The size of the tablet doesn't matter since it's always in ratio to the screen. I used the smallest tablet size for years doing work for clients. Someone gave me a larger one, but i think I 'm going to go back to the smaller size. Probably medium this time.
ill never draw on paper again
You seem determined to spend a lot of money. Let me say one thing: you are not a professional...yet.
My suggestion is to get what you need to find out IF, and it's a big if, you will be productive with a tablet. I bought a Wacom Intuos 3 with a 4 X 5 surface for my first web-comic back in 2005. Wonderful little tool. I don't like it. It is still sitting next to my Mac computer, collecting dust.
You can ignore everyone else on this thread and spend a lot of money on a board right now! It's your money. However, as a student you will not get a tax deduction for this purchase! If you buy a large tablet AFTER you become a working professional you will be able to write this purchase off of your taxes. You might not care about tax write-offs at this point, but if you plan to become a professional in the future it is time you started thinking and acting as if you were in business. Use that money for something more productive. Buy what you need to just get through your class. Besides, by the time you leave school another, larger, superior tablet WILL be on the market.
Jesus, what the heck happened to my post?
As I was saying, Wacom ain't the only one in the game. Here's a 10x6.25 tablet for $48. The reviews are highly favorable, even though the sensitivity of the pen is only 1024 and that the pen requires a battery.
If you want to go bigger, there's a 12x9 tablet for $87, also with favorable reviews.
With what you'd save, I imagine you'd have plenty of money left over for other art supply goodies.
No, you don't want a tablet where a pen requires batteries. I've used those devices thinking I'd save money but the difference between wacom products and inferior tech are very noticeable. There is a reason why wacom rule the market and you do get what you pay for.
Also be wary that batteries can leak and it has happened to me. I still have a battery operated pen tablet that costs almost half the price of the intuos that i have and all it does is collect dust. The battery compartment is at the upper part of the pen. Because I've applied pressure each time i change the battery the pen has cracked and now it has actually snapped in half. It's operational but held together with tape.
I've had 3 wacom products and they are very durable. The 6 x 8 I've taken everywhere with the laptop and sits in the same laptop bag.
The very afffordable wacom starting point is the wacom bamboo.
I'm thinking about getting a Wacom Intuos3 that is 4" by 6" because someone at deviantART recommended it to me. I guess that is the small size. Someone wrote a review about the Intuos4 at Amazon and said it wears through nibs pretty quickly, and that the Intuos3 didn't have that problem.