There are many academic and social advantages that go along with attending smaller, private schools, but one that might not occur to all people is the athletic benefits that accompany matriculation at a small school. In larger schools, there are a lot of students competing for a limited number of positions on a sports team. Oftentimes unless you are a standout athlete, your chances of making the varsity team are pretty limited.
Things are different in a small school. Private schools tend to have as many sports as they can field within the facilities and personnel constraints they face. Depending on the school’s mission and philosophy, having a solid athletic program may be the focus of the school, or it may be part of the belief of developing the “whole child.” Regardless of the reasons, however, the simple fact remains that athletics attract students, and it is to the private school’s benefit to have a strong sports program. Since there is a reduced number of students from which to pull to outfit these teams, many aspiring athletes that go out for a team will make it.
This reality affords athletes who might not have gotten a chance at a large public school the opportunity to participate and even excel in a sport at a small private school. For example, at Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), we had a student who was well under six feet tall who had the opportunity to play football and develop his talent during his time here; he went on to play football for a couple of years in the Canadian Football League. In a larger school, he may have been overlooked because of his height.
In addition to having the chance to shine in one sport at a small private school, many students wind up being on multiple sports teams, often at the varsity level. While some students manage to accomplish this at large schools, at a private school students are often limited only by their own desire.
Here at R-MA we require students to participate in either a sport or intramural each season so there are many students who are three sport athletes. With 20 varsity sports to choose from and only about 250 students in the upper school, there are many opportunities for students to try sports that they might not have even played before. It is one of the great benefits of a private school, but one that is often overlooked.
Whether you are a great athlete, or you simply want to try out something new, being in a small school allows for many opportunities to shine.