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Dirty Deeds

Jan 4, 2007, 1:35 PM

Post #151 of 764 (21949 views)
Re: [hamholio] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post

I guess I am a little shocked how much people actually care about these rankings or the past rankings. (no offense to anybody, specially Umass) Like many people stated (even the almighty Kealey) any ranking system is flawed and more importantly should only be used as a guide. Jargreen posted a list of his personal top programs etc... and my main reason for posting is that (do I have a point... prolly not- at least nothing that hasn't been said before) although UC Irvine is a very good program (maybe not in the eyes of some) but their fiction program is far superior to their poetry program. So with both ranking systems, there are obviously programs that don't fair to well but are really good in one genre and not another or not as strong and if they are lucky they have two solid programs.

if there was a way to rank each genre and then an overall, it might be more helpful, but there are more than just fiction and poetry offered at a lot of schools (and thus another problem)
anyways thats my two cents
i quit life


Jan 4, 2007, 1:41 PM

Post #152 of 764 (21947 views)
statcians or writers Can't Post

I've been watching replies in this thread increase pretty rapidly over the last few days. I'm curious why everyone is so concerned with packaging learning, knowledge and time into rankings. For me, this MFA Program thread has helped clarify my own applications and confirm that the schools I'm interested in suit my personality and writing style. I have always tried to steer clear of words like best or new, and instead focus on, "Is it me?" or "Do I believe in it?" Maybe this is an over-simplification.

But at the end of the day, when one has decided what school is the most celebrated or has the most funding or has the most accomplished faculty, will they still be writing words that they're most proud of? I hope so.

I don't mean to belittle anyone's interest, but am very curious what this debate will accomplish.


Jan 4, 2007, 2:24 PM

Post #153 of 764 (21935 views)
Re: [ApollosQ] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post

In Reply To
Can someone adequately explain to me in 100 words or less what is wrong with Iowa's funding?

Here's a go: funding at Iowa is tiered. Approximately two writers a year recieve full fellowships for the two years (stipend plus tuition waiver). Funding, in exchange for teaching or other work is uneven for other 23 writers in each program. Those writers recieve funding running the gamut from a decent stipend and tuition waiver to almost nothing. At the end of the first year, all writers except for the fellows have their funding reviewed, meaning that your funding may increase or decrease dramatically. Iowa students - and this seems to depend on how they liked their time there, and at least partially, what their own funding situation was - have said that a) it felt really competitive and horrible, or b) that it was no big deal.
According to a frequent poster here (who is a recent Iowa alum) everybody should be able to finagle some sort of funding, and in state tuition at Iowa is relatively inexpensive.

This model of funding is compared to a number of programs that offer full-funding (a livable stipend plus tuition waiver, usually in exchange for some teaching) to ALL students.


Jan 4, 2007, 2:54 PM

Post #154 of 764 (21922 views)
Re: [jw13] statcians or writers Can't Post

In Reply To
I don't mean to belittle anyone's interest, but am very curious what this debate will accomplish.

An MFA can be a leap of faith, and the belief that your particular brass ring is the shiniest may help justify it for some folks on the ledge.

It could also be a type of thinking-out-loud. In a few months some people here (hopefully) will have to decide between multiple offers in a short period of time, and having the programs ranked for yourself in advance might save a bit of stress.

Finally, (and I think most importantly) it helps pass the time until schools make their decisions!


Jan 4, 2007, 3:07 PM

Post #155 of 764 (21916 views)
Re: [jargreen] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post


Apart from the fact that we disagree about what your own calculations showed about the accuracy of The Kealey Scale (a contention on my part which you may feel is "deranged," but which I'm perfectly happy to rest on, as it's clearly correct), I really think you're a little confused about how the USNWR poll worked in the first place. Quite simply, there's a reason USNWR discarded that poll's "methodology" (such as it was) almost a decade ago, and here it is:

The poll asked various higher-education school officials--some directly linked to CW programs, some not--to rank the "reputation" of various schools on the same sort of quasi-mathematical scale elementary-school children use in their playground games: 1 to 5. It's the least sophisticated rating system one could possibly devise. Not only were these officials not told what a "5" meant, and a "4," and so on--no, they were left to each, individually, draw those conclusions for themselves (and you better believe they didn't all come to the same conclusion)--they also were told not to rank any school they didn't know well, meaning, different MFA programs received different numbers of reputation ratings (Iowa probably the most, and lesser-known schools far fewer). Finally, they weren't told how to measure reputation, or what that word even meant in this context (e.g., reputation for what? Funding students? Finding graduates jobs? Graduating talented artists?). So, the upshot is that you had school officials not necessarily "in the know" selectively choosing which schools to rank using a system whose central terms (cf. "reputation") were undefined and whose rating scale was, likewise, undefined and perhaps even puerile.

