Throughout the college application process, many colleges strive to promote their best features to their potential new students. For some, their favored aspect is their advantageous location, beautiful campus, renowned academics, or class sizes. While Santa Clara University has many of these features, many people tend to overlook the importance and benefits of its small class sizes.
Santa Clara University is considered to be a medium-sized school with a student to faculty ratio of 11:1 and 43.5% of classes having fewer than 20 students. I took four classes this past fall quarter, in which two classes had less than 20 students and the other two classes had less than 40 students. While I enjoyed all four of my fall quarter classes, the two smaller classes were definitely my favorite. Small classes are excellent at fostering a supportive, tight-knit environment, as students are easily able to communicate with not only each other but also with the professor. Students talk to and learn about each other and what they can bring to the classroom, whether its their past experiences, perspectives, beliefs, or work ethic. Professors have the ability to get to know each of their students and provide effective feedback. Ultimately, the class becomes a community.
Intermediate Chinese 1 was my smallest class with only 8 students. This was one of my favorite classes as I learned a lot from both my professor and my classmates. Throughout the quarter, my professor often lead discussions about Chinese culture, and the whole class eagerly contributed as each student shared their own experiences. Our discussions were especially unique as my class had a diverse group of students from Japan, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and the US. These discussions exposed me to a range of stories regarding Chinese culture (from communal shower rooms to awkward misinterpretations of Chinese phrases to bargaining in local markets) that I most likely would’ve never learned about through a traditional, lecture-based class.
My Critical Thinking and Writing class was my next smallest class with 15 students. This class was extremely discussion-based, so my classmates and I constantly contributed and shared our perspectives on the discussion topics. There were many instances in which we partnered up with other students in order to further share our beliefs and ideas before the main class discussion. My professor would sometimes add her own thoughts and opinions to the partner discussions to keep the conversation going and dive even further into our reasonings and thinking behaviors. I always looked forward to these discussion classes as I felt that I was getting to know my classmates better while also expanding my own perspective.
I believe that Santa Clara University’s small classes have the greatest power in building a community that encourages constant face-to-face interactions between students and also the professor.