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vitadimanche


Mar 21, 2006, 10:52 PM

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Columbia Can't Post

Okay, so I know that Columbia is ridiculously expensive even with the meager fellowship they offered me.

But I just got back from a visit there where I got to meet lots of great people, sit in on two classes, had a tour--got to see the library which is amazing, especially compared to my kind of shitty undergrad library--and just generally fell in love with everything about it and the city.

I've always wanted to live in NYC. I have a great many friends in NYC. And I love the Columbia faculty.

Granted I'm still waiting hear from (re: rejected from) Brown and Houston, so I can't make a decision yet. But.

How crazy am i to just go for it and try to make it work at Columbia? I worry that if I went elsewhere, I'd always regret not giving Columbia a try.

What do others think?


(This post was edited by motet on Apr 2, 2006, 9:23 AM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 15, 2006, 4:04 PM

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Columbia Can't Post

Hey all. So I was accepted to Columbia on... the 1st of March I think... and was contacted by phone. The person, Sam Lipsyte, told me they would be sending a big packet explaining everything, yet I haven't gotten one yet. Has anyone else gotten their packet yet or should I be worried?


(This post was edited by motet on Apr 2, 2006, 9:16 AM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 15, 2006, 4:12 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia question for the accepted Can't Post

Well... shit. The mail just came and I just got a letter from Columbia saying the packet would come soon.

Feel free to turn this into a general Columbia MFA discussion thread though?


happycat


Mar 16, 2006, 10:55 AM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia question for the accepted Can't Post

I haven't gotten any packet yet from Columbia, either.

What other schools did you apply to, Clench? Are you going with Columbia? I am still leaning strongly toward Hunter. Haven't heard from NYU or the New School yet, but at this point I feel like my mind is already made up.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 16, 2006, 12:54 PM

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Re: [happycat] Columbia question for the accepted Can't Post

All things equal (ie funding), Columbia is probably my top pick. Or tied with JHU. They offered me a fellowship, which is cool and flattering, but it would still be expensive. I haven't heard back from most of the programs I applied to, so basically I dunno. Columbia unless someone else offers me a lot more.

(I applied to NYU and New School too)


happycat


Mar 16, 2006, 2:24 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia question for the accepted Can't Post

But all things aren't equal. Tuition at Columbia comes to $70,000 for two years. The largest fellowship they give, which they offered me, is $12,500 per year. That's nice, but $45,000 for a worthless art degree is still a lot.

So, yeah, I'd love to go to Columbia, but I'd also love to be able to work part time (and live off a part-time salary) for the rest of my days, and have lots of free time to write and be happy. That's harder to do when you have a huge college-loan debt hanging over your head. Especially when the most you can hope for as a writer is the prestige of having one of your stories published in the Paris Review, or the meager advance on a literary novel that never earns out. This is pessimistic, I know.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 16, 2006, 4:46 PM

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Re: [happycat] Columbia question for the accepted Can't Post

Well obviously they aren't equal. You just asked me if I was going to go and I said if the funding is the same at anywhere else I happen to get into, then I'll go to Columbia. If not, I dunno, depends on the offers.

Are you sure 12,500 is the most they offer?


happycat


Mar 16, 2006, 5:04 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia question for the accepted Can't Post

Oh, I see what you mean. I thought you meant you'd gotten into a school that was offering you a better financial deal overall--cheaper than Columbia.

$12,500 was what the guy told me was the most. Maybe he was blowing smoke? But Columbia is supposedly legendary for its lack of funding and high price. Like everything else in this city.


vitadimanche


Mar 17, 2006, 11:54 AM

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Re: [happycat] Columbia question for the accepted Can't Post

I was accepted to Columbia for poetry and Lucie Brock-Broido told me there would be quite a delay with my packet, because that's just the way it is.

I know what you mean when you say it's a "useless art degree" but if we really thought it was useless, why would we be so keen on going? Obviously it's worth a great deal (even if only to us) for the time it gives us to focus on writing.

I'm trying to decide between full funding at FSU + stipend and Columbia (which also gave me a good fellowship, but not good enough). I want to go to Columbia so badly, and I REALLY want to live in NYC, but the cost is scaring me. My advisor went to Columbia and is still paying off his loans, but he says he doesn't regret a penny of it because it absolutely led to his success and he made the best friends of his life there and got him the connections he needed later in life, so that doesn't make the decision any easier.


happycat


Mar 17, 2006, 12:22 PM

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Re: [vitadimanche] Columbia question for the accepted Can't Post

Full funding with a stipend is pretty amazing. Congrats!

You'd probably be a bigger fish in the pond there. And Tallahassee is nice... very woodsy, peaceful, kinda dull. Good if you like camping, thunderstorms, and lots of trees. But it is a red state. (I know the area somewhat.) And New York is, well, New York. Lots of tourists, homeless people, and rich kids. If you go for cheap housing near the campus it'll be very cramped and probably ugly. If you go for cheap housing in Brooklyn or Queens, ditto, plus you'll have a subway commute. I love New York but I feel like I haven't had an hour's free time since I moved here. (Except, of course, to post on forums...)