But it gets worse. Because the rankings were released in 2007, some of the data was acquired in 2006 and some in 2007; the rankings were therefore based--it's safe to assume--on how various MFA programs were doing in the, say, five years leading up to the questions being posed to school administrators by USNWR. That means the 1997 rankings are probably, at best, a reflection of where schools were in terms of "reputation" (again, a term which is undefined) between 1991 and 1996. The Kealey Scale is a snapshot of where we stand in 2007. In other words, the impressionistic scrawlings (on a ridiculous "1 to 5" scale) we see reified in the USNWR are based on observations made as many as 15 years ago.

Why would you assume, based on the now-discarded methodology I've described, that those USNWR ratings had any legitimacy at the time, let alone now? Particularly when your own calculations--and you really do need to go back and read my post again, Ryan, and check your numbers once more--confirm that USNWR simply had no mechanism, whatsoever, to assess in 1997 schools like, say, Notre Dame and Wisconsin and Minnesota and Texas and Mississippi and LSU, which are now well-respected but which were either entirely or at least "more" obscure a decade ago. Even if The Kealey Scale didn't use fifteen additional ranking factors, as compared to the USNWR ranking, the mere passage of time would make The Kealey Scale far more reflective of present reality.

I think your post betrays your biases (and your disgust with UC-Irvine; and your pro-BGSU bias): as you say, you "have more history" with U.S. News; perhaps you should believe them, then, when they denounce their own MFA rankings as useless and without merit. Likewise, you like the idea of "consensus"--so do I--but you don't draw a distinction between a ranking system where every poll respondent must reply to every question, and one in which individuals are allowed to selectively rank the programs they "know well." That strikes me as the injection of more bias, not less, into the process, whatever the "consensus-driven" nature of the overall ranking mechanism might be (i.e., if a school administrator knows nothing of a given MFA program, why shouldn't that fact be held against the program? The best programs are "well-known," right?). Likewise, a consensus isn't even a consensus at all if no one is defining the terms in the same way, or using the 1-to-5 scale in the same way. Under those circumstances--and those were undoubtedly the circumstances back in 1997--I would rather have seen a single dedicated individual apply a consistent set of criteria, with a consistent set of definitions, to a wide range of programs. Tom Kealey has now done that.

Finally, your comment that "funding" is a subjective criteria is just laughable. I can't believe you really believe that. Just because some people get funding and some don't doesn't make the criterion "subjective"--you do know that, right?; a criterion is only "subjective" if it can't be measured, and I can't believe you actually think we can't measure a school's financial activities, particularly when your own rankings-producing heroes at USNWR make such determinations all the time.



Jan 4, 2007, 3:19 PM

Post #156 of 764 (21909 views)
Re: [jaywalke] statcians or writers Can't Post

Jacarty and JayWalke, Dirty Deeds, jw13,

The darn thing's a guide, nothing more, and just one resource amongst many. Just because rankings are expressed in mathematical language doesn't mean they're intended to be definitive. I've never stated, here or anywhere, that any ranking system is perfect, nor that any system can be used as the sole (or even the primary!) resource in making a life-changing decision like where to go for an MFA. Nor has Kealey said any such thing. What do I hope to accomplish here? Simple: To help folks out. If this Scale helps you, use it--but don't abuse it through over-use. If it doesn't help you, ignore it. I suppose my question would be, why are folks coming to this space just to say they're going to ignore the rankings being discussed here? That's like going to a party just to tell everyone there that you dislike them passionately.


You make a good point. It can definitely be a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. On the bright side, a good ranking system can also rescue a program that really deserves it: in this instance, for example, Notre Dame. Or Wisconsin. Or any one of the many programs USNWR screwed for no reason that is particularly evident here and now in 1997.


