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Little town VS big city


Hatem

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Hi everybody,

I was wondering which is better for a graduate student,attending a grad school in a little town where he/she would be able to focus on coursework and research OR attending a school in a big city with many entertainment places,culture events,museums and all what big cities could provide.

I have been living in a little town most of my life,so I am eager to live in a big city but I am worried about the distractions in big cities that might hinder my progress in grad school "if I got in next season". :rolleyes:

I know that it depends on which schools will accept me,wheather it's in a little town or located in a big city I will accept their offer but since I am still in the period of preparing my app.for the coming 2011 season I was wondering If I should focus on applying to grad schools located in large cities.

Any opinions or experiences would be appreciated.

Edited by Hatem
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Really, this depends on you. Neither option is better for all grad students, and I would assert that neither is better for grad students in general.

Based on your post, for you it's a question of whether you have the self-discipline to succeed in grad school in a place where there are lots of other things to do. Since I don't know you, I have no idea if you do or not. :)

Another thing to consider is whether either option will make you bored, actively unhappy, etc. This is something to consider for other location-related factors as well (e.g. climate, prevailing political ideology, availability of public transit, cost of living). Most of the people I know who drank the "It doesn't matter what the place is like, all that matters is my program, because I am a Serious Scholar !" kool-aid when they picked a program, ended up miserable in grad school and dropped out.

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I agree with the previous post, and certainly think it is important to find somewhere that is a good fit for you. We all talk about the fit of a program with our research interests, but we rarely talk about the social fit of a school, city, etc with our lifestyles. I think it is important to find somewhere that provides both the academic and social fit so that you can devote yourself to your studies, while being in a place that also provides a good environment for you to live and prosper.

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Most of the people I know who drank the "It doesn't matter what the place is like, all that matters is my program, because I am a Serious Scholar ™!" kool-aid when they picked a program, ended up miserable in grad school and dropped out

That's what I'm afraid of.Picking up a grad school then discover later that it's just like a prison.

I agree with the previous post, and certainly think it is important to find somewhere that is a good fit for you. We all talk about the fit of a program with our research interests, but we rarely talk about the social fit of a school, city, etc with our lifestyles. I think it is important to find somewhere that provides both the academic and social fit so that you can devote yourself to your studies, while being in a place that also provides a good environment for you to live and prosper.

I used to look for the coursework I enjoy to learn and the research topics I'm interested in but rarely considered the place/social fit,however I have started to consider social fit and other issues relating to my life as both a grad school student and a human being.

I was considering a program in well ranked university and I thought it was designed as I wished concerning coursework and reseach in addition to having a high rate of international applicants acceptance BUT I discovered that the school is located in a very little town or let's say a village with nearly 25.000 habitants.The school even suggessted that grad students may live in another nearby town and commute everyday to their program. :wacko:

Thank you starmaker and thank you adaptations.

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I was considering a program in well ranked university and I thought it was designed as I wished concerning coursework and reseach in addition to having a high rate of international applicants acceptance BUT I discovered that the school is located in a very little town or let's say a village with nearly 25.000 habitants.The school even suggessted that grad students may live in another nearby town and commute everyday to their program. :wacko:

If the students mostly live in a nearby town, maybe that town is where the interesting social and cultural attractions are, and you could do the same commute.

Do you know anyone who attends or works at this university (or any of the other small-town universities you are considering), whether in your field or not? If so, you could arrange to visit them for several days, talk to them about life in the town, and see what you think of the town during that time. You could do the same with big-city universities, for that matter. Though in either case, you have to keep in mind that as you spend more time in the place it will become less novel, which may decrease the distraction.

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When I first entered undergrad I went from living in a town with 210 people in my graduating class to being in the midst of a big city with a campus that was about as urban as you can get (i.e., very few dorms, subway stops underneath class rooms, campus spread out in the city between McDonalds, DD and fire stations, etc).

It was an adjustment, probably more so than most who move to a city because there wasn't really a campus community where I went to school. I liked it for the better and worse. I didn't really know what quiet was until I moved away from home then back into the state I was from. You just forget things like the sound of silence as you go to sleep. I like the smell of clean air and the fact everyone is friendly and knows each other as regulars in my home state. I like the fact that I know who supplies my grocery stores and the person that hands me my coffee in the morning. Some think that is quite hokie, but you never really understand until you come from a place like that. Most of all I like not dealing with traffic!

Away in the city everyone lives in a self-consuming bubble. It's just different: iPods in ears everywhere, brushing past you quickly, very few friendly smiles, if I I held the door for someone they looked at me like I was up to something or if you take the time to take in your surroundings you get run over.

However, I liked culture and access to those kind of events was worth it. There were no boring weekends where I had nothing to do or we had to sit an plan ahead for the next week's adventure....you can just get up and go. Maybe that can be distracting to some. What I found most difficult was finding a private space that was mine and that I didn't have to share with honking horns or whatever else. Once I found a way to adjust to that things became easier. I also liked the politics and the erudition of people more in the city. That isn't a knock on small town folk, but when you do converse with people they are much more up to date with current issues, new books, films, etc. It's nice.

It's all a big gain loss thing in the end...you just have to decide.

Edited by musicforfun
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This was a dilemma for me...I like small towns, but on the other hand, my family needs the resources offered by a big city. The school I ended up choosing was in a small town within reasonable driving distance of a large city. This has turned out to be a fantastic compromise for us. We actually live just outside of the town, in a very quiet area, but also just a few blocks from the freeway leading to downtown (~15 min drive). I LOVE IT!!!

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  • 1 month later...

As others have said, this will depend on you. You don't want to be completely isolated since you'll lose your mind if you have nothing outside of classwork/research. On the other hand, you should consider whether you feel like you'll be easily distracted by a sudden surge of activities. Personally, I grew up in a city and went to college in another city, so I'm very used to having an endless amount of things to do but being able to focus when necessary. I know that I'd lose my mind in a rural area after a while - for me, the middle of nowhere makes a great vacation and nothing more. Once again, I'm in yet another city and I'm absolutely in love with it, partly because it reminds me of my home city (yes, I've done quite a bit of moving along the east coast).

See if you can find contact info for current students and ask them how they feel about their social life. I did this during my application process and it actually caused me to switch up my list because the students at one school were openly bored outside of classes (and they actually seemed a bit bored with their classes :/ ). The location of the school was also pretty isolated - not my style! So definitely take a good look at yourself and your personality, then talk to current students. Good luck! :D

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