But hey, seriously, and this goes for all of us in the forum (I'm man-facting here): wherever you go, you'll probably be really happy, so don't sweat it.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 17, 2006, 1:22 PM

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Re: [happycat] Columbia question for the accepted Can't Post


In Reply To
$12,500 was what the guy told me was the most. Maybe he was blowing smoke? But Columbia is supposedly legendary for its lack of funding and high price. Like everything else in this city.


Interesting. I only asked because I got the same offer. I guess its cool to know they want me enough to offer their highest funding, but I guess it also means I don't have any negotiating room to get more...


Aubrie


Mar 21, 2006, 11:09 PM

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Re: [vitadimanche] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

Hey - I hear ya. I fell in love with Columbia's program as well. If I had been accepted, it wouldn't be a question as to whether I would go. Debt schmebt.
Beautiful campus, beautiful city, great faculty, and awesome students. Super-strong program....
<sigh>
I hear ya.


Dr. Bathybius


Mar 21, 2006, 11:34 PM

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Re: [vitadimanche] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post


In Reply To
I got to meet lots of great people, sit in on two classes...

Ooh! What were the classes like? How did they compare to your undergrad workshops?


vitadimanche


Mar 21, 2006, 11:40 PM

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Re: [Dr. Bathybius] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

The classes were really great. I didn't get to visit a workshop (though, honestly, I sometimes think nothing could compare to my undergrad workshops, which were AMAZING), because I could only get Monday off from work, and there were no workshops Mondays. But I sat in on Bob Holman's (sp?) class Exploding Texts and Liam Rector's Poets In Their Youth, both of which contained illuminating and impressive discussions. I loved the work the students shared in Holman's class, and the cogent, thoughtful comments made in Rector's class also impressed me. Holman made me jump right in and participate, which was great.

All the students I met were really great too. They had nothing but positive things to say (well, they all begrudged the money, but not enough to make them go anywhere else) about the whole experience. It was pretty exciting. And only makes my decision harder.


JosephC


Mar 21, 2006, 11:44 PM

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Re: [vitadimanche] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

Hi vita, perhaps this might help. I have an acquaintance who went to Columbia for fiction. I believe there is a student office where they help you procure graduate student housing, which he did. And I believe they technically give you 5 years to complete your thesis. He took the extra time, all along qualifying for graduate student housing (somehow, on a technicality, I believe), and got lucky with publishing a few stories and earned an adjunct position at Barnard teaching rhetoric. So for a few years after the two-year program, he managed to stay in reasonably-priced housing, work, and pay a bit of his debt. Don't count this as a promise, because it didn't happen to me, but yes, an acquaintance of mine made it work. Perhaps he was just lucky, but perhaps you will be too. Good luck!


vitadimanche


Mar 21, 2006, 11:54 PM

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Re: [Aubrie] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

:-( Sorry you didn't get in. It's such a difficult thing. I got rejected from most of the schools I applied to, but then Columbia took me. There's no logic to it.

Good luck with the rest of your schools.


Aubrie


Mar 22, 2006, 12:01 AM

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Re: [vitadimanche] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

I haven't heard yet, but I'm assuming it's a rejection.
I'm secretly harboring hope for a waitlist position.
Guess it's not so secret now.


vitadimanche


Mar 22, 2006, 12:05 AM

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Re: [Aubrie] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

You never know, though. Maybe they're waiting to hear if other people turn them down and spots open up....you're not out until you're out.


gussy


Mar 22, 2006, 12:21 AM

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Re: [vitadimanche] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

If you think you can put up with the debt (emotionally, financially, etc.) and you think you couldn't be happy elsewhere, go for it. This issue has been discussed in some other thread, look for it. I don't think it's obviously silly to go into debt in order to go to the program you like, but it's also true that you might as well apply to other equally good programs that might give you financial support. That's why I insist on "if you couldn't be happy elsewhere" (which is, I think, unlikely).

Visiting is a killer, though. Yeah, once you visit, and barring some freakish accident, you will like the program -- or the impression of the program that you may have had in those two or three days. Which only goes to show what you've already said: the decision is tough. But on the other hand it's easy: think, realistically, whether you could or could not deal with the debt. This is a highly variable issue. Some people will be OK dealing with that, and some others will live in misery. Therefore, you are the one who's in the best position to know whether it'll be worth it or not. But don't fool yourself: don't "weigh" the immediate happiness (going to Columbia) against the future unhappiness (being in debt). If you honestly believe you will be unhappy when burdened by the debt, there's no current happiness that can outweigh that. Man, your future self will curse your current self like no one has ever cursed. But if you can deal with financial insecurity, etc., and the prospect of being in huge debt in your 40's doesn't bother you all that much, you're cut to go in debt. Of course, to the MFA debt, add mortgage, potential children and their financial needs, etc.