I'm sorry to be verbose. I'd like to think I'm not just talking into thin air here, but actually saying things that advance the conversation/debate we're having. As to why I'm fighting so hard for this when the data (and any read of Kealey's Handbook will confirm this) is Kealey's, the answer is that new rankings rise or fall in the first few weeks after they come out. If the anti-ranking crowd shouts down a new ranking or new ranking system, it can disappear quickly. Likewise, if the release of a new ranking is accompanied by confusion over methodology or the employment of fuzzy math/false analogies by its detractors, people may throw up their hands and say the whole effort of learning a new ranking/ranking system just isn't worth it.

Because I know this is the crucial time for The Kealey Scale to be understood, discussed, and legitimized, I'm putting in a whole bunch of personal effort to see that justice is done to it. So, you've got me dead to rights there.


Jan 4, 2007, 3:25 PM

Post #157 of 764 (21907 views)
Re: [umass76] statcians or writers Can't Post

P.S. To Ryan: don't forget that the undisciplined 1-to-5 scale used by USNWR in 1997 was also then used, when it came time for the rankings to be created, to make incredibly fine distinctions between programs. The example I used in The Introduction to my Long Post is that Hollins College scored a 72 in "reputation" (scaled to a 100-point scale), while UNH scored a 64, in the 1997 rankings.

That 8% difference--in a ranking system where every "voter" applied a different meaning to the numbers they chose in the first instance--translated into a 26-spot difference in the rankings. That's indefensible. A single, undefined criterion should never be used to put schools in literally different tiers of quality.


Jan 4, 2007, 3:29 PM

Post #158 of 764 (21905 views)
Re: [ApollosQ] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post

HopperFu & ApollosQ,

Whatever Iowa's funding scheme, my advice (to anyone who asked) would still be to apply there. I maintain that, whatever Kealey may say, it's a top ten program and probably a top five program, even with its funding "problems" taken into account. I wouldn't advise anyone (not that I'm anyone to be advising anyone!) to not apply to Iowa because The Kealey Scale puts it at #12. Apply!



Jan 4, 2007, 5:26 PM

Post #159 of 764 (21869 views)
Re: [ApollosQ] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post

This is absurd. All of it. Kealey's book impressed me because it gave me a way to determine a ranking of programs for myself. Who cares if UC Irvine is #1 or #6 on this list or that? It wasn't in my top 10, or 20, or 100, because I'm not moving to California. We all have factors in our lives to consider as we choose a program--geography is a big one for me (as are funding and faculty). I suppose it's fun to look at somebody's rankings and see where my choices fall, but I also know that nobody can objectively evaluate all the MFA programs out there. That's why Kealey avoided rankings, isn't it? As soon as the ink is dry, the rankings are irrelevant. One example of the absurdity of these arguments: how does Colorado make Jargreen's "Honorable Mention" list when the program won't even begin until next fall? If that doesn't prove the subjective nature of this exercise, I don't know what will.

Anybody who follows college football knows how flawed rankings are. Until we can get all 100+ programs in a round-robin, fight-to-the-death, cage match tournament, we'll never agree on their ranking. And even that would be flawed because poets are notorious for unethical combat tactics.

As for Iowa's funding: It's not that bad. It is competitive, but in-state tuition is available to everyone in the program. To compare it to Columbia is way off the mark.

Jessie Carty

Jan 4, 2007, 6:38 PM

Post #160 of 764 (21832 views)
Re: [umass76] statcians or writers Can't Post

** raises a white flag **

Rankings are rankings. They are subjective but informative.

Who wants to vote on a new topic?


Jan 4, 2007, 6:56 PM

Post #161 of 764 (21825 views)
Re: [Mainer] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post


Based on your comments you oppose all rankings, of any educational institutions. Plus all rankings in sports. Kind of sounds like you oppose all rankings ever done, right? Under any circumstances? Your logic applies with equal force to law school rankings, medical school rankings, engineering school rankings, undergraduate school rankings, business school rankings, and rankings for doctorate programs in education, the sciences, library & information studies, the social sciences and humanities, health, and public affairs. So, your comment is a little out of left-field: you don't even believe in the concept of rankings, so why pick on this ranking in particular?

Re: Iowa. It's a fantastic school, but people who keep focusing on the possibility of in-state tuition are being a little disingenuous. In most cases, you aren't eligible for in-state tuition until your second year, and moreover, we must remember that a "tiered" system of funding (like Iowa's) is one in which you could end up with nothing (nothing) in your second year (i.e., apart from FAFSA-related loans). Some of us with limited options loan-wise, and an undesireable debt-to-income ratio, are a little scared about that, and I don't think it's fair to call us all Chicken Littles.

