Student Perspective: Smaller Cohort Culture

As a current graduate student, one of my favorite things about this program is the fact that we have such a small cohort. Our cohorts usually range from 20-25 students. These are the students that you will share all of your core classes with. (To see a list of the core courses, click here). Even though our online students don’t typically meet in-person (outside of electing to do the immersion course), the MPA program tries to replicate the small cohort feel by using video conferencing and small class sizes of about 15 people. In my opinion, here are the best parts about having a small cohort. 

  1. You get to know each other really well. Sometimes you spend from 9-5 with the same people for 3 or 4 days at a time. Then you have group assignments or individual papers and create study groups. For online students, you spend your class time with the same people and may utilize zoom after class to create study groups or work on group projects. Spending this extended time together allows you to get to know the members of your cohort pretty well. 
  2. You learn how to communicate and challenge each other in a productive way. Because we spend so much time together, that doesn’t mean we always agree. (Trust me, we don’t – We are human). However, our interactions are so often that we are pushed to learn to be authentic and communicate with each other. It helps us fine tune our communication skills and honor our colleagues in the cohort. This will not only help us as we continue in the program, but also as we move forward into careers. 
  3. You create a tight-knit support system. Grad school is such a big part of your life for 2+ years and these people shared all of that with you. I am thankful to have had my cohort support me through all of the ups and downs. This support system can be helpful during PWE and job searches. (To learn more about PWEs, click here)
  4. We are well-connected! One of the perks of this program is the alumni network. From what I have heard from other alumni, folks remain in contact with each other even after graduation. Additionally, those that choose to work in local government will often attend training at the School of Government. This extended network that is created allows for helping folks get connected, ask for advice, and even search for jobs. 

The perks of the small, personable cohort is one of the main reasons that I was so drawn to this program.