Connections to Professors: Opportunities Small Schools Offer vs. Big Schools

As I go on runs throughout the Decorah area, I often pass through the neighbors surrounding Luther’s campus. Besides stopping to admire the beautiful houses (a bit of a tangent here but I just need to comment on the fact that there are just SO many wonderful houses in Decorah. I honestly need to just go on a tour around Decorah to admire them all), I love running through these neighborhoods just to see all the young children playing outside.

One of the things that I absolutely love about Luther is that it is basically situated at the center of all these wonderful, safe neighbors, and a large majority of the professors live in these very neighborhoods. The fact that so many professors (who also walk to work which is so admirable) live right next door to Luther really speaks volumes to the kind of community at both Luther and the surrounding Decorah area.

The small-town, small college community is probably the biggest thing that brought me to Luther. While many of my friends at large state schools complain about how their professors don’t care about their success, at Luther I am surrounded by so many professors who truly care about both my success academically and as a person.

Don’t get me wrong; large universities have a lot to offer. However, one thing they do not usually offer is strong connections to professors. Many university courses are taught in large lecture halls where you are one of 300 or 400 students. While being lost in the crowd may be appealing to some, I personally like when a professor knows me by first name and that connection to professors is the thing that really drew me to Luther.

Here are some reasons why connections matter:

1. Being Successful

The professors at Luther truly want you to succeed and if you are willing to put in the work, they are willing to help you through the process.

2. Nurturing environments

Some people might be able to thrive in hostile environments, where professors are verbally abusive, but I certainly do much better in environments where I feel comfortable voicing my opinions.

3. Care and Empathy

I cannot emphasize just how much professors at Luther care. In high school, I found that a good amount of teachers only see teaching as a job and they address it as such. Whereas professors at Luther see educating as a vocation, and they therefore address it in a completely different manner. They set high expectations and push you to achieve them. Yet they also understand that you are only human and life sometimes gets in the way, and so, if you communicate with professors, you’ll find that they have so much empathy as well.

4. Internship/Job Opportunities

Because you form such strong connections to professors, the professors get to know you and can offer you both guidance on career paths, as wells as opportunities for internships and jobs.

Here's a view of the neighborhood right outside Brandt

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