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HopperFu


Apr 25, 2006, 8:38 AM

Post #51 of 430 (13395 views)
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Math Can't Post

I'm one of those people who thinks funding is a big deal, not just because I - and many other people - couldn't afford an MFA program without funding, but because I think it shows the University's commitment to the program and is a statement of their belief in the importance of the program.
But let's do the math (may be off by one or two grand).
Wash U in St. Louis: Tuition $39K, plus $16 stipend = $55 K per year
Columbia: Tuiton -$35K, plus living expenses (this is probably VERY low for NYC) -$20 = -$55K per year.
There is a $110K per year swing in the expense of the two programs. Basic opportunity cost.
For some people, the expense may not be an issue, because they have spouses with good jobs, family money, money of their own from working real jobs, whatever. If you can afford it, it's not really an issue.
I do have a problem with the idea, however, that some of the most expensive schools - Columbia, Sarah Lawrence - are the ones that seem most like they could actually afford to give funding (at least to some people).
And I do believe that it is better for some people to get funding than for nobody to get it. Life is competitive. When we are graduate, we are going to be competing for publication. I don't think it is cool to have funding that is re-evaluated after a year and then reshuffled, because that would foster lousy feel in the program. Sure, the students who don't get funding are going to be annoyed, but they don't have to go to the program.
More importantly, however, funding is a function of the University's priorities. If they truly believe the program is important, they will make sure there is funding. Iowa is a large program, and while their funding is not perfect, they do ensure that any student who needs it can get some sort of funding. Obviously, at smaller programs - like Wash U - it's much easier to fully fund.
And I don't think the demands at most programs are particularly onerous. At Cornell, I have to work 8 hours per week at the Lit Mag for the first year (while taking a workshop and two classes per semester), and then TA one class per semester the second year (taking one workshop and one class per semester). Cornell: Tuition $33K, Stipend (including summer funding and health insurance) $21K for the first year. So the first year I'm getting $54K worth of funding for 8 hours per week for about 36 weeks of work. They're paying me about $187 an hour. That tells me they believe there is value in what I am doing.

Which has nothing to do with Columbia as a program. I've actually only heard good things about it other than the funding.... I just think funding is a huge deal, particularly for a degree that has no intrinsic value.


Dewey


Apr 25, 2006, 8:44 AM

Post #52 of 430 (13395 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

Hey Clench,

(this is dlil27 with a new name)
First off...I'd just like to say thanks for the info from the open house - their web site is misleading. Second...what I'm getting from your posts is that you are unwaveringly drawn to Columbia - so go brother, go! 25K won't kill ya. And that's your worst case scenerio. I keep telling myself that my 35K from undergrad can be always be deferred if worse comes to worse. It's all government loans and, I believe, with Perkins and Federal Direct loans for graduate students you can get 6K and 18.5K respectively, so you'd be covered - gov loans are the way to go for security purposes, like you fall on hard times and can't afford the payment.
Having said that...as far as the rest of us go, since I think you have no choice but to go with Columbia - you're in love with the place and no one can, or should even try, to talk you down from that...

"Tom Kealey says being a TA is equivalent to a 30 hour a week job."

He also says that there are a number of programs that offer fellowships that allow for little to no work. Michigan gives you full-funding the first year, then has you work one class per the two remaining semesters. Brown's first year proctorships are non-teaching positions "for a limited number of hours per week" and their first year fellowships "are awarded in recognition of merit and personal need, and do not require employment." Washington U has fellowships and scholarships the first year, teaching the second. Minnesota does something like that. Everyone knows about Michener.
True, there aren't many schools out there like these, but they do exist and TK is clear about which schools make their grad students teach too much, like 30 hours a week, and which do not. I found over 15 programs that offer full funding (tuition remission, health insurance, and a stipend) on a non-tiered basis. BUT...maybe we should define full funding because the stipends vary from these fully funded places. And some times the school fees, not counting the waived tuition and health insurance, are enormous.

Once again...you should be a happy guy because you've been accepted into a program that clearly has you stoned - celebrate it!
I'm happy for you.