While I agree Columbia's situation is far worse than Iowa's, it's also worth pointing out that tiered funding encourages competition between students in the workshop setting and even in the practice and performance of their art, and thus damages program cohesion. Columbia, for all its flaws, doesn't have that issue. The good news is Iowa (in the person of its director) recognizes these issues and is trying to solve them. In the meantime, I think people can be excused for feeling like Iowa might drop a few spots in esteem on the basis of problems it has that many other problems don't have.



Jan 4, 2007, 7:24 PM

Post #162 of 764 (21812 views)
Re: [umass76] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post

HopperFu, thanks a bunch. Nice and succinct.

As an aside, to chime into the ratings debate:

I too think ratings are important. I applied to Iowa because it's considered (one of) the best.
But it's easy to dismiss a set of rankings put forth by someone who hasn't gone through an MFA program yet.

I mean, Seth's list certainly seems helpful, but from what I see, he's basically like me, looking at attending an MFA program as opposed to having had the experience. Mainer's right. This is like Bobby, the young defensive tackle at the local high school, voting his top 25 college football teams. It's nice, surely fun for Bobby, and Bobby might even be insightful, but it's still little Bobby.

Kealey's rankings were better the way he wrote them: nice, loose and just vague enough that you had to think about it and gauge things for yourself. (Which, I guess, is what Seth did... except it's now posted for all of us as a measuring stick.)

The worst part about all this? Seth just HAD to post this right toward the end of the MFA application season. Couldn't do it in November, eh? Had to do it so that I saw it THE DAY AFTER I applied to Iowa, eh? Couldn't make me reconsider Virginia 2 weeks ago, could ya? Thanks a lot!

(Yes, that's a joke. Sorta. ;) )


Jan 4, 2007, 7:26 PM

Post #163 of 764 (21812 views)
Re: [umass76] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post


Understand that what I call deranged is the instinct to write over 1500 words to try to prove that one's preferences are mathematically unreliable and, in fact, biased. But here I go with my own verbose reply. I would hope that our fellow posters humor us for just a few more minutes of this fine intellectual jousting match.

You fail to address either of the main points of my reply. But first to your assessment of my assessment of your assessment of my assessment of your assessment of Tom Kealey's assessment of graduate writing programs. Yes, my rankings certainly should betray my biases. They reveal what I perceive to be the quality of each program, and how I value the variables that go into such perceptions. An illustration of this point: I believe that Michigan and Washington in St. Louis are both top-tier programs; however, I rank Michigan higher because I think they have a much better faculty. Now, if I hated everything that Peter Ho Davies and Michael Byers had written, and believed their awards were given because of some bias, I then might find Washington's fine faculty to be more appealing, and perhaps rank its program higher. Many people who've posted on this website would agree that even faculty is a subjective variable (Whom do I like, whom do I not?).

Certainly, funding can be interpreted as a subjective variable. In fact, most people make a completely subjective evaluation of their ability to pay for college. There are folks who are financially capable of paying for a Columbia MFA, or who are willing to accrue that magnitude of debt, and then there is me; I say it could not possibly be worth it. However, if I were a millionaire, I would probably apply to Columbia, because I'm convinced it is a top-ten program. The point is, whether a program can be seen as good or bad based upon how much money they have is completely unfair, and it's a big cause of my disdain for the idiotic rankings published by my heroes at USNWR every year.

As for the USNWR methodology, thank you for sharing more about that process. To tell you the truth, I would probably have asked each creative writing person to judge programs on a scale of one to four stars. That's how many of my favorite film critics judge the movies I may or may not see, so it's a quality scale I understand well. A letter grading system may be even more simple and true, though those surveyed would likely feel obligated to give too many schools an A- or B+. But I don't believe that these people are a bunch of idiots--I'll bet they understood that they were being asked about a general reputation for excellence--and I'm sure they could decide for themselves who deserves a 5, Iowa or Iowa State.

