The 10 Biggest Colleges in the US

Three students sitting outside
Updated:
October 24, 2023
8 min read
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 8/28/23

Are you nearing high school graduation and hoping to attend college in a spacious and populated environment? Here is everything you need to know about some of the biggest colleges in the US!

A group of students walking to class

If you’re a grade 12 student on your way to graduation, the prospect of going to university is incredibly exciting and full of anticipation. It feels like stepping into a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities for personal and academic growth, a world like none you’ve seen before. 

Indeed, university is a different dimension compared to high school. From living independently and meeting new friends from diverse backgrounds to entering an environment that fosters curiosity and intellectual exploration, it is a time filled with anxiety for what lies ahead and exhilaration for the pursuit of growth.

One major question that students commonly ask is: Should I go to a big university? In this article, we will go over the biggest colleges in the US so you can decide whether or not they would feel like home to you after high school.

Top 10 Biggest Colleges in the US

What are the biggest colleges in the US? For clarity’s sake, we will define “big college” as schools with a large number of enrolled students attending. Without further ado, here are the 10 biggest colleges that the US has to offer.

1. Texas A&M University

Location: College Station, Texas

Acceptance Rate: 64%

Sitting at the heart of the Houston-Dallas-Austin triangle, Texas A&M University is the 17th-best public school in the US. The school offers a plethora of academic opportunities with 133 undergraduate degree programs, 175 master's degree programs, 92 doctoral degree programs, and five first professional degrees. 

2. University of Central Florida

Location: Orlando, Florida

Acceptance Rate: 36%

With over 240 degree programs across 13 colleges, the University of Central Florida is a hub for innovative technological research. The school takes pride in its forward-looking academic programs and ranks among the top 20 most innovative schools, according to US News.

3. Rutgers University

Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Rutgers University is a nationally renowned and highly accredited public research university, as well as an educational and research powerhouse in the state of New Jersey. The school is especially dedicated to health-related sectors.

4. Ohio State University

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Acceptance Rate: 57%

With 15 colleges and five additional regional campuses, OSU is another university dedicated to technological innovation and health and wellness. The school dedicates every resource to offer all students both enriching learning experiences and exciting community engagement. 

5. University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, Florida

Acceptance Rate: 30%

Being the fifth-best public university, the University of Florida is another academic research powerhouse with 300 undergraduate and graduate degree options spanning 16 public colleges. The school values momentum more than anything, driving forward research, innovation, learning, and personal growth.

 6. University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign

Location: Urbana–Champaign, Illinois

Acceptance Rate: 45%

US News ranks the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign as the 13th top public university and the 41st top national university. The university is also rife with development opportunities, having 16 colleges, more than 150 undergraduate programs, and over 100 graduate and professional fields of study.

7. Florida International University

Location: Miami, Florida

Acceptance Rate: 64%

If you live in Miami and are passionate about research, Florida International University is the place you need to go. As a world-class research institution, FIU is home to 11 schools and colleges and more than 190 degree options that have nurtured many award winners and cutting-edge researchers. 

8. University of Minnesota

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Acceptance Rate: 73%

The home of 150 undergraduate majors, more than 550 graduate and professional degrees, and approximately 1,000 internship opportunities. The University of Minnesota cares deeply for the future of students, housing award-winning faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and world-class education that promise effective growth. 

9. University of Texas at Austin

Location: Austin, Texas

Acceptance Rate: 29%

With 3,000 committed teaching faculty, 270 areas of study, and 18 colleges and schools, the University of Texas at Austin is ranked 10th place in top public schools. The school is not just rich in educational and developmental opportunities it provides, but also its many various partnerships in education, research, and community service.

10. Arizona State University

Location: Tempe, Arizona

Acceptance Rate: 88%

US News ranks Arizona State University as the country’s top innovative school. With 16 colleges and more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degrees, ASU prides itself on offering world-class education and research that leads to innovation and discovery.

The Pros & Cons of Attending a Big College

To help you paint a better picture, here are some advantages and drawbacks of enrolling in a big college.

Pros 

Let’s start with the pros of attending one of the biggest colleges in the US.

Exposure and Networking Opportunities

A student and teacher shaking hands

With a larger and more culturally and ethnically diverse student body, students at big universities have the chance to build a vast network of connections. Networking with peers, faculty, and alumni can open doors to internships, job opportunities, and collaborations in the future.