Also, I'd try to find and talk to people who are in that situation already. I think you mentioned one person. Well, seek more, because the one you met might be the lucky exception. The rest might, for all we know, be terribly unhappy. I've heard horror stories about former MFAers who're still yoked to Columbia's finance department. And I've also heard (fewer) stories like the one you mentioned, about people who are happy despite the monthly payments to Your Master's Voice. Anyway, I'd try to find as many former Columbia MFAers, see how they're doing, and then project yourself being in the shoes of the least favored Columbia MFAer -- perhaps even a couple of notches "below" him or her. (You know, just to err on the side of caution). Would you still be happy then? If the answer is yes, go for it. Of course, in the fate of these MFAers, like in everybody else's, good or bad luck (and other unforeseeable factors) surely played some role. But precisely because of these unforeseeable factors I'd project myself into the worst-case scenario. If I'm OK with that, then everything's going to be fine. But don't trick yourself: project yourself into the really worst-case scenario. If you can deal with that, you'll deal with whatever cards you'll be dealt.

Anyway, this is a mess. That's why I didn't even apply to Columbia. It's not that I'm immune to its charms, but I would have been tempted to go, and I would have freaked out about the debt. I just couldn't handle that. But that's just me :)


LaurenAnne


Mar 22, 2006, 8:35 AM

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Re: [gussy] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

First off, the discussion of this was in the "waiting" thread, where I posed pretty much the same question; I want to go to Sarah Lawrence.

Gussy--this post KILLS me. I totally appreciate your ability to think forward and your brutal honesty, but projecting myself into the worst-case scenario isn't how I've lived my life until this point and I'm just not sure it's time to start now. I really appreciate hearing what you have to say, because it's actually pretty hard for me to picture it. But when I think about the worst case scenario (which for me is that I can't write good fiction AND I lose the fairly good job I have now AND I have the SLC debt) well, I'm not sure how much happier I am if all that crap happens and the debt isn't a factor. Like, that sounds like a recipe for recrimination regardless of whether or not there's a financial element. But the best case scenario? In which I keep writing and keep freelancing at my job? That's not so unrealistic and it's pretty appealing and my imaginary future children will just have to be paid for by my imaginary future husband.

But I guess the real issue, the one Vita is, I assume, facing as well, is more of a bird-in-the-hand thing. I'm in at a program I like this year, and though I know I'd prefer to have no debt, I'd also prefer to actually GET an MFA, so putting it off to reapply next year is unappealing.

Just an opposing view, but I want to stress I do REALLY appreciate what you said. I think maybe having someone really point up the negatives makes them easier to deal with.


gussy


Mar 22, 2006, 12:16 PM

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Re: [LaurenAnne] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

Lauren Anne,

Thanks for your words! It's really nice to have a disagreement like ours -- you know, so kind and respectful !

It seems that you have made your mind, and that's excellent. Again, this is a highly personal matter, and it seems going in debt will work for you. Go for it, and enjoy! I've heard great things about SLC !

Two little things to clarify (but by all means, don't read this as an attempt to persuade you or impose my view). You are right when you suggest that it might be unwise to project oneself into the worst-case scenario all the time. Not only would one feel lousy, but it might even be self-fulfilling. However, when the stakes are unusually high, I think it's a good thing to do in order to help your deliberation. Not that it should necessarily be an overriding consideration, but it certainly is a consideration that should bear on your decision. Second, I totally understand the feeling of "bird in hand." But, as random as this hideous application process is, I think it's very unlikely that you won't be accepted next year to a couple of good programs if this year you've been accepted to a program of the caliber of Columbia or Sarah Lawrence. (Of course, provided you apply to several programs. And provided you don't have geographical constraints. If you tell me you don't want/cannot apply to places outside NYC, the whole picture changes, and then the "bird in hand" thing carries much more weight).

But anyway, just wanted to say I enjoyed your post, and your determination. Let me know how things go at Sarah Lawrence. Do they hold open workshops/conferences -- something like Bread Loaf, for instance?


LaurenAnne


Mar 22, 2006, 1:15 PM

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Re: [gussy] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

I kind of love our little disagreement too: "I see your point!" "I see yours too!"
Anyway, i do have geographical constraints. I already live in NYC and I'm pretty determined to stay, for work reasons as much as anything else. if I didn't, I think I'd be with you all the way.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 22, 2006, 11:33 PM

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Re: [vitadimanche] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

Why would you be crazy to go there?

Columbia has produced many, many successful writers. The funding situation is shitty, but Columbia is certainly right up there as far as faculty, reputation and track record goes.

(NOTE: I say this as someone who got accepted to Columbia this year and will probably go there...)


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Mar 22, 2006, 11:42 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 22, 2006, 11:41 PM

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Re: [gussy] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post


Quote
But, as random as this hideous application process is, I think it's very unlikely that you won't be accepted next year to a couple of good programs if this year you've been accepted to a program of the caliber of Columbia or Sarah Lawrence.


