How Important is the Student-Faculty Ratio in College?


Many college students wonder “How important is the student-faculty ratio in college?” when picking where to go to school. This figure refers to the number of faculty members working for the school in comparison to the number of students enrolled. It also gives you an idea of the number of others you will see in your classes. The student to faculty ratio is important for a few different reasons, but mainly because it provides you with information about how personalized the instruction might be.

Forming Connections

One reason the faculty student ratio is so important is because this figure tells you how easily you can form connections with others. When you attend a college with a large ratio of students to professors, you will feel like a small fish in a big pond. You may attend classes with hundreds of other students, which makes it harder for your teachers to remember you. If the college has a lower ratio, you’ll have fewer students in your classes, which makes it easier for your professors to remember you. The connections you form come in handy when you need a reference letter for graduate school or a job.

Less Competition

Students wondering about the student-faculty ratio in college often don’t think about the opportunities available to them in a smaller school. Larger schools often have larger classes with a lot of competition. This can affect your grade and keep professors from grading on a curve, but it can also affect you when it comes to getting help too. You may need to make an appointment to see a professor during office hours and find that you need to wait weeks for a time to become available. Professors working in schools with a smaller ratio often have office hours that can accommodate all students.

Personalized Instruction

Personalized instruction is the main reason to attend a school with a lower ratio of students to professors. If you sit in a lecture hall with 100 other students or more, the chances of getting personalized help is very low. Larger schools often have teaching assistants who handle classes, which means that you’ll rarely see your teacher. A TA is responsible for grading papers, passing out assignments and explaining instructions, but those assistants generally do not have the same scope of knowledge as a professor does. Teaching assistants cannot provide you with the individual or personalized instruction that you need either.

More Participation

According to U.S. News & World Report, one benefit of attending a smaller school with a better student to teacher ratio is that you can participate more in your classes. When you have dozens or hundreds of other students in the same class with you, you’ll have a hard time standing out. The professor may call on other students before even noticing you. With a smaller class size, you can make your thoughts and opinions know and stand out as one of the top students in your class.

Larger schools can have a ratio of 50 or more students for each professor, but smaller schools may have as few as 10 students for each professor. Those who are asking “How important is the student-faculty ratio in college?” will find that it’s important because it determines how much they can participate and whether they can form connections with their professors.

Additional resource: 50 Best Colleges for Adult Education 2017-2018