Speaking of opportunities, many large universities attract international students and offer study abroad programs, enabling students to immerse themselves in a multicultural environment and gain a global perspective. This exposure enhances cultural awareness and fosters a broader understanding of the world.

Large universities often have extensive alumni networks with successful graduates across various industries. Access to this network can provide valuable mentorship, job leads, and professional development opportunities after graduation.

More Opportunities for Growth

Large universities often offer a wide range of academic programs and majors, providing students with diverse options to explore their interests and passions. This breadth of offerings allows students to have a better chance at finding the right academic path that better aligns with their career goals and aspirations. 

Big universities attract top-notch faculty members who are experts in their respective fields. Students benefit from learning from renowned professors and industry professionals, gaining valuable insights and mentorship that can shape their academic and professional growth.

Many larger universities also have well-funded research programs and state-of-the-art facilities, offering students extensive opportunities for cutting-edge research across various disciplines. Participation in research can provide valuable hands-on experience and lead to a deeper understanding of their chosen field.

Enriching Campus Life

The benefits are not just academic. Large universities often have vibrant campus communities with a rich array of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations. Students can engage in various events, sports, arts, and community service activities, fostering personal growth, networking, and lasting connections with peers.

Large universities tend to have more significant financial resources, leading to better infrastructure, modern libraries, advanced technology, and comprehensive support services for students. These resources enhance the overall learning experience, student lifestyle, and student well-being.

Furthermore, due to the size and complexity of large universities, students have numerous opportunities to take on leadership roles within clubs, organizations, or student government. This experience can enhance leadership skills and foster personal growth.

Cons 

Despite these pros, keep in mind that attending one of the biggest schools in the US also comes with drawbacks.

Limited Access to Resources and Assistance

In large universities, class sizes can be substantial, which may lead to limited opportunities for individualized attention from professors. Some students might find it challenging to establish personal connections with instructors, making it harder to seek help or guidance when needed.

Navigating a large campus can be time-consuming, and getting from one end to another might require extra effort and planning. This could affect a student's ability to attend extracurricular activities or utilize campus facilities efficiently.

Large universities may have vast alumni networks, but services could be more generalized, lacking personalized guidance tailored to student’s unique circumstances. This issue is especially apparent for career path services, where developmental assistance is more impersonal and, therefore, less helpful.

Increased Competition

A female student looking unhappy in class

With a large student population, there might be fierce competition for resources and opportunities, including access to research opportunities, internships, and campus services. Students may need to be more proactive and persistent in securing these opportunities.

For example, popular courses may fill up quickly due to high demand, making it difficult for some students to enroll in specific classes or electives they are interested in. If a course required for program completion and graduation is filled quickly, this problem can get additionally painstaking. 

The competitive and fast-paced environment at large universities can be stressful for some students, potentially impacting their mental health. It's essential for students to seek support and manage stress and well-being effectively. One upside is that large universities may have more resources for mental health and life management.

FAQs: The Biggest Colleges in the US

Still have questions you need to ask? Take a look at our answers to these frequently asked questions.

1. What Are the Biggest Colleges in the US?

As mentioned above, the biggest colleges in the US include Texas A&M University, the University of Central Florida, and Arizona State University.

2. What Is the Largest College in the US by Size?

In terms of land size, the largest college in the US goes to Berry College, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, covering more than 27,000 acres — nearly twice the land area of Manhattan.

3. What College Has the Most Students?

As of now, Texas A&M University has the most enrolled students, with 74,869 being the total amount.

Final Thoughts

Enrolling in large universities certainly isn’t for everyone, so if you feel like that environment is not the best for your future, feel free to enroll in a place with a size more fitting for you! However, it is true that large universities offer more opportunities, as well as more challenges to navigate. 

But perhaps that is the key lesson of university experience: to face challenges head-on and cross through all sorts of hurdles with your best foot forward. We hope this article has provided you with what you’re looking for! 

And remember, even if you feel like a small fish in a big ocean, remember that it's in these vast waters where you have the opportunity to grow, explore, and discover your true potential. Swim against the currents, and with determination and perseverance, you will carve your own path and make waves that impact the world.

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