Many women are concerned that large knives and petite hands don't go together, you're not the only one. Knives aren't golf clubs. Stature and hand size have very little to do with the appropriate knife size. Grip does, but that's a learned skill.
It's easier to control (i.e., "point") smaller knives with a naive grip than larger knives, but with an appropriate grip the longer knives point just as accurate and intuitively and end up more productive and efficient.
If you were buying knives for a home kitchen, I'd point you to the "basic" kit of four knives. But, as I understand culinary schools, they like you to have more knives -- including a few specialty knives. We can certainly work within your budget and manage to get everything or darn near; or we can put the slicer and a few of the specialty items like the fish spat until later.
As I say, the rub comes when you start thinking about sharpening.
Like a lot of other people it's not something you think about. You probably come from a home where knives are seldom if ever properly sharpened, where using a honing rod is considered sharpening, and where dull knives are the norm. Unfortunately, that's often the case in professional kitchens and culinary schools as well. But a very sharp knife makes a huge difference in speed, comfort, and the precision of your work.
Good sharpening isn't cheap. Adequate sharpening though -- we can manage. It depends where you put your priorities and how much time and effort you're willing to put in learning. If you go all Forschner, you can get away with a combi "oil stone" (all stones are whet stones, some are oil stones, some are water stones) for less than $30; or one of the "V" stick or a decent pull-through sharpeners for around $50. The first is a good start, and one you can add to, but takes some maintenance and has a definite learning curve. The second group of choices will never be better than barely adequate but are a lot easier to learn.
I can inform you, tell you about consequences, and so on; but these aren't choices I can (or want to) make for you.