Leveraging Your Small University

Using this post as somewhat of a follow-up to my first entry, “Don’t Devalue Your Education,” I’d like to address students who attend small universities.

Students occasionally ask me if going to a small institution will hurt their chances in landing a top-level job. I like to say it depends.

Going to a large university will open up more opportunities for taking specialized electives and networking. Big schools tend to have student-run agencies, high circulation publications and something-for-everyone organizations.

While hiring managers may favor students from large schools because of their prestigious PR programs, small school students have an opportunity to write their own legacy.

My Journey Starting in Small Town, Arkansas
During my four years at Arkansas Tech University, the student population rose from 6,483 to 7,480, but my first name never was replaced by a number.

Because classrooms and organizations were small, I was able to be a vocal leader in both.

~print~
Instead of submitting articles to my university newspaper, hoping for a byline, I became Sports Editor my sophomore year before taking over the Editor’s position my senior year. I have a crate full of articles, editorials and layouts.

~public relations~
Instead of taking the role of bringing pretzels to PRSSA meetings, I became my Chapter’s President my junior year. They still made me bring pretzels. Because I earned seniority in my Chapter early on, I was able to attend three national PRSSA events before running for the National Committee. My university paid almost in full for my seven national events.

~broadcast and web~
I gained on and off-camera experience at my university’s TV station, I co-hosted a sports radio show and I became Webmaster for the organizations I joined.

Summer internships aside, I graduated college with print, broadcast, Web and PR experience — all with leadership roles. I was able to network with hundreds of PR students and professionals, which ultimately led me to my agency in Charlotte.

Putting This in Perspective
~i wasn’t a prodigy~
While I attempt to demonstrate what I was able to accomplish, I wholeheartedly believe my small university set me up for my success. As mentioned above, I took advantage of many leadership opportunities, and I had a handful of professors who became much more than my instructors.

If you go to a smaller university, leverage the opportunities to the best of your ability. It’s not only large university students who have the ability to do amazing things.

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One thought on “Leveraging Your Small University

  1. The best thing I’ve seen people do to leverage lesser known schools is to graduate with latin honors. I’ve never known an employer to look askance at any resume with magna or summa cum laude on it. It will speak to intrinsic intelligence, hard work, or both. Because the honor is normally tied to a ranking percentile, the majority of your classmates necessarily cannot have the same credential.

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