I'm applying to English programs, and I wondered if I could ask for some advice. My husband is a resident and will not finish his program until the summer of 2012 and so I'm limited in terms of where I can apply. My dilemma is this: while there are some really excellent PhD programs around here, for me, honestly, looking through the research areas and interests of the faculty at these programs, I'm finding that I'm not terribly excited by what I see. These programs have great reputations, but I'm just not finding anyone that fits my interest area very well.
My question would be this: how important do you think it is to be in a PhD program where the faculty's interests are well aligned with your interests? Is it enough to have one person, for instance, whose reserach you can sort of see yourself interested in? I've heard that no matter how great the program, if you can't find someone who's really interested in your work, it can really ruin the experience. And I've heard that when you write your personal statement, you need to sort of mention some of the faculty's interests and show how your interests fit, and if I were to do that in my situation, I'd be really stretching it, and I'm dreading the process.
I've got three professors who're on track to write me letters to all these different programs, but I'm thinking now that it might not be worth it to apply to all these PhD programs, because even if I got in (which would be a long shot anyway, given how competitive these programs are), they might not be the best places for me anyway. I'm thinking it'd be best to get my MA, beef up my application, and then apply out to programs where I'll be happy and when I won't be so bound geographically.
Any wisdom you can offer would be most appreciated.