Dewey


Apr 25, 2006, 9:00 AM

Post #53 of 430 (13392 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Math Can't Post


In Reply To
At Cornell, I have to work 8 hours per week at the Lit Mag for the first year (while taking a workshop and two classes per semester), and then TA one class per semester the second year (taking one workshop and one class per semester). Cornell: Tuition $33K, Stipend (including summer funding and health insurance) $21K for the first year. So the first year I'm getting $54K worth of funding for 8 hours per week for about 36 weeks of work. They're paying me about $187 an hour. That tells me they believe there is value in what I am doing.

Congratulations HopperFu! I didn't know Cornell's funding was that great. I knew they had full funding and I knew about the teaching for two years after graduation opportunity, but... Funding's a major concern for me too. I need money. I wish I didn't, but I do. There I said it. And I'm the type who can go without food for days and not kill anyone. And I could live in my car...my dog wouldn't care. But money seems to be important in this world so that's a big factor in my application decision whatnot. That and the program itself - courses and whatnot. And the school as a whole, as you say, is important. Cornell's on my list, has been for a while. It's so hard to get in there. Well, I'll know this time next year if they're interested. Good for you though. Let us know how things go for you with the program.


HopperFu


Apr 25, 2006, 9:21 AM

Post #54 of 430 (13389 views)
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Re: [Dewey] Math Can't Post

Thanks, Dewey. Yes, Cornell's funding is good, but it's probably about the same as other fully-funded (tuition remission plus stipend) programs.
I don't think money is something we should be ashamed of needing / wanting. I'm not asking for wealth, but I am not going to get much out of my program if I am worried about feeding myself and paying the rent. There are many people, however, who may have outside sources of funding, and that is wonderful; it opens up a number of excellent programs for them that are not open for me.


__________



Apr 25, 2006, 9:39 AM

Post #55 of 430 (13388 views)
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All about the (stipend) Benjamins Can't Post

I agree with H-fu about the money, though I'd ammend his take to reflect that with tuition wavers, you're just dealing with fantasy money anyway. For instance, I wouldn't consider School A's $40K waiver and $10K stipend a better deal than School B's $5, 000 waiver and $20K stipend. Maybe it'd be nice for bragging rights, but if tuition was never in the cards anyway...


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Apr 25, 2006, 9:41 AM)


sarandipidy


Apr 25, 2006, 11:24 AM

Post #56 of 430 (13368 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote

Again, I think you are not taking into account that these programs aren't giving you money for nothing. They are using you as workhorses to teach undergrad.

I have no problem with this. I think it is a great idea and I, as someone who wnats to teach, would love to be doing it. But lets not pretend they are giving you this money free. Tom Kealey says being a TA is equivelant to a 30 hour a week job.

So Columbia is charging 60,000 but not making you work while JHU (or whoever) is charing you zero and giving you a bit of money, but making you work 30 hours a week.

A more balanced view here might consider how much Columbia would cost you if you had a 30 hour a week job on the side. How much would that cut off your tuition? Someone who is more sober can do the math. I'm sure that JHU (or whoever) is still going to be giving a better deal, but the deal wont' be THAT astoundingly better.


Well, number one, it depends on what you want to do when you graduate. Many of us would like to teach. If you would like to teach, TK and others seriously recommend attending a program where you can TA. Everyone has to start somewhere, and 10 dollars an hour plus thousands of dollars in tuition waived--just to teach some undergrads--doesn't seem bad to me. Especially because a lot of that work is done on your own time and in your own home.

At least, this will be the situation for me at Oregon. I'm teaching a class that meets one day a week for a couple hours. It will require some individual conferences each semester (15-20 minutes each I'd guess), lesson planning and grading. In return, my tuition is waived and I receive about 1100 dollars per month, plus basic healthcare (!!). Not bad, considering. In NYC this wouldn't be possible to live on; in other places of the country, like Eugene, it should be fine. In all honesty, that's a great deal. I think for UO that amounts to about $30,000 per year to teach one class, and though the second year I'll have to teach freshman composition, the first year I teach CW to a group of six students. I have to take (and pass) a pedagogy class to teach the second year, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it (good because I'd like some guidance, bad because it takes up time).