I'm not sure I'd go that far. This is saying nothing about LA, whose work I obviously don't know, but we all know what a crapshoot this is (and writing is in general) and it isn't that unlikely someone who got into SL or Columbia one year wouldn't get in anywhere (much less "a couple") the next.

I got into Columbia this year and apparently was offered their highest fellowship. Yet I haven't even gotten waitlisted anywhere else yet...

The anecdote I always remember was in undergrad reading Best American Short Stories for class and one of the stories, which I think had been published in Tin House finally, was noted by the author as having been rejected 30 times before being accepted somewhere... You never know.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Mar 22, 2006, 11:45 PM)


brooklynpoet


Mar 23, 2006, 1:45 PM

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Re: [gussy] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

I'm just going to add my little mite to this discussion, because I do live in New York--and am seriously considering staying here (City College, which no one but me seems to have applied to!) and I chose not to apply to Columbia because of the financial situation.

I've met a fiction writer who's currently finishing his thesis, and two of my "mentors" are graduates of the poetry program, albeit almost 20 years ago. The fiction writer said he went to Columbia because it was the only program that accepted him. He has a 1 1/2 year old kid and he's finding it hard to make ends meet, post-graduation. He was ambivalent about the program, but stressed how competitive it is.

Someone else I know was an MFA grad student at Columbia while I was an undergrad there. Actually, he was my TA for the mandatory composition course. He's now a working (substantially published) poet and the director of an undergraduate cw program, and he also teaches in a low-res MFA program. He said he has "fond memories" of his time at Columbia. He did not stay in NYC.

The third person is another "mentor" who graduated from the poetry program in the early nineties and is now a K-12 teacher in NYC. Her advice is not to go to grad school in NYC altogether, mostly for financial reasons but also because it's difficult to find the quiet and time to focus on writing. Of course, that has to do with financial issues too. I believe she feels that her debt has made it more difficult for her to get her first book out. I'm making some assumptions based on just a couple of conversations, but I believe her feeling is that it's easier to go to school elsewhere and move to NYC afterward, if that's where you're excited about being.

Personally--and of course, all of this info is filtered through my personal situation--I also think Columbia might be more appealing to younger students, in their early-to-mid twenties. There's so much more time after graduation to pay back those hefty loans. I'm way too rapidly heading into my late thirties, and having accumulated grad school debt previously and worked in (oh-so-underpaid) publishing for ten years, there's no way I could pay $70k in tuition alone, plus the 20k you need for living expenses just to survive around here. At my rate of interest, which is high, $70k in loans amounts to $550 per month in payments after graduation. I couldn't afford the payments even when I was working full time; doubling the capital would be insane.

But hey, that's just me. I think it's great to go to a program you're excited about and not be so afraid of the future that you let *projected* financial constraints make the decision for you. And I couldn't have a warmer feeling toward Columbia generally, so I definitely understand the appeal. I think in all cases, it's best just to know yourself and what will inspire and free you vs. what will weigh you down with anxiety. Anyway, best of luck to all considering and/or going to Columbia, and if you hear anything about City College--where the tuition is $8500 per year, by the way--do let me know!

brooklynpoet


sara9870


Mar 23, 2006, 2:29 PM

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Re: [brooklynpoet] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

Hello- Just thought I'd add some things and ask some things-
Concerning Columbia- I know a few people that graduated last year in fiction and poetry. one was independently wealthy- so of course, in that case, its no problem. The other 2 (fiction) said if they could do it over, they would've gone to brooklyn or hunter. The access to the "famous" teachers is nonexistant and they said you could get a comprable education/time and access to agents and such at a CUNY school.
i applied to 10 schools, personally, and have only got into a school very far away. I saw that the city college deadline is May 1st. Is that correct? I'm actually going to be there next week for a conference and figured i'd go talk to someone. I want to stay in nyc for many reasons- family, friends, live with my boyfriend, job and I find it hard to be away from NYC for extended amounts of time (i grew up here) People tell me to get out and get away from everything for awhile but that might be too hard, and actually have an adverse effect on my writing. So I was thinking of applying to City College too.
Still havent heard from columbia, nyu or new school yet, and I was rejected from Brooklyn. Haven't heard anything from Hunter, but I assume a rejection there too.


Aubrie


Mar 23, 2006, 2:32 PM

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Re: [sara9870] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

Sara - I wouldn't lose hope on Hunter or New School just yet. I received my rejections a good long time ago, and since we're both in NYC, maybe that means good news on your part?
Give them a call!


Aubrie


Mar 23, 2006, 2:43 PM

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Re: [brooklynpoet] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

Brooklynpoet - What do you know about City College? I found their website to be painfully useless. Faculty? Class organization? Workshop sizes? I wouldn't have ruled it out except for the fact that I really couldn't make any sort of decision as to what the program offered. Is it one year? Two years? Argh. And it's an MA, right?


