Drake’s tiny campus provides closeness

March 11, 2013 6:00 AMComments Off

Column by Kathryn Kriss

Kriss is a sophomore BCMB major and can be reached at kathryn.kriss@drake.edu

Kathyrin Kriss-w2000-h2000This past week, I had lunch with a girl visiting from out of town. Of course, we took her for the obligatory meal at Hubbell. We greeted the lady at the door who greeted us back by name, set our stuff down at a table and wandered over to the buffet lines. She looked at me as we readily abandoned our backpacks and commented on how that would never happen at her school.

What big schools have in school spirit, enormous lecture halls and televised sports games, they lack in intimacy and friendliness. Casual acquaintances can’t greet each other as they pass on the commons every Monday and Wednesday before class, because at a massive state school, you can meet somebody and never see them again.

Most of the time at Drake University, if you’re in a class with somebody, you know her name by the time the midterm rolls around. Intro-level classes in biology or business understandably take place in a larger lecture format. But large lecture-style classes are usually restricted to one or two courses per major, and even then they are not that bad. My friend, who goes to University of Illinois and I were comparing sizes of lecture halls — I said mine seated about 100, while hers seated about 450. That was the size of my high school graduating class.

Professors also start to look familiar after a few semesters. Each academic department is small enough that the odds of having the same teacher a second or even third time is pretty significant. Because of this, Drake students can build actual rapports with their professors, increasing their chances of getting internship connections, research opportunities and recommendation letters.

While relationships with professors and other students are wonderful aspects of going to a smaller school, my favorite part hands down is the trust. Yes, the occasional petty theft does occur, and it’s probably a good idea to keep your doors locked at night. But if you’re studying in the library and need to run to the bathroom, you can know your backpack will still be there when you come back. You can leave your phone in the middle of your table at Hubbell to go get food, and it won’t go anywhere. I’ve heard plenty of stories of people who have lost their wallets to have them returned untouched a few days later by some kindhearted student who saw the name on the ID.

It’s all too easy to take for granted the privileges we have going to a smaller school. Our sports teams may not show up on ESPN, and we may not get the government funding that state schools do, but we can smile at friends across the quad and safely step away from our stuff for a few minutes. And we can always say that nobody else does Relays quite like Drake.

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