Some programs treat you like workhorses, yes, where you have to teach two (or even three) classes per semester. But many other programs will only have you teaching one, and in return you get an education and some money for rent and food. If you have some savings to help you, this is an especially comfortable situation to be in. You should have enough time to write.

I personally think that funding and TA offers should be included in hypothetical rankings, particularly for an MFA degree, for two reasons. First, like I said above, you can't do much as a writer but teach or work in publication. If you want your job to revolve around writing--and not, say, teaching kayaking or training horses or something--it's good for your MFA program to offer both TAships (enough for most students) and literary journal work. That issue, I think, is reason enough alone to consider a program more highly than another in hypothetical rankings.

Secondly, even though most jobs for writers include teaching and editing, the job market is scarce as hell these days. An MFA program should not be sending their students out into this harsh writers' world with loads of debt. I don't necessarily agree with TK's statement that programs with funding care more for their students, since some schools are just plain poor all around. Sarah Lawrence is one. Though an expensive private school, they literally have no money to throw around.

But in the case of Columbia I really do think this is accurate. I'm sure that the CW program itself cares very much for its students, but it's clear that the university does not support them as much as it should. Maybe it doesn't take the art school seriously enough. Columbia is a member of the Ivy League, and it should be obvious to them that their MFA program is both popular and hurting at the same time. It's not a smaller, no-name department that doesn't need funding. Obviously, the size of the program matters here, and maybe it would do them good to cut it down; they'd be more selective and be able to help their students more, rather than just leaving them to fend for themselves. I think something one needs to remember before attending Columbia is that not everyone "makes it." Some people make those connections, and those are the names you hear later, but not everyone gets a book award right away (or ever), or a great fellowship. There are too many graduates each year from every school in the country, including Iowa's 20 or so (and all their talent and/or connections). Taking on loads of debt is not a good idea for a writer no matter which way you look at the situation. Even if they've got Fitzgerald and Joyce teaching fiction. It's just not.

Still, $25,000 is your worst case, and you should be going by your own individual situation. This discussion we're having encompasses the broader group of applicants. You really seem to love the program, even for its flaws (which every program has), and you don't seem to mind the idea of said "worst case." Hopefully you'll luck out and end up with even less, which you speculate as very possible.


sarandipidy


Apr 25, 2006, 11:53 AM

Post #57 of 430 (13359 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Math Can't Post

Hey HopperFu--

Actually, from what I know, SLC is pretty poor. :) I don't think they get much money back from their students, so their endowment is not very high. They are also a much newer school than Columbia (or Cornell, which will be an alma mater for both of us!), so they haven't had much time to get their funds up there. I went there for three semesters and I always remember people talking about the lack of money.

I'm so excited for your coming to Cornell, even though I won't be here. I'm going to miss the CW professors that have pushed me along. The undergrads are pretty good--most of them care so much for their GPAs that they won't be poor students--but I'd be prepared for a few slackers in beginning CW classes. Try not to teach the early section of CW 280/281...I was in the 9:05 one and everyone was pretty much sleeping, including my TA. This is a year away for you, so I'm just babbling after a couple cups of coffee, but time does go by rapidly....

I'm actually pretty excited to teach. I remember my TA was so encouraging of my writing; he was so supportive and gave me some great advice. I think I'd really like to be on his side of things. I know how valuable his help was in getting me excited about writing again, and maybe I can do the same for someone else.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 25, 2006, 12:02 PM

Post #58 of 430 (13354 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] Columbia Can't Post

sarandipity:

I really hope I'm not sounding like I think funding isn't important or good. It is. It is very important. The TAship used to give you experience and pay your way is a great idea and I certainly wish I was going to a program that did this. It is great.

I wasn't trying to say that programs that make you TA are using you as workhorses. I was just trying to say that we should acknowledge that at those programs (it is true what others have said, sometimes you get really lucky and don't have to do any of that) you still are working a bit. So if we assume you work an equivelant number of hours at a part-time job while attending NYU or Sarah Lawrence.... well you are still paying a lot, but less than the numbers being thrown around. Again, I (and I'm sure most writers) would prefer to be TAing, but it is still something to keep in mind.

