Mar 2, 2008, 10:12 PM
Post #30 of 165
Re: [mpagan] Michigan Program?
Just a quick response to some of the earlier questions about UM's program. I'm currently in my last semester as a fiction student here, and I can't say enough good things about the feel of the program here. One of the first big things is that everyone here pretty much gets along. You hear rumors of severe cattiness at other places, but that's not really a problem here (partly because of the size--no one having to fight it out for attention--and because of the equality of funding, albeit from different sources).
Another thing to mention (and I'm not sure how much of this goes into the letters) is all the great benefits. So, aside from your funding itself, you get reimbursed for sending stories and poems out ($50 a year), you get book money each winter break (another $50, given by an agent who once was the publisher at Time Warner), you can apply for travel funding for writing research (I just got back from a trip to Berlin heavily subsidized by the MFA)--and, well, the list of perks goes on (one student a year gets three weeks at a house in Ireland, for instance).
OK, so all that's good--but I think the major thing here, aside from having amazing fellow students, is the philosophy of the faculty. They preach long-haul work ethic here. That is, a lot of discussion centers around how you get through the next ten years, etc.--of sticking true to your art and forging ahead, and not worrying about advances and instant success. I mean, this program (and I'm sure several others can say the same) has seen graduates get book deals right after graduation, and others take thirteen years to get there. But no one looks down on one or the other--the focus is the work itself, and taking the time to get it where it needs to be. I guess I'm mentioning this because I think it's important and indicative of the feel of the program. I'm sure other programs can say much the same thing (George Saunders was just here, and talked to us about much of this, so I get the sense that Syracuse has a similar feel). But, basically, you don't have so much of egoes jockying to be the next big thing. Instead, you've got a program where people really care about their work. And a program that backs this up with substantial funding so that you can focus on your work (and that is very much the philosophy here--I actually witnessed a semi-subdued argument about the philosophies of funding between a professor in the Iowa WW and one of our professors, in which our guy made more or less that claim).
OK--I feel like I'm being insubstantive now, so I'll stop here. Post questions if you'd like and I'll try to check back in.
If not, see you at recruitment weekend!