentional with his inner circle of Peter, James, and John. At Sattler, in the process of doing life together with other students, our authentic selves emerge (the good, bad, and ugly), resulting in both accountability and growth. Over a long period of being in the same environment, we learn to better love, serve, and understand each other. Also, in parallel to Jesus’s inner circle, we are each a part of a small journey group. In our groups, we intentionally spur each other towards spiritual growth during our time at Sattler.
5. Opportunities for Leadership
Sattler is both a small college and a new college. This means you will find a multitude of ways to serve through leadership. If you have an idea of how to make Sattler a better place, then you are able to try and see your dream fulfilled. This might include starting a club or tradition (such as game night), creating opportunities for other students through networking and research, or anything else you could think of. For example, my friend Josh and I saw a need for resume building within the computer science department and desired to serve the larger Boston community, so we launched a computer science association that will hopefully start serving nonprofits in the future.
Sattler's small size makes it the perfect place to grow as a scholar and follower of Christ. Between the rich relationships you'll form here and unique opportunities available to you, coming to a small school like Sattler could really make all the difference in your college experience.
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Seth is a computer science major from Pennsylvania. He enjoys music, studying theology, and skateboarding. After spending a few months working with street children in Kenya, he became passionate about international ministry and teaching English, something he continues as an ESL tutor in Boston. He hopes to become a software developer after graduation and to use his computer skills to help non-profits.