All that said, I'm not sure I agree with you that schools should be ranked based on if they give you TAs since the job market is scare, etc.
At least from everything I've read, TAing experience doesn't really matter when getting hired. What matters first and foremost is your publications and what matters second is school you went to. Someone with two popular books and a degree from Iowa is going to get hired over someone with no books but 4 semesters of TAing at Podunk. Most likely they will get hired over someone with two popular books and 4 semesters of TAing at Podunk too.
At least that's what I"ve been told.


HopperFu


Apr 25, 2006, 12:07 PM

Post #59 of 430 (13351 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] Math Can't Post

Thanks Sarandipidy,
I'm obviously really excited about starting my MFA and looking forward to teaching. I would like to teach when I am done, so the experience will be a great thing. I'll try to avoid the early classes.
I don't know a ton about Sarah Lawrence, but I do know that MFA programs can be cash cows for schools (particularly low res programs). That doesn't mean that programs that ask money from students are not worthwhile or good programs, but I do think that funding is usually a reflection of the school's priority.
More important, I think there are so many programs that do have good funding, that if funding is important to you (as it is for me), then you can make it a priority.
It's harder for somebody like Clench (who started this discussion) because he is geographically limited to where he wants to search. I don't know of an MFA program in the NYC area that has what I would consider good funding.
There are other constraints, of course. I know plenty of people who went the low-res route and thought it was absolutely worth it.

The economics are worth noting. The average first book advance is definately well-below $50k, and I would bet good money that less than 75% (and this is being optomistic) of MFA graduates publish one book, let alone multiple books.

Hmm. This conversation really isn't about Columbia, per se....


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 25, 2006, 12:24 PM

Post #60 of 430 (13346 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Math Can't Post


Quote

The economics are worth noting. The average first book advance is definately well-below $50k, and I would bet good money that less than 75% (and this is being optomistic) of MFA graduates publish one book, let alone multiple books.


It's true, but I remember another speakeasy poster saying once that they don't live there life positing themselves into the worst case scenario.

I remember recently the Mid-American Review published an issue of all first-time published authors. Flipping through the bio/comments in the back I was pretty shocked to see how many people had been out of MFA programs for years before publishing a single poem or story. So yes, maybe 75% or worse never even publish a book. But this is part of why I think going to a top program is important. If you are going to do an MFA, it seems like you want to do it where you are going to get the best education, improve your writing the most and hopefully make some connections.

This is not, by any means, to say one needs to go to Columbia. There are certainly programs I'd take over Columbia's (believe me I've been cursing everyday I haven't gotten off Johns Hopkins' waiting list), but the scare market is a both a reason to be concerned with funding and with the quality of the program.


Quote

It's harder for somebody like Clench (who started this discussion) because he is geographically limited to where he wants to search. I don't know of an MFA program in the NYC area that has what I would consider good funding.


Well, NYC isn't the only place I'd live, but I do have a suspicion, and maybe it is stupid of me to think like this, that I'd be miserable living somewhere like Irvine, no matter how good the program is. Or at least, the enjoyment I'd get out of living in a place like NYC over a place like Irvine is worth a lot in my mind.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Apr 25, 2006, 12:28 PM)


sarandipidy


Apr 25, 2006, 12:55 PM

Post #61 of 430 (13336 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

<<At least from everything I've read, TAing experience doesn't really matter when getting hired. What matters first and foremost is your publications and what matters second is school you went to. Someone with two popular books and a degree from Iowa is going to get hired over someone with no books but 4 semesters of TAing at Podunk. Most likely they will get hired over someone with two popular books and 4 semesters of TAing at Podunk too.
At least that's what I"ve been told.>>

I think I should have clarified a bit. I don't think TA experience matters for a tenure position. As in, you already have two books and some awards and you're looking for a permanent job. But two books doesn't come out of a hat; you will most likely need more than a few years to reach the kind of level, unless you are amazingly lucky and prolific. What do you do in the meantime? Unless you are one of the lucky few to get a nice fellowship/Fulbright/whatever, you might need to get a temporary position somewhere. As I said, you can teach people to kayak. Or work in accounting. But if you want to stay in academia, I think that teaching experience could help you get an adjunct position at a community college or smaller college, until you can actually get your work out there. Likewise, lit journal editing experience will help you in that field, where you'll also have to start at the bottom. Most people have to work up from the bottom, in any field. If you're sending a resume somewhere when not many people know your name, you have no books, and your work experience=zero, I'm not sure how much the "University of Iowa--MFA" would help you. Columbia may be a different story; it's an Ivy League degree. That could help when you're starting at the first or second rung, though I have no idea for sure.

