Why I chose IU

Yet I chose Indiana University, and I’d like to tell you why, and what I learned during my visits.

  1. Always visit a school before you make a decision. There are so many things that are more important than Ivy League names, and famous professors, and you will only discover them by visiting, and talking to professors and students. Ask questions!
  2. Ask about the success rates of recent Ph.D.s on the job market. You’ll discover that many humanities departments at Indiana have a placement rate rivaling the most famous universities. In the end, you need a good job, and they’re hard to come by in Comparative Literature. IU will be there every step along the way to make sure you finish your Ph.D. and get a great job.
  3. Find a place that gives you excellent guidance and advising. Both professors and other organizations at IU regularly offer workshops to help you excel in research, writing, and of course teaching, syllabus design, etc. Professors are always happy to see you, and will give you their time and attention, regardless of whether you’re in their class, or if they’re your advisor.
  4. Look for a great department, not just a great university. IU may not be an Ivy League university, but it has a top class Comparative Literature department, as well as some of the best language departments in the entire country. This is something I hear over and over when traveling to conferences, and speaking to people from other universities.
  5. If you don’t really feel at home in a Department, don’t go there anyway because it sounded good on paper. You’ll be miserable, and your research will probably suffer. That’s one thing I learned from several friends.
  6. One of the great benefits of IU is that it is a large university in a small town. That means you get the safe, fun and friendly local community combined with the huge amount of classes that the university offers. Bloomington offers an amazing variety of international foods at bizarrely low prices, as well as classical music, theater, or opera performances happening every night of the week, thanks to the Jacobs School of Music, which features famous faculty musicians, including Joshua Bell.
  7. Money! Of course money is a big deal, and you may be offered much more at other universities. This happened to me, but when I calculated the cost of living, I realized that Bloomington is exceptionally affordable, and you will probably have more left of your fellowship than you would have elsewhere. And remember, a university can offer you more money, but they cannot buy you happiness or success, so don’t let money be the bottom line in your decision.