If you’re going to graduate school in some small town, you’ll hear people discuss the virtues of studying in a small town. People will tell you that if you go to a small town for school, you’ll have no distractions, and consequently be able to focus much better than you would be able to in a big city. While this suggestion attempts to identify the silver lining of going to a small town for graduate school, it’s certainly the comment of someone who’s never done graduate school in a small town.
You see, when in an environment where there are no pre-made distractions, you begin to fabricate your own distractions. This can be much worse than going to a lively city for graduate school. Why? I’ll explain through an example.
Let’s say that you enjoy going to nightclubs like many early twenty-somethings. However, the small town you’re in has one club, and, by golly, it’s not to your liking. Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” followed by the Baha Men’s “Who let the dogs out?” isn’t your idea of an ideal night out at the club. So what do you do? You think, “I can create my own party!” But in order to do that, you have to know a lot of people to make it successful. You have to have the space to have it, the money to provide refreshments, the sound system for the music, and the cleaning crew to clean the place up after the party animals tear your place down. And who’s going to do this on a weekly or even bi-weekly basis if even once?!?! So you rule this option out. The next thing you begin to do is look for the closest city. Oh that’s at least a solid 1.5 hour drive. Ouch! 3 hours of driving in one night just isn’t happening on a regular basis. Then you start looking for local organizations you can join, so that leads to a series of Google searches among other things.
Can you see how much energy has already been expended in just trying to find something to do??
Had you been living in a city, such thinking would never arise. You’d simply go to the happening spot when you want to go out and that would be the end of it! Friends and random fliers that catch your attention during your daily routine will alert you to other happening things going on in your city.
Trust me, you’ll want to do something if you’re in small town. Few people can be studious 24/7. And quite frankly, such person would probably be a bore to talk to! So the moral of this story straight forward. No matter where you go for graduate school, you’ll need distractions. In a larger city, the distractions are there for you, so you need less of an imagination. If you end up in a small town, however, you may find that you have to manufacture your distractions. Full stop.
photo credit: Mike Swope