(This post was edited by Aubrie on Mar 23, 2006, 3:11 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 23, 2006, 3:06 PM

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Re: [Aubrie] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

As long as we are throwing out anecdotes about Columbia grads, let me say that every Columbia grad (which is only a few) was extremely fond of the program, acting like it was the best possible.

Of course, the grads I've met are all pretty successful writers, so they don't have to be bitter about "wasting" money just to get an MFA.


gussy


Mar 23, 2006, 4:02 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

You're right, Clench: I may have overstated the point. However, I still think the overall suggestion I gave is sound (which seems to coincide with brooklynpoet's: basically, you are the best judge to decide whether you can put up with the debt or not). And I still think there is some reason to be optimistic about a second round of applications if on the first one you've been accepted by SLC and/or Columbia. I mean, that certainly is a sign that your writing is pretty good, and chances are your writing will improve in the year that you have to wait till you apply again. But again, you're right, I overstated it by saying it's "highly unlikely" that you'll be rejected. Thanks for the qualification.


ciaosamin


Mar 23, 2006, 11:31 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia-Poetry Can't Post

i have to say, i agree with clench on this one. i was accepted at sarah lawrence on my last round, and this time, i haven't been accepted anywhere.


Aubrie


Mar 28, 2006, 6:40 PM

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Fleeting Hope Can't Post

I emailed Columbia asking them to keep my info. on file for re-application next year (after sticking in something along the lines of "as I assume all accepted and waitlisted applicants have been notified) and the sec. emailed me back about the info and then added:
"That said, notifications are just being sent out now."
So.... perhaps some of us might be waitlisted?
Maybe?!
Or I could just get a rejection and put all this nonsense behind me already. Back to checking the mailbox!


Kcchen


Mar 28, 2006, 6:47 PM

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Re: [Aubrie] Fleeting Hope Can't Post

i called columbia today. rejections AND waitlists were sent out last week and this week. crap.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 21, 2006, 11:37 PM

Post #34 of 430 (7877 views)
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Columbia Can't Post

Did anyone go to the Columbia accepted student open house?
I went yesterday and found it assuaged my concerns... as well as confirmed my fears.
Which is to say, I feel pretty confident its the best program out there as a program on almost every level but I also know the funding situation is even worse than I thought.

But man... it seems so perfect on every other level: Location, faculty (most good programs have talented faculty, but only a handful have faculty that actually make get me excited), alumni success, structure (I like how its in the school of the arts instead of the english department and I like the thesis workshop requirement) and connections (visting teachers/agents/speakers, NYC magazines recruiting students for intenrs, etc.)

What an annoying position to have money stain this...

Well, anyone else visit and have a reaction?


sarandipidy


Apr 23, 2006, 10:35 AM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post


In Reply To
Did anyone go to the Columbia accepted student open house?
I went yesterday and found it assuaged my concerns... as well as confirmed my fears.
Which is to say, I feel pretty confident its the best program out there as a program on almost every level but I also know the funding situation is even worse than I thought.

But man... it seems so perfect on every other level: Location, faculty (most good programs have talented faculty, but only a handful have faculty that actually make get me excited), alumni success, structure (I like how its in the school of the arts instead of the english department and I like the thesis workshop requirement) and connections (visting teachers/agents/speakers, NYC magazines recruiting students for intenrs, etc.)

What an annoying position to have money stain this...

Well, anyone else visit and have a reaction?


Clench, here is my two cents. I know someone who went there and regretted it. He didn't like the program and regrets taking out those loans to pay for it. And my professors both warned me about money and competitiveness when I was thinking of applying there.

But if it's the perfect program for you, you don't have any other good option for you with better funding, and you don't have many undergrad loans out right now, then maybe you should just go. Look for outside scholarships for the first year and hopefully you'll get some kind of work for the second and third. I don't know your monetary situation, but I would need a job even to pay Brooklyn rent. Maybe you have some savings to help you through rent/utilities/food? It would suck if your job took up valuable writing (and academic working) time. But this is something that can be worked out if you plan it right. Apply for financial aid as well as outside scholarships and see what they give you, maybe it will be enough! Did you already apply for aid and get stiffed, or have you just not found out your award yet? It could be very good.

I guess you have to decide if even the best possible experience at Columbia's program for three years outweighs the worst possible experience years later when you're paying the debt back. Maybe think in terms of these hyperbolic scenarios to help you decide: Columbia ends up being amazing for you, but some of those years later end up being miserable. Debt can be like thick muck under your feet. If it seems worth the risk of a worse possible scenario for a best possible scenario, then go for it. I personally have some loans from undergrad but not so much that they'll kill me later. I thought going here would be worth it for various reasons (boyfriend, gorges, town, classes, friends), and I still think it was. But 60,000+ could be a very different story. Good luck.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 23, 2006, 12:17 PM

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Re: [sarandipidy] Columbia Can't Post

Thanks for your thoughts sarandipity.
I'm surprised to hear you say your professors talk of competitiveness. I've talked to a couple students, including a few that were quite candid about the downsides of the program, and all of them said there was no competitiveness.

