Larger high schools may offer more extracurricular activities, but they also present a number of disadvantages for students, including overcrowding and a lack of personal connections with faculty. In many cases, communities must weigh the pros and cons of large schools and the costs of new building projects in assessing community educational structure.
A more basic drawback of attending a large high school is simply the overcrowding issue. This can stick out from the time a student arrives at school and tries to get a decent parking spot. Once inside, crowded hallways can lead to students becoming overwhelmed and experiencing delays moving to and from classes. In large classes, students may struggle with cramped desk space and competing with other students for attention.
Lack of Engagement
It is easier for a student to get lost in the shuffle in a large high school. Teachers, staff and administrators interact with hundreds or thousands of students a year and find it more difficult getting to know students than small school professionals. Students who don't feel a personal connection to one or more teachers or staff members may lack the sense of community that small schools often provide. This lack of engagement can often cause students to feel like no one cares about them or their education, which demotivates performance.
The old adage "A small fish in a big pond" often applies in large high schools. Highly extroverted students who get involved in many sports and activities may still achieve notoriety or gain recognition for academic accomplishments. However, the majority of students who either blend in or even isolate themselves, may simply disappear into the shadows in a large school. Lack of personal attention and recognition can impact both the academic and social experience of high school students and this may impede their success in college.
High Dropout Rates
Calls for high school reform generally result from the fact that students at large schools experience much higher dropout rates, according to "Solutions for America," a website operated by the research organization, Pew Partnership for Civic Change. Students indicate that limited personal attention from teachers is a key factor in their failure to graduate, as larger schools often struggle to come up with the money for enough resources for instructors and students.