Mar 23, 2006, 10:52 PM
Post #49 of 764
I've tried to stay out of this one (and a few other tangent oriented threads) mostly because the threads are so long and involved to read and I have priorities (like writing;)). So I am writing this without having but glimpsed at everyone's own personal ideas about ranking and who would be ranked where. When you think about it, I doubt anyone actually cares where Hemingway or Faulkner went to school. Or Gwendolyn Brooks or Sylvia Plath or insert favorite author/poet here. I feel compelled to point out the future success of any program really comes from us, our incoming generation, who will shape the future perceptions of certain schools. One reason I think Iowa is considered to be so highly ranked is quite honestly because it was the first workshop around of its kind, and so naturally young artists, like one of my favorite authors John Irving, were going to be attracted to studying there. Iowa was early and came out strong because there was no other place for these writers to apply for a program that catered to them. Then other schools caught on, giving more and more choices, and attracting big name writers who like the thought of teaching and having a steady salary. Iowa continues to dominate this group's thoughts, but if next year the Pulitzer Prize Winner comes out of a smaller school with a less well thought of program insert name of school here, suddenly that school would take on major prestige.
Re: [fishy] U.S. News and Worst Report
The idea of prestige in selecting a school seems to be a major concern for some people. I guess I find this disturbing. Especially coming from a group of people I consider to be well read, engaged with the world, and interested in it. The truth is, no matter how well reputed a school is by others or even by yourself, if you don't work your ass off to make your writing better, all the prestige in the world won't help you. I don't think this sort of thing ever bothered any writer before the advent of the MFA, and even since then it really shouldn't matter at all either. Who really cares so much what other people think about your chosen path/school? If someone says Iowa is great and you happen to go there and think it is great too, that is fine. But if someone says a different school is not as good as Iowa and you didn't get in to Iowa and you are heartbroken, rather than thinking you are going to a subpar school (because your education is only as good as you make it) the real question you should be asking yourself is why do you care so much? This really relates back to middle school and trying to fit in and wear Guess jeans and having certain sneakers and if you don't then you just aren't cool. Whatever. For some the idea of ratings is a way to make themselves feel superior by going to a 'superior' school. Again, whatever.
Rankings are impossible, even with the best of criteria, because everyone's needs are different. It is funny, but my honest reason for leaning towards one school at this point is because they want me, they are great on the phone, and I feel comfortable. So in the end, if you are looking at a school based on prestige, good luck to you. It won't help your writing one whit in itself though. That is all on you whether you go to an MFA program or not, and despite the incredibly subjective 'ranking' of your school. One last thought: if/when you have kids, try "ranking" them sometime and see how well you do. It can't be done! (I tried this with my dogs.)