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The Social Benefits of Small Schools

While the image of the large school provides endless fodder for television and movies, researchers have identified numerous educational benefits to learning in a smaller environment.   

Small learning communities like Areté benefit all types of learners, and the advantages extend far beyond academic achievement and test scores. Wasley et al. (2001), Nathan and Thao (2001), and multiple other researchers have found that small schools create communities where students are “known, encouraged, and supported,” reaping powerful benefits from an exceptional teacher-student connection. 

Small schools provide unique opportunities for:

  1. Social and emotional growth
  2. Relationship and community building
  3. Close teacher-student and peer-to-peer support
  4. Leadership development 
  5. High self-expectations for achievement


At Areté, our small seminars — averaging six students per class — promote thoughtful, provocative questioning and collaborative thinking,  deepening and expanding discourse.  At the same time, the Areté Seminar is pensively playful – a rare place where a student can revel in the satisfaction and fun of learning while also developing a powerful academic identity and voice. Not surprisingly, our students, surrounded by supportive, passionate, clever classmates, also report greater social satisfaction, belying the myth that small schools are isolating.

Click here to read what Areté students say about our close community and seminar-style classes. 

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