I'm not sure what is won by obsessing over our three lists with mathematical fervor, as it misses the point entirely. You're certain that demonstrating a greater mathematical likeness between my list and yours relegates the USNWR list into the hall of shame, yet you fail to take several things into consideration. First, there are in fact 16 schools in my top twenty that are in USNWR's as well as Kealey's. You were wrong about this, a principal part of your argument, and you must acknowledge it. Second, several of the programs that we studied for our lists did not exist, or were just beginning, in the mid-90s. This doesn't necessarily scare me away from the USNWR list, because I can approximate where, say, Illinois's program may be ranked today, and they still got many things right that you did not (Iowa, Columbia, Arizona, BGSU, Southern Illinois, etc.). It does, however, explain any mathematical closeness that more current lists, yours and mine, would share. Third, the priority you give to some programs that clearly don't deserve it (UC Irvine, again!) and the penalty given to others (Iowa, Columbia, Arizona) based, as far as I can tell, on how you've assessed my money situation, is completely irrational and goes a long way towards explaining my preference for the '97 list.

I want to reiterate that I do not believe that my list is the final word on things. Rather, I would expect anyone reading my list to acknowledge USNWR's as the gold standard. I hope you'll accept the silver. I'll just take the bronze. Now, whether USNWR is a suitable gold standard for us is an essential question, and it goes to the very plight of writers, that so much of our world exists in the mind and cannot be fairly or aesthetically filtered through mathematical computations onto paper. (Please excuse the bold type, which I know is very annoying in forums and emails.)

Back to your failures in addressing my reply. First, you'll have to explain to me how Tom Kealey is to be more trusted than an array of creative writing personnel. If, in fact, E.L. Doctorow or Barry Hannah or Maura Stanton or Wendell Mayo had anything to do with the USNWR survey, then I would politely reject Kealey for the larger group. Second, you'll have to convince me that asking the same broad question that can be applied to all programs is not as good as asking a set of sixteen questions, some which can be answered for more prominent programs and some which can't be answered for smaller ones. I know the faculty at Indiana very well, and each member has a massive knowledge of obscure programs across the country, having spent much time reading about each other, visiting for readings, meeting at conferences, following former classmates to their destinations in life, and so on.

The chief point of my argument is that the opinion of fellow creative writing people is important to me, as I'm hoping for success in that field. Tell me the top twenty programs by reputation, and I'll sift through them for the ones I can afford, for the name of a faculty member I admire, and for the locations I find desirable. I'm afraid that your own--more, what's the word, precise?--rankings missed some of the things those creative writing experts were already able to tell me, that diamonds in the rough such as Bowling Green State and Southern Illinois deserve a second look, and that truly great programs like Iowa and Columbia are not second-tier!

A correction I want to make from my previous message: There was an Illinois-Urbana program on the USNWR list, but it was an MA program. I was blinded by the fact that the MFA is the terminal degree which I pursue.


(This post was edited by jargreen on Jan 4, 2007, 7:30 PM)


Jan 4, 2007, 7:48 PM

Post #164 of 764 (21803 views)
Re: [Mainer] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post


As far as I know, the Colorado program started this year. And it has built up something of a reputation with its non-MFA creative writing program. But you're absolutely right! Ranking MFA programs is perhaps completely subjective! I think my own list is in this forum somewhere.



Jan 4, 2007, 9:36 PM

Post #165 of 764 (21785 views)
Re: Can't Post


I'm sure my Kealey/You/USNWR analysis isn't perfect. I'm also sure The Kealey Scale is more accurate than USNWR97. I think the math proves it. I also think all the stuff that isn't math proves it.

But here's the bottom line, on some level:

1) I posted The Kealey Scale on my blog in the early morning hours of 12/31/06, about 100 hours ago.

2) I only "advertised" what I had done here and on my blog.

3) In the last 100 hours, this is the unique visitor count for my blog: 1,232.

4) In the 100 hours before that, the unique visitor count for my blog was this: 443.

5) The number of visitors to the rankings is increasing every day.

6) It's clear that, despite the negativity of some here, the reason for all of the above is that this new ranking has successfully tapped into something a lot of people really were looking for and/or intensely curious about: a comprehensive ranking of MFA programs that had the legitimacy of a well-considered, if unscientific methodology, and which wasn't a decade old. If you look at the comments on the first page of this very Speakeasy thread (from March of 2006), you see the recurring themes which have now caused well over a thousand people to visit The Suburban Ecstasies in the last 100 hours, even as 10 to 15 people have visited this thread to suggest the rankings aren't, after all, of much interest. Those recurring themes are these:

a) people were looking for an up-to-date ranking they felt they could trust;

b) people were willing to create their own lists through the compilation of data collected by others;

c) people wanted a "transparent" ranking whose criteria were clearly articulated, as opposed to USNWR97;

d) people strongly believed that if someone put the time and energy into it, a new ranking of MFA programs could be
constructed and could be more accurate than USNWR97;

e) people wanted this prospective new ranking to consider "funding" as a primary criterion;

f) other factors people wanted to see considered were teaching opportunities, community outreach programs, alumni publication record, faculty quality, and location;

g) people thought Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, Syracuse, and UC-Irvine needed to be moved up in the rankings;

h) people were open to the idea that Iowa may have lost its top spot amongst MFA programs nationwide;

i) people had particular respect for Tom Kealey's expertise on this subject.

