I was most interested in the column by Carolyn Edelstein ’10 GS, “Going Back: When Undergraduate Alums Choose a Second Round at Princeton” (Student Dispatch, Jan. 8), and English department chair William Gleason’s statement to the effect that no departmental graduates had returned for graduate study in “at least a decade.”
In my era, it seemed there was an actual push for high-ranking English A.B. graduates to re-enroll as graduate students, and there was a designated, albeit meager, fellowship award to the individual readmitted. Since the highest-ranking A.B. graduate in my class chose to go elsewhere, I was offered the fellowship, and I chose to continue at Princeton.
With all due respect to my teachers, I share, based on personal experience, the “prevailing sense” among current faculty that a comparable but different institution, with different teachers, offerings, ideological orientation, etc., provides a much richer educational experience.
The same writers and literary approaches were in favor as in the previous four years; the same insularity ruled, with its dead white (male) bias; the same instructors taught the same subjects in the same way. A particular incident stands out: I and my then-wife applied to a program established to send white academics to teach one year in traditionally black Southern colleges. This didn’t work out, but as I remember, the Princeton English faculty who knew about it were shocked: “You don’t want to do that” was the general reaction.
Everything changes, including Princeton, but I would recommend that members of the Class of 2014 consider very deeply the benefits to be gained from graduate work in an entirely new intellectual and social environment.