If all that mattered was how large a university is, then any top 100 list would read much differently than it does now. Simply stated, the university must fit the student, not the other way around, and so when smaller fits better, smaller IS better. Conversely, if a student needs to be in a busy milieu with thousands of other students and/or needs large research facilities or large libraries on campus, then it is likely that larger is better.
Students interested in attending university in the San Diego have a number of choices, including the University of San Diego (5000 undergrads) and The University of California at San Diego (25,000 undergrads). Recently, Mr. Humphries visited both universities and noticed the following: At USD (first photo below), students moving from one class to another along the quiet walkways knew each other. The physical beauty of the university is remarkable. USD is very proud of its new Peace and Justice Studies program. All students in all programs must study Philosophy, Religion, and the Arts. The university admissions office spent an inordinate amount of time answering questions and making sure Mr. Humphries’s stay was enjoyable. At UC-SD (lower photo), the distance between buildings (and therefore between classes) can be several hundred meters. Between classes, the pathways carry thousands of students, but it’s not crowded because the paths are so large. The students services building is enormous – 4 full floors. The Engineering complex is remarkable for its facilities and its design (see photo below). The Price Centre (bookstore, restaurants, etc.) is as big as some shopping malls. The Theodore Geisel Library is an architectural marvel. Everything is big – even the teddy bears.
So which one would you want to attend if you were going to the San Diego area for university? USD is small and friendly, its ethos includes the concept of service, and its superb facilities are set on a hill overlooking San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. UC-SD is large and busy, and it is home to top research facilities and comprehensive program offerings. Find the shoe that fits and wear it.