Purdue Agriculture helps students stand out in the crowd
By Katie Chodil
Photo by Katie Chodil
A large lecture in CHM 115: "General Chemistry." In the fall 2003 semester, 2,250 students enrolled in the course. Students attend a large lecture, a lab with 24 students and a class with the same 24 students to review lecture material and homework.
Graph provided by Purdue University Data Digest 2002-2003
Close to 75 percent of Purdue's undergraduate courses have fewer than 29 students.
Four hundred students in one class? Almost 2,500 acres of campus and 38,847 total students? Yikes!
You're not alone, that's for sure. The sheer size of Purdue University might frighten some prospective students, but before turning away, consider the following. "You can get lost in a crowd of 2,000, or you can get lost in a crowd of two if you really wanted to do so," Allan Goecker, assistant dean and associate director of academic programs for the Collge of Agriculture.
The College of Agriculture offers plenty of opportunites for students to make their mark. One of the best ways is to get involved in any of the 44 student organizations in the College of Agriculture. If you can't find something that sparks your interest there, don't fret; there are over 600 other student organizations campus-wide.
"I was afraid of becoming a number," said junior Lance Hofmann, an agricultural business management major from Clay City, Ind. "But I got right into activities like the Agribusiness Club and Agronomy Club, and that helped me make a close network of friends."
However, developing these networks in a class of 500 may seem intimidating. Just about every Purdue student goes through a large lecture class at one point or another. Several introductory courses, such as general chemistry and biology, can easily have over 400 students. But there are ways to avoid drowning in the sea of faces.
Goecker suggests that students sit in the front of class, talk with their professors and develop relationships with people. "A lot of what you experience here is up to you," Goecker said. He went on to explain that at a small college, sutdents may never have to experience a large lecture class, but they also won't have the variety of resources at hand that a big university like Purdue offers. "You just have more choices in a larger environment, and there are many more things you can achieve," Goecker said.
The best way to figure out if Purdue's right for you is to check it out for yourself, said Stacey Dunderman, food science undergraduate academic coordinator. She recommends that prospective students tyr to shadow a current student for a day. Prospective students can shadow someone they know or contact the academic department they're interested in. "Students can then ask real questions that they might not feel comfortable asking an advisor. Like, 'What is it really like here?'" Dunderman said.
If you're still unsure about what size university is right for you, think about what's most important to you. Is it a place with small classes where you know everyone? Is it a place that offers a lot of choices, activities and organizations? The answers to those questions can guide you in the right direction. Just realize that, if you become a Purdue student, you can stand out from the crowd.