Here are some sample comments (reproduced in part):

"Does anyone know where to get current rankings on MFA in Creative Writing programs?"

- J. Wegman

"I found that by going back and reading all the posts over the last few years, I was able to cobble together a pretty comprehensive list..."

- Thee Swimmer

"There are a number of problems with any MFA program rankings, the most important being that no ranking is really meaningful for you unless you know all the factors that went into it..."


"All this talk of rankings and how the USN&WR ones are so out of date makes me think that we who have done our research are more in the know and can come up with a better rankings list if we talk about it."

- Sibyline

"[Syracuse] is moving up in the world. I have no idea what the funding like there, though. There are a number of programs I'd probably put above.... BU, since it's a one-year deal with little funding. UMass, for example, is a three-year program that has tiered funding (much like Iowa) and plenty of opportunities for teaching (both at the college itself and neighboring universities), as well as poetry luminaries like James Tate, a famed summer writing workshop (Juniper), and an extremely well-respected literary magazine (Jubilat)."

- Big Cities
[Emphasis supplied].

"Actually, I whipped myself up into a bit of a frenzy about the U.S. News and World Report rankings. I have a copy of the 1996 listing on my computer. It was helpful for my application process because it was basically the only information out there.....Iowa is in a class by itself simply because it was ground-breaking and has the amazing history. However, with so many other good programs, I don't know if I would necessarily say it's the 'best' anymore. And the funding isn't perfect."

- Franz
[Emphasis supplied].

"[After listing a personal ranking]...I chose this listing based on the quality of faculty, location, and funding."

- Joseph C.
[Emphasis supplied].

"[Giving a personal ranking, starting with #1]: UC Irvine, Iowa, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Brown, Cornell..."

- Lavash Lavash

"I think each program should receive scores based on A) faculty reputation, B) alumni publication record, C) funding, D) quality of lit-mag published + reading series + other/miscellaneous."

- Rapunzel 1983
[Emphasis supplied].

"Someone forgot to mention that Indiana funds all its students and the publishing record there is very substantial lately. If you're looking for the person who has probably done the most research on this topic, Tom Kealey considers Irvine the best..."

- Clara Bow
[Emphasis supplied].

"I considered funding and geographical location, but I usually looked at faculty first."

- Sanssoileil
[Emphasis supplied].

7) For what it's worth, if you look at the 2006 "Who Got In" board on, you'll be stunned to see the correlation between who got in where and who got rejected where and these new rankings. To be honest, I'm not sure how much can be drawn from this, but certainly some results which would have made no rankings-based "sense" in 1997 (e.g., getting accepted by Arizona but rejected by Mississippi) now at least seem to make more sense with The Kealey Scale. And while I can relate to whoever said these rankings are coming out just a tad late--many application deadlines having passed already--I'll also note that this admissions cycle may be an interesting "test" of The Kealey Scale. That is, looking at where people are applying en masse is at least a little informative (it's amazing how many people are applying, these days, to Indiana, Texas, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Minnesota, and other places which weren't really on the map in 1997 but which under, for instance, The Kealey Scale, are ascendant), as is seeing what the results are for discrete individuals applying to schools ranked in very different spots.

8) Rankings are a self-fulfilling prophecy. If most people are worried about funding (and they are), schools which have great funding schemes will get more applicants and have the luxury of being more selective. Notre Dame is probably a great example of this. Meanwhile, I suspect that programs like Columbia are becoming secretly unpopular--that applications are way, way down, as is "yield"--which diminishes the actual quality of those programs in terms of their present student resources.


Jan 4, 2007, 10:15 PM

Post #166 of 764 (21778 views)
Re: [umass76] Re: Can't Post


That's really fabulous news! Your rankings are great. Please review my posts to find the complete repudiation that you believe is there; and be sure to quote me. I disagree vehemently with a few things, and overall I'm still a very big fan of the '97 rankings. I found those rankings by doing a search for "Top MFA Programs," and if I'd found your rankings instead, I would have been pleased and well-informed.

