Old Main by Samuel Schuman

"Working at a small college is not a job; it is a lifestyle, even a passion."

My undergraduate and graduate work was done at a small university and I currently work for a small university. I found this book to make a very convincing argument for the role of small colleges and universities in America.

Two major issues I have found working at small colleges are the role of diversity and issue of high cost, so, going into the book I was wondering how the author was going to tackle these two issues. How could he paint small colleges in a flattering light without showing that small colleges succeeding in promoting diversity and keeping costs down?

I really appreciated the author’s take on diversity. At a large, state-institution it is easy for students to find their own small community - a community that usually looks and acts just like them. So instead of finding new experiences, a student at a large university will stick to what he/she knows, and since most large universities and their surrounding communities offer a large variety of opportunities, it is very easy not to diversify. At a small college, however, students are "forced" to experience new situations. They do not have the opportunity to escape the uncomfortable. A student will need to learn about other cultures and perspectives. It is hard to avoid people at a small college.

Cost is not something the author spends a lot of time on, since many of the small colleges he surveys are public, state-funded institutions or very well-endowed private schools.

Small schools are another - and essential - option to the landscape of higher education in America. They are different but not superior or inferior. The author unashamedly admits his admiration for small colleges. I think this book is very useful for anyone who is thinking about working at a small college or someone who wants to further the cause of their own small college. I'm not sure this book would render much help to any prospective students or their parents.