What is a Satellite Campus?

A satellite campus refers to a branch campus located in one city that is part of a larger school system. Boston University, Ohio State University and the University of Michigan are just a few colleges that operate branch campuses. These schools are also common among larger for-profit institutions like the University of Phoenix and ITT Tech. While there are some benefits of attending a smaller campus instead of taking classes on a flagship campus, there are some disadvantages that you should look at before enrolling too.

Basics of Branch Campuses

The basic idea of a branch campus grew as colleges evolved. During the early days of higher education, most students entered college right after graduating from high school, spent four years in school and then found a full-time job. As the backgrounds of incoming students changed, colleges created satellite campuses as a way to meet the needs of nontraditional students. While some colleges will only open satellite campuses in the same state, others will open smaller campuses in other states. Most of these smaller campuses offer a pared down version of the curriculum offered on the main campus but may let students take classes online too.

Vs. Online Schools

It’s important that you compare an online campus to a satellite campus before you enroll in classes. Satellite schools follow the same curriculum as the flagship campus does and will require that you take specialized classes in your major and gen ed courses too. These campuses may be home to just a few buildings or a single building and have a small handful of professors teaching those classes. Though the college may limit what classes you can take based on what it offers on that campus, an online college will give you more choices. Online colleges may give you access to more resources also.

Branch Campus Benefits

Attending a branch campus gives you the experience of going to college while staying closer to home. The professors working for that school will keep regular office hours and meet with students to discuss any problems they might have. Many of these campuses will let you complete all your general education requirements and take some classes within your major before transferring to the flagship campus or one of the other campuses in that school system. The smaller campuses often charge lower tuition rates than the full campus does.

Disadvantages of Branch Campuses

Those who want the full college experience will find that these smaller campuses are severely lacking. Many do not have any dormitories and have just one cafeteria or snack bar to serve all students. You may find that the branch campus in your area has a small library that only stocks books relating to the few majors available on that campus, which will make doing research for your other classes difficult. Kevin Kiley also found that the number of for-profit campuses in the country increased as the increase among nonprofit colleges slowed down. This may lead to more students enrolling in for-profit schools because their local campuses shut down due to the competition.

Branch campuses let students save money before transferring to another campus, and many have connections with some of the most reputable schools in the country. Before signing up for classes at a local satellite campus though, make sure you consider both the advantages and potential disadvantages of those schools.

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