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Spend enough time looking for the perfect college, and you’ll start to feel bombarded by facts and figures: The graduation rate. The post-graduation employment rate. The number of students. The number of majors. The rankings. The cost. One of the numbers that you’ll definitely want to pay attention to is the student-faculty ratio.

Here’s why:

The student-faculty ratio tells you how many students there are per university faculty member. At the outset, it may not seem like the most important factor to consider. However, this number essentially operates as a marker for how large class sizes will be– and how likely you will be to get individual attention.

The more individual attention you receive, the more likely you will stumble upon professors who think you are brilliant– or, at least, have some time to spare on coaching. Such connections will help you to grab hold of scholarships, internships and, later on, a really great job. Make no mistake– professors references will be vital to your success in the job market, especially if you plan to work in Canada or in the US.

So, what’s a low student-to-faculty ratio?

Anything 15:1 or smaller can be considered low.

The “best” student-to-faculty ratio in the United States is at Marlboro College, a university that boasts a 6:1 ratio for undergraduates and a shockingly low 4:1 ratio for graduate students! As one might expect, it follows that this school has extremely small class sizes– just 8 students on average. Try attending a school that small and not getting some individual attention!

What if you prefer to be somewhat… anonymous?

The idea of attending classes with only seven other students may or may not sound like a good idea to you. If you’re from a small hometown, you might be looking forward to the anonymity of a big school, and that’s perfectly fine. After all, there is certainly a benefit to being able to skip class without anyone ever knowing. Plus, large state schools sometimes have more money to spend on campus-wide resources, like student centers and football stadiums.

Anything over a 20:1 ratio is going to give you that anonymity.

The University of Central Florida is an example of a college that prides itself on its size. With over 64,000 students, this school is estimated to have a student-faculty ratio of around 31:1. Wow! Talk about getting lost in a crowd. The benefits? Although you might not get to know any of your teachers by name, UCF is less dependent on student tuition compared to other schools. As a result, it has earned its place as one of the nation’s “best-value” and “most affordable” colleges.

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