I guess frankly, and sadly, there isn't anything to compete over. The merit fellowships only go up to 15,000 tops and I think everyone gets at least 5,000. The TAships are very few and aren't done through the writing program at all or based on your writing skills in the least. So I feel pretty good there isn't any competitiveness in the program... or rather, the copetitiveness that exists there is the same that would exist anywhere else.

I haven't applied for aid yet (since I'm either going to Columbia or not going this year) but I doubt I'll get much as I have a bit of money I inherited that's in my name in some kind of plan that can only be used for education. Which of course means on the bright side I have inherited money I can only use for education still left from undergrad.
I think at a worst case scenario, with no other scholarships, no TAships/RAships or other Columbia funding and everything... I'm looking at 25,000 debt. Obviously I could offset that through having a part time job or working a ton through the summers. So my worst case scenario isn't that horrible (though certainly worse than worst case being 0 dollars debt going somewhere else.) Best case scenario, which isn't that improbable, would be no debt (though my savings would be eaten away surely).

I've met a lot of writers in the real world who were Columbia grads and all have been very fond of the program. I kind of whish I'd met some disgrunteled grads to have a more balanced view, but everyone's always loved it and said the money was worth it.

The complication for me is that, due to various reasons (friends, location, etc.) there are really only a handful of programs with full funding I'd take over the Columbia deal I have. UVA, JHU, NYU as one of the few free rides... maybe one or two more. So it would be a gamble.

But yeah, I'm just thinking out loud here and thanks for letting me.


Guess I still have to sit and wait and hear from the last school still considering my application (?!).


sarandipidy


Apr 23, 2006, 12:47 PM

Post #37 of 430 (7809 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

Hmm. 25,000 is a fair amount, but nothing like what some people who go there have to incur. 40,000+ is way too much for an MFA, but 20,000 or so shouldn't make you miserable later if you plan well. And it's not like you have another free ride option that you'd be sacrificing to go there (for example, that one poster had an FSU offer that far surpassed Columbia's if I recall correctly). If you really want it, I say go for it. It sucks to have to pay so much, but I think that's a doable amount of money, and what else is your inheritance for but education? If you wait til next year who knows what will happen in this crapshoot process (fiction especially)--you could get a free ride at JHU or you could be unlucky everywhere.

And when I said competitiveness I think I was interchanging Iowa and Columbia, since the financial situation there is kind of similar (about 20 per genre incoming class and not enough money to go around). Thinking back all those months ago, one told me Iowa had an uncomfortably competitive environment based on a few of her friends' experiences in poetry, not fiction. The other one advised me against Columbia for financial and some other reasons. It's good to know that the students said Columbia isn't too competitive. I guess the reason why isn't so great (no money, LOL) but at least you won't have to worry about crazy competition for funding. Should be much more relaxed.

I mean, I don't want to be the lone voice here; you will find lots of people (professors, writers, etc.) who say that paying pretty much anything for an MFA is a bad idea. But I know what kind of position you're in, and I know that if I were in it (really felt the program was a good fit for me and didn't have a better offer anywhere else that I also liked), I would most likely take out the 20,000 or so in loans. This choice goes against some of my better judgment, but I bet I would.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 24, 2006, 1:03 AM

Post #38 of 430 (7751 views)
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Re: [sarandipidy] Columbia Can't Post

Sarandipity:

Actually, this forum is more like the lone voice telling me not to go. Everyone else I've met has said go for it (though most are people who don't know anything about MFAs), so I appreciate hearing the other side. 25,000 is definitely a fair amount, but keep in mind that is both the worst case scenario and includes my total living expenses. I imagine a lot of the better funded programs would still require me to spend a fair amount on living.

As for competitiveness, at the Columbia student open house the faculty made a few specific comments to the extent of "we don't have the competitive atmosphere due to tiered funding like a certain program in the mid-west."

I also really want to live in NYC for various reasons and barring being one of a like 2 people to get a full NYU ride, all the good NYC and surrounding area programs are expensive as hell.

