1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
Re: QOL in doctoral programs - lower-ranked progs v higher-ranked?
Having seen both ends of the spectrum (top 5 and top 100), it seems stressful for everyone. QOL just differs largely by location, i.e. anything to do besides grad school?, whether or not you have an SO, if wife/husband/fiance(e) probably higher but not if it's just GF/BF, your strong friendships in the area, and how much your stipend/accumulated wealth is worth in the region. I wouldn't say there's more pressure at the top, just that you're directed toward topics that are more likely to get into A journals. Beyond that, the topics of B and C journals take as much time and stress as the topics featured in A journals.
For what it's worth you're not going to hear this from the interviews except obliquely. As a practical matter, no lower ranked school is going to acknowledge they're lower ranked to prospects and certainly not by saying because they're lower ranked they'll make it easier for everyone. Think of it as a "poor" person introducing themselves as "lazy" to someone they're trying to impress.
May be you'll get lucky and only have projects soar, but if you're like most of us, they'll dash into the rocks more often then you'll care to acknowledge. The trick is learning to learn something from each collision. Once you figure that part out, the balance gets easier.
If we do our job right, we'll tell you something you already knew. If we do our job well, we'll tell you something you didn't. Unfortunately, the latter is often indistinguishable from doing our job poorly.