There was no genuflecting. I was kind of hoping to see the actual medal, but no. He was very nice and we had a good conversation. At least I thought it was good – it’s hard to tell what he thought.
I spent the afternoon at University D yesterday. I met and had lunch with a couple of students, which was fun and enlightening. Then I met with several faculty members, including the department chair (see paragraph 1). It seems to be a really formal, hierarchical program. The students speak of their professors almost reverentially and didn’t use first names. They both said they love the program, though. The profs I spoke with were pleasant enough, but they weren’t easy, casual conversations. That’s a big deal for me – I tend to do better in casual environments. Hushed tones are not my thing!
I had some trouble getting them to understand what I want to do. They don’t have any research ongoing in wildlife issues, but those are very rare, so I didn’t expect that. What I had said I’d like to do is focus on the methodology for policy development, which can then be applied in multiple areas, including wildlife policy. They do have research going on in the methodology aspect, but they all kept telling me that hey don’t have wildlife research. At least the chair seemed to get what I was aiming for and was encouraging about the possibilities, if I was admitted and went there. I guess I have some work to do on my statement of interest to make that a bit clearer.
It is, however, one of the oldest of these programs in the country and is very well respected in the field. It’s a little slower paced than Univ R, in that Univ R has the program set up to be completed in 5 10-week terms and Univ r has 4 15-week terms. They also have the choice of a 6 credit thesis or 3 credit paper. That gives the flexibility to add another elective. They say most students choose the option of a paper, unless they’re planning to go on for a PhD.
I told you that I’m an inveterate listmaker, so I have to do this:
Univ R Pros:
- Casual, collegial faculty
- Very flexible program, even to the point that they suggested crafting independent study versions of some core courses where I might be familiar with a lot of the material
- They’re pretty hungry for students, so maybe the financials will work out better
- Lots of faculty interest in the area I’d like to focus on
- Location (near my folks)
Univ R Cons:
- Program not terribly well known
- Faster pace (which may not be an issue in the end, but feels that way to someone like me who hasn’t been in an academic class room in 20+ years!)
- Only have thesis option
- No funded research in my area of interest
- Location (nasty, nasty winters!)
Univ D pros:
- Well-known, well-respected program
- Active research in my area of interest (assuming they really do get what that is!)
- Slower pace
- Active internship component
- Flexible program (although science electives are limited)
- Option for thesis or paper
Univ D cons:
- Formality of department
- No funding available for 1st year; it’s not clear whether they commit to 2nd year funding at time of admission, so that might be an unknown
- Science options for electives are limited
- No Wegmans!