By Dr. Laura Palmer Noone, CEO, University of the Potomac

As my children enter their second year of high school, we have started more serious discussions about going to college.  At present, they think they may want to go to a big state school nearby.  While the idea of in-state tuition is appealing, I am not certain I am in favor of this choice.  The reason for my angst is simple – size matters.  I worry about any 18 year old navigating a massive campus with tens of thousands of students.  Introductory classes in general education areas are likely to be held in large lecture halls, with over 200 students in the class. (If you sit in the back row, you might get a new perspective on the meaning of ‘distance education.’)

Whether I will win that debate with my children is uncertain.  However, I do remember the decision I made when I was choosing a college was to go to a much smaller institution.  That is a decision I have never regretted.  I had the opportunity to have access to my faculty members, as well as the ability to participate in a wide range of extra curricular activities.  It allowed me to finish ‘growing up’ in a far less threatening environment.

That isn’t to say that small institutions are only for the traditional student.  I find myself thinking that if I were to go back to school at this point in my life, I would still want an environment where I was known by my name and I could actually speak to a regular faculty member instead of a teaching assistant who might be young enough to be my son or daughter.  I would also need a college that was flexible enough to work around my work and family schedule.  I know for sure that wouldn’t be “Big State U.”

I am lucky to be the Chief Executive Officer of one of those special small institutions.  Potomac is an intimate academic experience.  Classes are small by design because we believe that more individual attention for the student is a good thing.  If you want to be a tiny fish in a huge pond – Potomac isn’t for you.  If you want to be a number instead of a name, Potomac isn’t for you.  But if you like the idea of being able to ask a question during class and actually get an answer from a professor and if you like the idea of real professors instead of teaching assistants, then we might be the right place.  Because, as I said above, size does matter.