I just think that Iowa and Columbia are getting screwed, and UC Irvine can't possibly be near the top with only one or two full-time faculty (tell me you agree with this), and Bowling Green State is revered as one of the nation's best programs, not an "honorable mention." Those are very substantial differences that I have with your rankings, and so I prefer the USNWR list (now more than ever), despite all those other agreements you and I have. Now, if I don't have the right to find those things to be more substantial than a minute mathematical advantage that your list may have, then perhaps I am not welcome in the Suburbs.

"All this talk of rankings and how the USN&WR ones are so out of date makes me think that we who have done our research are more in the know and can come up with a better rankings list if we talk about it."



Jan 4, 2007, 11:16 PM

Post #167 of 764 (21759 views)
Re: [umass76] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post

I don't think I'd say I'm opposed to all rankings. In fact, in my original post I wrote of the importance of establishing one's own rankings according to one's own circumstances and preferences. I like seeing other people's rankings, too. Even yours. My point is that in the case of CW MFA programs, I don't see the point of arguing over where a program is ranked, especially in regard to five or six spots on a very fluid scale. There are simply too many factors at play to accurately rank programs (e.g.: faculty transience, visiting faculty, even the quality of classmates' writing and critique). I admire the work you put into your rankings--and the work you're putting into defending them, but I'm a writer not a statitician. I don't mean to "pick on" your rankings. I simply find the arguments they have created to be absurd.

Now, to prove I'm a good sport and not rankophobic, I present my rankings of the top 11 programs in the USA for me. My ranking uses three tiers (with programs listed alphabetically within the tiers). The factors I considered don't apply to anyone but me, so I won't bother identifying them here.


Colorado State
Notre Dame

Bowling Green
Minnesota State, Mankato
Western Michigan


Jan 4, 2007, 11:28 PM

Post #168 of 764 (21753 views)
Re: [Mainer] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post

Hey Mainer, are you a Mainer? That is, are you from Maine?


Jan 4, 2007, 11:30 PM

Post #169 of 764 (21751 views)
Re: [augustmaria] My Fiction Rankings Can't Post

I'm in Maine, but I'm from away. I moved here 7 years ago.

(This post was edited by Mainer on Jan 5, 2007, 12:39 AM)


Jan 5, 2007, 12:12 AM

Post #170 of 764 (21742 views)
Re: [jargreen] Re: Can't Post

1) The US News ranking is 10 years old. Let it go. I mean, you don't have to be a research scientist to realize that the list is no longer accurate.

2) The "Kealey Scale" was written by some guy on the internet. Big whoop. The rankings provided by this scale would be a lot more interesting if the author didn't state that the list contains no original research and then proclaim half a dozen times that entire methodology is completely unscientific.

We're talking about art school, people. Relax. Go write some sestinas or something and come back in March when you have some good news to share.



Jan 5, 2007, 12:19 AM

Post #171 of 764 (21735 views)
Re: [bighark] Re: Can't Post

I agree. Both of these ranking systems are pointless to me. I'm looking for the program with the hottest women.


Jan 5, 2007, 12:26 AM

Post #172 of 764 (21734 views)
Re: [bighark] Re: Can't Post

I suppose that more than anything else, bighark, we debate these sorts of things because it's fun. Because we can't just write all the time, we can't read or watch TV or search for porn all the time. Some of the time it's just plain fun to vigorously, violently, compare notes on something we find neat and important.



Jan 5, 2007, 12:31 AM

Post #173 of 764 (21731 views)
Re: [melos] Lists that actually matter Can't Post

I agree. After I heard that Ron Carlson had left for UCI, I wasn't going to apply to Arizona State. Then a friend told me that ASU is a perennial top-five in Playboy's "hottest student body" list and I was like, "Hell yeah!"

(This post was edited by laughingman on Jan 5, 2007, 12:35 AM)


Jan 5, 2007, 12:44 AM

Post #174 of 764 (21725 views)
Re: [laughingman] Lists that actually matter Can't Post

I've heard that the women of southern California are the only reason to apply to UC Irvine.


Jan 5, 2007, 4:08 AM

Post #175 of 764 (21712 views)
Re: [jargreen] Lists that actually matter Can't Post

like, totally, you know, like, oh my god, like, anyways...

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