Oh well.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Apr 24, 2006, 10:21 AM

Post #39 of 430 (7721 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

Ben Marcus -- who heads up the fiction side at Columbia -- seems like a really nice guy, and a generous teacher (he interviewed last spring for the director's job at Iowa, which involved doing a special workshop and giving a craft talk and answering some questions). I didn't apply to Columbia, because I couldn't have afforded it. I also assumed, because of the cost, that it would be the grad school for the independently wealthy or those whose parents were footing the bill. Maybe that's not true, and people are in fact just taking out loans and working while in school. But I couldn't imagine trying to pay that tuition while also paying to live in NYC -- thinking about it made my head hurt. It really is a shame, too, that Columbia doesn't come up with more money for its writing program -- it's not like the school doesn't have the cash. And can you imagine how excited people would be about a program that actually funded writers to live in NYC for 2-3 years? When Marcus was here, he said they lose out on some great writers every year because of the funding thing; he said something to the effect of "I can't in good conscience try to talk people into accepting that offer if they can't really afford it." I think if they came up with the money to fully fund people, they'd be the top MFA program in the country, or at least near the top. But I guess if people are willing to pay, it might be hard convincing the administration to change course.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 24, 2006, 12:28 PM

Post #40 of 430 (7699 views)
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Re: [mingram] Columbia Can't Post

Yes, Ben Marcus seems very nice and also candid about the downside (which is really only funding) of Columbia.


Quote
I also assumed, because of the cost, that it would be the grad school for the independently wealthy or those whose parents were footing the bill. Maybe that's not true, and people are in fact just taking out loans and working while in school.


It seemed like most everyone I talked to was taking out some loans. I didn't get too specific asking people's finances, but I imagine most at least get some help from family if they are young, but most were still paying a lot themselves.

One thing I'd say though is that Columbia isn't "the" program for this or that because it isn't unique in this regard. I'm not sure if you meant that, but I've seen a few people say things like "Why is Columbia the only program that charges you so much!?" which isn't true. Sarah Lawarence has equally bad funding, NYU costs as much if you aren't one of the few people getting good funding, New School costs about the same I think and I'm sure there are many others.

I feel a little defensive about Columbia since it looks like I'm going there, but even before I got any acceptances or rejections from schools I thought of Columbia as easily one of the top five programs... pretty much in its own league with Iowa and UCI and, not considering funding, it beats those two programs for me just on faculty and location.

If they fully funded everyone they'd probably be number 1 no question.... but I'm not sure how much I believe funding should be taken into consideration when ranking schools. I totally agree funding is an important issue, and I'm glad Tom Kealey gave people a good idea which programs fund which way, but ranking based on that seems odd. We dont' rank undergrad based on cost, or only public schools would get high rankings and any large program is going to have tiered funding, which complicates the rankings even from what TK is trying to do. Would anyone seriously think going to NYU (A TK top 20) with no funding would be better than Columbia with no funding? I don't think so.

When trying to objectively rank programs, I think funding should only be considered to the degree that tiered funding might have a negative influence and to the degree that the peer group might suffer from good writers going elsewhere.


dlil27


Apr 24, 2006, 5:35 PM

Post #41 of 430 (7649 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

Hey Clench,

There's no way in heaven or hell I could afford Columbia unless I went into even deeper debt (I have about 35K from undergrad). I do have a rich uncle, literally, but just thinkin' about asking for that kind of cash makes me sick. Even if he offered it to me, I'd be nauseous. Even if my parents had the money and offered it to me...anyway...god damn it if I don't love Sam Lipsyte. Everyone goes on and on about Marcus, but Lipsyte's my man.
I don't know if I'd call Comlumbia the best out there even with full funding because I'm not sure about their actual program. On their web site they list the requirements for graduation as:
  • two 6-pt workshops; one 9-pt thesis workshop; poets must take an additional 6-pt workshop (optional for fiction and nonfiction)
  • seven 3-pt seminars, lectures and/or master classes (any combination of theses three types of classes) including (for nonfiction students) the required Research Seminar (which may be waived by concentration director), and (for poetry students) the required Practice of Poetry seminar
  • 12-18 points of electives including independent study (but no more than 6 pts at 3000 level). Generally, two courses outside of the Division are required; a waiver for one of the two courses may be granted by the Chair

Only 2 workshops over three years?!
My actual question for you is...at the open house did they explain the reason for 2 workshops? I thought the electives would be great if you could take some screenwriting classes, but the film school's web site says that screenwriting classes are restricted to MFA's in film -- and besides, I think they're all part of the same division.
I'm not the biggest fan of NYU either, but if I got full funding...
Here's their program:
  • Satisfactory completion of 32 credits, including four workshops (16 credits) in fiction or poetry, at least one Craft of Fiction or Craft of Poetry course (4 credits), and the remaining 12 credits from any school or department within the University (these may be replaced by additional Craft classes)
  • A creative thesis in either fiction or poetry

At least at NYU you get to take 4 workshops - and they have the Tisch School School of the Arts and I could take some screenwriting or playwriting classes in that program to use up some electives. There really aren't too many film writing programs that can top Tisch. I'm a fiction writer, but I like drama as well.

Anyway...what did Columbia say about the program requirements? That's a big issue with me. One of the biggest reasons I'll be applying to MFA programs is to get and give feedback. I think CU has some outstanding craft course offerings and, of course, Sam Lipsyte, but I'm not sure how much actual writing I'd be doing there or whether I'd ever see Lipsyte in person.

