Large university vs. small liberal arts

Karen Wheless wheless at sunchem.uucp
Sat Nov 26 13:59:20 EST 1994

.US (Amy Caudy) says:
>>       I am a high school senior in the midst of the college scramble.  I
>> plan to major in microbio or molecular bio.  I have had a long
>> relationship with a local university of fairly good regional reputation
>> where I work on lots of DNA recombination, PCR, and some free radical
>> stuff.  It is a wonderful relationship, but the school is small.  Of
>> course, I would be able to continue my work and not have to beat my way
>> into labs for permission to wash petri dishes.  However, the department
>> has only 11 people (including zoo, botany, and microbio).  Alternatively,
>> I am considering some larger universities (Duke, Case Western, MIT,
>> Harvard).  Being with other highly intelligent students (as well as having
>> a critical mass of professors in research) appeals to me, but I want 
to be
>> sure that I have plenty of opportunities for research as an undergraduate.
>>  I plan to go for PhD if not also MD with the plans of becoming a
>> researcher.  My mentor at the small college has told me that I would
>> really be a hot graduate prospect if I got several papers out as an
>> undergrad.  He has said that the opportunities for publication would not
>> be as easy at a larger place.  I would be delighted to hear about any of
>> your experiences, either personally or on the net.  Thank you.

I graduated two years ago from a relatively small college (William and 
Mary) and am now a PhD student at the much larger University of Georgia 
(in chemistry).  For me, this was the best decision.  Academically, being 
at a liberal arts callege helped me immensely - I got a much more well 
rounded education in chemistry (because I didn't have to choose a 
specialty, the way students often do at larger schools) which has helped 
me in my graduate studies.  I also got to study lots of other subjects - 
history, music, etc. - which were not only interesting to me, but helped 
me in chemistry as well (in writing, reading).  Many of the science 
majors I see here at Georgia don't take anything outside of science 
except a few boring courses that they have to take - and it shows in 
their writing.  You'll also have more of a chance at undergrad research 
at a smaller school - although a determined person can do research 
anywhere.  Socially, it depends on the atmosphere of the school.  Don't 
worry too much about "interacting with scientists" - that will happen 
wherever you are, and even at a larger school, many of the students will 
have no interest in scientific discussion.  The actual number of 
sciene-loving students is probably about the same.  If you can, find out 
if the school you're interested in goes to regional scientific meetings 
on a regular basis - it's a great way to meet people, and find people who 
share your interests.  With e-mail, you can strike up "long-distance" 
relationships wherever you are!  Good luck.


        Karen Wheless              "Art is I, science is we."
 wheless at              Claude Bernard

More information about the Womenbio mailing list