But from what I gather, experience does matter to employers. I wanted to apply as a job at a small, family-owned florist and they required previous experience. We're talking about institutions, here. Teaching students who pay money to be there. Paying you a fair amount of money to be there. Not cutting flowers while making seven dollars an hour. You know what I mean? I do think experience, having something to put on a resume, would help for a beginning teaching job. Before, you know, we all teach at super-amazing MFA programs. :)

And from what I know from the head of the CW dept. here--who is my advisor--it really is about the writing when you're applying for a job. Two popular books, Iowa degree with two less popular books, doesn't mean quite as much if you're facing a hiring committee (i.e. future colleagues) who don't appreciate your work enough. One good MFA program (I won't say which) was considering a pretty famous poet, and it turned out that the majority of poet-teachers just didn't respect his work enough. He would have really brought positive attention to the program, I think, but they didn't think his work would "fit in" the program. You need the book and the degree--those are the prerequisites. But whether they like your book (and your personality!)more than Iowa grad's book is a matter of personal preference. So implies my CW dept head, anyway. Which thus implies that every program is different. Maybe some immediately take Iowa grads over others, but schools exist that look at the writing quality first and foremost.

For every anecdote, there is a counter-anecdote. Milk is good for you, milk is bad for you. You know? Things just happen as they do.


sibyline


Apr 25, 2006, 2:42 PM

Post #62 of 430 (13306 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] Columbia Can't Post

just want to point out that at a number of programs, stipends are highly subsidized for students, so i don't think it's fair to say that in these programs the university is using its students for cheap labor.

since these are the schools i was looking at closely, the ones that i know about are cornell and michigan. hopperfu has already crunched those cornell numbers: 8 hrs. / wk. for 21k the first year, 1 class per semester for 23k the second. i've taught comp classes before and i would say the workload is between 15 and 20 hours/wk. per class. that's $32 an hour at 20 hrs./wk., doing a job that's directly career-related. not bad.

michigan's numbers are comparable. lower stipend but no teaching at all the first year. and i believe there are a handful of other programs that do the same, as well as fellowships within the individual programs.


HopperFu


Apr 25, 2006, 3:11 PM

Post #63 of 430 (13293 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Columbia Can't Post

I'd echo sibyline's point: I think that the work "demands" of most programs for TA's seem pretty reasonable. Most of the programs that I know of ask you to TA one class per semester. A number of them don't ask you to work the first year.
There are some programs that do seem to make you work ridiculous hours with loads that are too high, but there are plenty of programs that don't.
Basically, if funding is important to you - and realistically, it will be for most people - you can find a program that has reasonable funding with reasonable expectations.
And dude, sibyline, if you're putting in 15 hours a week on your students, I'm going to be impressed. Oh wait, are you actually going to read their work?


sarandipidy


Apr 25, 2006, 8:01 PM

Post #64 of 430 (13245 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Columbia Can't Post

I'd agree with both of you, but Cornell's stipend--23K, right?--is unusually high. Most places that offer waiver/stipend/healthcare don't pay that much for one class.


glerk12


Apr 25, 2006, 8:05 PM

Post #65 of 430 (13244 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Columbia Can't Post

Here's why I decided to go to Columbia:

They offered me a 15,000 a year fellowship--one of only two they give out.

I'm nonfiction and they have, as far as I can tell, the best nonfiction faculty. Iowa's nonfiction program certainly didn't seem to compare.

I was lucky enough to have all my undergrad expenses paid for by the school--even housing. I wisely invested the money I was going to spend on college.

