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WORTH IT: Class Size

by Dominique D.

Inspired by the popular Buzzfeed show, Worth It, I am going to compare three different class types at three drastically different price points to see which one is most worth it for its price. But the catch? We’re not using price. And we’re not eating any food. Unfortunately. Instead, I am going to be comparing class size from the tiny 10 person classes to the largest 200+ lectures.1

$$$ < 30 People

The first “price” we’re going to discuss is the smallest class. These classes are normally activity or discussion types with a strong focus on hands-on projects and participation. It’s the type of the class that if you don’t meet someone new after 6 weeks of learning, you’re doing something wrong.


  • Burning questions will be addressed immediately
  • Close-knit environment


  • You have to talk, build, write, and sit next to people (which could be an advantage for some people!)
  • Those burning questions will take up a larger part of the class time

In my opinion, the best feature of this class size is the intimateness it achieves. You and only a few other students are completely immersed into a topic that the teacher is clearly passionate about. 

$$$: 30 < People < 100

The next price point is the medium class size, from 30 to 100 students. Classes range from discussions to seminars that include some projects but do not require as much participation. Most of the classes are in this range so if you’re looking for diversity in your schedule, you’re in the right place.


  • More material and presentations, less questions immediately
  • Content is geared toward individual likes and dislikes


  • Individual ideas are not expressed as much
  • Hard to ask questions as it stops the flows of the class

Final thoughts: it’s not terrible but it’s not the best. There are definitely good parts and not so good parts but it’s a welcomed break from an extremely small class to a large one.

$$$: 100 < People

The final price point is the largest class size and the most intimidating. Classes include seminars and lectures usually in a large hall or auditorium. If you want to change a class on the day of, you want to change to a larger class because you can drop in and immediately follow along


  • Questions don’t exist – pacing is fast and material is direct
  • You don’t have to sit next to anyone if you don’t want to


  • Questions don’t exist
  • Content focuses on the breadth not depth
  • Impersonal (the teacher won’t remember you and you won’t remember anyone)

This class size is a hit or miss for me. Some classes were hilarious, informative, and I walked away with random knowledge (i.e all of the Wikipedia classes) but others were dry and confusing, leaving me with less knowledge than before. 

The Winner

After reviewing all class sizes (and heavily racking my brain on the classes I took), my Worth It Winner is < 20 People. Even as a person who does not like meeting new people, the relationships gained from listening and talking to my teachers and peers outweigh the disadvantages. The bond created between the teacher and student is unparalleled to another other class size and I have always left with a new piece of knowledge. Of course, content affects the experience but, I would take a < 20 people class size over a 100+ class size any day. Although I’ve been attending zoom meetings, I’ll be back in MIT at an ESP event soon enough and you will most likely find me in a < 20 people class. 

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