I've already mentioned that I was doing a course in Development and Growth at the London School of Economics. It is a different environment for me, to be honest. Birkbeck has a wide variance in ages, with 22-year olds and people in thir 50s on my programme. (I'm 28, in case you were wondering.) You also feel that everyone is more or less in the same boat; you are neither lesser nor greater than your peers. This enforces a collegiality of sorts, with the course group organising socials and group study fairly easily. As one of the class representatives last year I even set up a single website with all of the downloadable research papers we had to read, an effort much appreciated by fellow students.
The LSE, on the other hand, is full of bright young things fresh from completing their Bachelor's degrees. I felt like the oldest person in the room in the first lecture on Tuesday. Not only that but that everyone else, while not necessarily being so, exuded that they were smarter than you. This, to be honest, is a little intimidating. A lot of the students there clearly have not heard of countersignalling. Several students asked questions they clearly already knew the answers to to show off. (This was a lecture; there were not any questions directed to the class.) The competititiveness was clear from the outset. A lot of the packed room was clearly auditing the course for difficulty; some students left at the break, I guess intimidated by the sheer amount of the econometrics that we have to cover in the lectures. Except when we cover institutions (and not much even then) a political economy course this most definitely is not.
I do like the course and lecturer a lot, and I have no plans to switch. It's just different to what I'm used to, that's all. Probabaly not really worth posting about. Within two minutes of meeting the LSE's MSc tutor today (to get my intercollegiate form signed) she smiled and told me not to dissapoint her.
This is going to be an interesting year.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003