Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Large Programs or Small Programs?
While there are many great small programs (Cornell, JHU, etc.) and many great small programs (Iowa, Columbia, etc.), it seems to me that there is a significant difference between the experiences you will have one or the other. I thought I would make a post here to open discussion on the pros and cons of program sizes. Do you prefer a close-nit and small group of students and faculty to bond with? Or a large diverse body of students and professors to sample and stretch you? Something in-between?
I don't know about anyone else, but when I applied for programs this wasn't something I factored in. In retrospect, I wish I had, as my application list would have been a bit different.
For what it's worth, I chose to come to a very large program and I am very happy with that decision. In my experience, it is rare to find a reader who is a great fit for you, but a large number of students makes the possibility of finding multiple good readers to share work with much higher. I find the same to be true of professors. A reader or teacher might be great, but that doesn't mean they will be great for you, especially if your writing is atypical. Most of all, I love the diversity of voices, styles and aesthetics I am presented with.
Anyway, that is what I think, but I'm sure a strong case could be made for small programs as well. Let's hear it.