What it’s like going from a small high school to a large college

So. Many. People.

I went to a small private school for six years, so changing schools – let alone moving to college – was a big transition. My high school graduating class was the largest grade in the school with 88 kids and there were only about 450 people in the school (including middle school).

I loved my school and the tight-knit community, but by senior year, I was ready to have a different experience at a larger school. These are a few things I observed and experienced while transitioning from a small high school to a large college.

The Campus is huge

My first thought when I got to Syracuse was that the campus was overwhelmingly big. How was I ever going to know all the buildings and know how to get to all my classes? I was used to my little three-story building, which was no bigger than Eggers Hall. Now, I had to navigate an entire campus filled with large buildings.

Many freshmen had to transition to a new campus, but compared to the size of my school it was like the college was a city. I spent many of my weeks wandering around the campus exploring the nooks and crannies and hidden gems, like People’s Place in Hendricks Chapel. Now after a almost a full year, I can’t imagine the campus being any larger or smaller. It’s perfect!

My High School


Hall of Languages

So. Many. People.

When I initially said I was going to Syracuse, everyone always responded with “Wow, that’s a big school!” It was one of those comments that I brushed off because I couldn’t even imagine a school that big, but when I got here it was definitely apparent. There were tons and tons of unfamiliar people, wherever I went. Just to put it into perspective, there are about as many people on my floor as there were in my high school class. I went from knowing almost everyone in my school to just 88 on my hall and that scared me! What surprised me the most is how quickly the Syracuse community began to feel smaller. As I met more people, joined activities and made friends, the large campus became much more like a family.


My school could barely fill the bleachers for a game, let alone an entire stadium

Closeness with teachers

One of the things I miss the most about my high school is that I knew my teachers so well. They were not just your teachers, but your coaches, advisors and club managers. I knew about their families and lives outside of school, which created a special connection and close bonds. Since the teachers knew each student so well, they cared about the outcome of their education and would make an effort to help each student learn the material.

Now, at college, I often find myself in a large lecture disconnected from the professor and discussion. You are responsible for doing your work, studying, and getting extra help when you need it. This was difficult at first; however, I realized I could still make a connection with professors I would just need to approach it differently.

Me with one of my favorite teachers in high school

Free from gossip

One of the first things I noticed when I came to college was that I was free to be myself without any preconceptions. Being at such a small school, I was forced to be friends with almost everyone, which meant that everyone knew everything about everyone. This made it very easy for news to travel quickly and soon the whole school (including teachers) would find out what college you got into, where you went for vacation or anything happening in your life. One of the things I realized when going to a big school like Syracuse is that you are friends with so many different people that stupid rumors will never travel through the whole school or community. This gives you the freedom to be yourself and take advantage of all the opportunities you have.

My Syracuse friends

My Syracuse friends

Social events

In high school, my school was so small that whenever someone had a party or a social event the whole grade was invited or at times most of the school. In college, there are so many different people that there is a good chance that you will not know anyone at a party. This was exhilarating because you have the opportunity to get to know so many people, but sometimes I miss hanging out with 80 of my closest friends.

My friends from home

My friends from home

All my orange friends

All my orange friends

Although the transition was difficult at first, I knew it was time for me to take a risk and have a completely new experience at a big school. I am loving my Syracuse experience so far and can’t wait to see what else is in store.

Syracuse University