I've worked part time during my year off and will work part time there.

My worst case scenario is I get out debt free. My best case scenario is being 30,000 ahead.

And for God's sake, I needed something to do with myself.


HopperFu


Apr 25, 2006, 9:10 PM

Post #66 of 430 (13224 views)
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Re: [glerk12] Columbia Can't Post

I don't think there is anything wrong with paying for an MFA if you can afford it, and I don't think anyone is trying to make you or Clench feel defensive about going to Columbia. It's a good program (though I know nothing about non-fiction programs).
It's just for that most people, the money really is an issue. They either don't have it to spend in the first place, or if they have managed to save that kind of money, they don't want to spend it because they know they will probably never make a large amount of money again in the future (assuming they stay in the arts).
Some of this conversation goes back to the idea of rankings, though. There are no objective rankings of MFA programs and there is no way to make them. All MFA rankings are subjective and individual, and you have to decide how much financial aid plays a part in that ranking.
For me, financial aid is huge for two reasons: 1) I could not afford to go without a full tuition waiver plus a reasonable stipend to pay for child care, and 2) I believe that financial aid is reflective of the institution's backing and respect of the program.
Columbia never even made my list for applying because I simply couldn't afford it, and even if I could, my partner and I don't want to live in NYC. Plenty of other people want to live in NYC. If you can afford Columbia, you want to live in NYC, and you are willing to bear the opportunity cost of going there, it's supposed to be a great program.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 26, 2006, 1:36 AM

Post #67 of 430 (13172 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Columbia Can't Post

Well I for one appreciate being put on the defensive. Or, at least, I like to see a real range of opinion. There is a degree to which I automatically move to devil's advocate mode in any conversation and if everyone here was lauding Columbia, I'd probably be bringing up reasons to diss them.

Money is defintly always an issue. It has always been for me. The kink here is that there are so many factors in choosing an MFA that it is hard to balance them out. Bighark had an interesting post on this subject in this thread a few hours ago which either got deleted or he/she deleted himself/herself.

The other thing is that, it seems, your retrospective judgement depends so much on your later success or failure. If you end up publishing and doing well, no matter what program you did will seem worth it. If you end up failing, you will probalby question your choice in program (either "why did I spend so much money on a worthless degree!" or "Why didn't I go the best program possible!").



Glerk12: I've talked to at least one Columbia student who said if they could do it over again they would do nonfiction at Columbia, because the faculty is so amazing. I think picking non-fiction at columbia is an easy choice (easier than fiction). Congrats. We should PM.


sibyline


Apr 26, 2006, 11:49 AM

Post #68 of 430 (13130 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] Columbia Can't Post


In Reply To
I'd agree with both of you, but Cornell's stipend--23K, right?--is unusually high. Most places that offer waiver/stipend/healthcare don't pay that much for one class.


yes, cornell has the highest stipend i've heard of, except maybe stegner, which isn't really a grad program. although the same point can be made of programs that have lower stipends, especially the ones that don't require students to teach at all their first year.

and hopperfu, dude, i wish i could do my writing mfa while still teaching photography. with photo all you need to do is look at it and go, "it sucks. do something better." in comp. you at least need to skim a little bit to get the highlights.


rooblue


Apr 26, 2006, 1:15 PM

Post #69 of 430 (13108 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Columbia Can't Post

Funny, I used to routinely get that "it sucks. do something better" comment on stories I wrote as an undergrad -- and that was from the teacher, not a grad assistant. Critique-light, we called it.


willbell
Will

Apr 26, 2006, 2:05 PM

Post #70 of 430 (13087 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

I have no opinion...
Just thought I'd post a link to an article in the Columbia Spectator...
http://www.columbiaspectator.com/.../04/24/444c65f6e911d


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 26, 2006, 3:14 PM

Post #71 of 430 (13067 views)
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Re: [willbell] Columbia Can't Post

It was posted and discussed a little earlier in this thread. Though I'd love to hear some other people's takes on it...


Happylittlelazy


Apr 26, 2006, 4:57 PM

Post #72 of 430 (13038 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

Here's a response from a Columbia MFA grad, sorry if it's already been posted:

http://feliciasullivan.com/?p=278


Dewey


Apr 26, 2006, 5:55 PM

Post #73 of 430 (13014 views)
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Re: [Happylittlelazy] Columbia Can't Post

Wow - now that's a stance. Seems to me that Columbia is one of those love/hate places or things. Both Slouka and Sullivan are incensed over their Columbian experience and both make their experiences clear. And you really can't argue with someone else’s experience. The problem or issue, concern that I have with that is that everyone's experience is gonna be different. That's why I'm already a bit nervous about talking to current or former students about a program - it's just their opinion and just how things went for them. However. If the same issues keep croppin' up and those issues matter to me, I'll have to take heed. So, I guess that's a good thing about doing student interviews.
One thing that struck me about Sullivan's opinion, well two things, is that she says she had to make her own publishing contacts in her own way. But then she says that she refused to go to any of the functions or get-togethers. Oh yeah, and she says that she's "sure the administration at Columbia couldn’t stand" her. Which brings me back to my concern about other people's opinions - what if they neglect to tell you such a revealing thing? They tell you all this terrible stuff about a program without the disclaimer of "and by the way, everyone hates me." Even with her bitterness, Sullivan finds some good things about the program. I thought that was interesting and even hope inspiring. Her positives are like what's already been said, if you want to like the place, you'll find a way to like it, but they're even further along those lines - even if you don't like it and don't wanna like it, you'll still find something to enjoy.
Thanks for that link Happylittlelazy (nice name)!
BTW - I love the idea of pass/fail classes. I don't even mind everyone passing, as long as they're learning. But Slouka may be saying that they're passing without having learned anything. That's a problem.


sarandipidy


Apr 26, 2006, 7:10 PM

Post #74 of 430 (12998 views)
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Re: [Dewey] Columbia Can't Post


In Reply To
One thing that struck me about Sullivan's opinion, well two things, is that she says she had to make her own publishing contacts in her own way. But then she says that she refused to go to any of the functions or get-togethers. Oh yeah, and she says that she's "sure the administration at Columbia couldn’t stand" her. Which brings me back to my concern about other people's opinions - what if they neglect to tell you such a revealing thing? They tell you all this terrible stuff about a program without the disclaimer of "and by the way, everyone hates me."


In her defense, Sullivan didn't say she *had* to make contacts by herself. I think you missed her tone. It sounds more assertive--she made contacts on her own because she didn't have to be babied by the program in order to build relationships with other people. ("Agents? Editors? Authors? I met these fine people and friends MYSELF."). It just doesn't sound like something she's complaining about; she seems proud.

And regardless of whether or not the adminstration couldn't stand her, it does not excuse her professor's behavior. You simply don't say that to someone in a public forum.

Honestly, if Slouka is right about people in the program continually hiring their friends without books over those with both teaching experience and books, then I think that program has a serious problem (even besides Columbia's lack of support for the art school). That shows a lack of integrity and respect for (paying!) students--unacceptable.


littlecities


Apr 26, 2006, 8:09 PM

Post #75 of 430 (12987 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] Columbia Can't Post

I believe Ms. Sullivan. I took two creative writing courses when I was at Columbia undergrad from two of the professors who teach both MFA courses and undergrad workshops. I'll name names, too. For one, Ms. Phyllis Raphael. Her two books/CV credits:

Beating the Love Affair Rap and Other Tales from the Village Voice (Orca Press, 1983), They Got What They Wanted (W.W. Norton & Company, 1972)

Two books, one published in the 70s, one in the 80s. She had one essay in an anthology in 1995 and one essay in Harper's in 2003, that's it! No one would ever be re-hired year after year with that publication record. There are other professors at Columbia that rarely publish and hire their friends, too, not just her. How about Associate Professor Louise Rose? Look her up on Amazon, you won't find a single book.

Anyway. For those of you interested in another person's point of view, you could read this interview with Alan Ziegler in the July 2005 issue of the Brooklyn Rail:

http://www.thebrooklynrail.org/books/july05/ziegler.html

I'd take it with a grain of salt.

Peace.

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