I dig on some NYC too. Let’s face it though; NYU is in the hipper park of the city...also more expensive. AND...I'm not looking to pick a fight - neither of these schools are on my list of schools to apply to (and I have more than a bakers dozen on it already).
However...I can't get CU off my mind, even with its grotesque lack of funding and workshopping (two of my biggest priorities - yes, I do think funding is a big deal when you already have a lot of debt and no outside help).

Respectfully...


(This post was edited by dlil27 on Apr 24, 2006, 5:43 PM)


mingram
Mike Ingram

Apr 24, 2006, 7:55 PM

Post #42 of 430 (7620 views)
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Re: [dlil27] Columbia Can't Post

This could very well be sour grapes, at least in part, and the guy's definitely got an axe to grind. So it should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

http://www.columbiaspectator.com/.../04/24/444c65f6e911d

As far as his criticism of academic standards -- definitely the same could be said about Iowa (in that no one really fails here -- I think the program's attitude is that getting in is the hard part; after that, they just want to give you time to work, and the benefit of workshops). I like that kind of setup, and would absolutely hate a program that was more PhDish -- i.e., lots of lit classes and critical papers. So I disagree with him on that point because I like the idea of an MFA as basically a studio degree, with lots of freedom and flexibility.

I do think he raises some interesting points about the cost of the Columbia program and lack of funding. I guess that's what sticks in my craw about Columbia, and other schools that don't offer funding -- to me, the idea of funding is that you're saying to artists: We take you seriously, and we think you deserve some unencumbered time in which to pursue your art. Whereas programs that don't offer much in the way of funding seem to be saying: We think you're talented, and if you give us $40,000 a year (or whatever tuition is) we'll let you hang out and work on your art. That's a pretty different ball of wax.


bighark


Apr 24, 2006, 10:35 PM

Post #43 of 430 (7592 views)
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Re: [mingram] Columbia Can't Post

I think Columbia is a fine program, but the fact that it costs so damn much to go there is really disturbing.

Columbia has 140 writers in their program during any given year. If they charge an average of $25,000 per student (full tuition is $35K), then they're making three and a half million dollars a year from their creative writing students. That's a hell of a lot of revenue.

I mean, if you look at Columbia (or NYU or New School or Sarah Lawrence) and compare it to a a place like Washington University in St. Louis (or Notre Dame or Brown or Cornell), you really have to ask WTF?

WUSTL remits its $31,000 tuition and gives students a salary of $16,000 a year. That's a $47,000 a year statement per student per year.

When people start ranking programs, it's impossible to ignore numbers like that. You can pay one school $50,000 (plus whatever you have to pay for your living expenses in the most expensive city in North America) for a two-year MFA or pay zero dollars to another school that will give you $32,000 over two years for your trouble.

Frankly, I don't see how Columbia continues to attract applications.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 24, 2006, 10:55 PM

Post #44 of 430 (7578 views)
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Re: [dlil27] Columbia Can't Post

dlil27:

Hey, I like Sam Lipsyte too. In fact, Lipsyte and Marcus are the two Columbia people who got in touch with me. Smart move for Columbia, makes me want to go there.


Quote

My actual question for you is...at the open house did they explain the reason for 2 workshops?


I'm a little confused by what you posted. At the open house, the impression I got was that there was 1 workshop a semester. So four total. Maybe 3 total, plus the thesis workshop (which is a great idea in my mind). They definitily said you were taking 1 workshop a semester, so I'm not sure why the website says 2 is the requirement. odd.


Quote
thought the electives would be great if you could take some screenwriting classes, but the film school's web site says that screenwriting classes are restricted to MFA's in film -- and besides, I think they're all part of the same division.


My understandig is that WORKSHOPS are restricted to people in the genre, but everything else (lectures, seminars, etc.) can be taken from elsewhere. But i'm not 100% positive about film classes, as that isn't a part of the writing program, I guess.


Quote
of course, Sam Lipsyte, but I'm not sure how much actual writing I'd be doing there or whether I'd ever see Lipsyte in person.


Well, again, my understanding was one workshop a semester. More specifically, I heard the classes are a good size (8-12 people) and you turn in 3-5 times a semester depending on class size. So apparently you write a lot. As for Lipsyte, I know he teaches some workshops although I also know he works for Columbia's undergraduate program as well.


Quote
Let’s face it though; NYU is in the hipper park of the city...also more expensive.


Hipper? Maybe, although uptown seems like the next hip part. NYU is spread out though. I dunno where the writing division is, but my friend is going to grad school there this fall for art history and her program is up in the upper east side.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 24, 2006, 11:06 PM

Post #45 of 430 (7576 views)
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Re: [mingram] Columbia Can't Post

minigram:

yeah, I read that today. A shitty day for that to come out for me, just when I was set to accept Columbia. Although, the more I thought about the piece the less it concerned me. For one, the anger in the piece is obvious so it does seem like a bit of sour grapes. However, I'm willing to accept most of what he says is true.

Still, there are three main complaints raised:

a) There are a lot of medicore students and they all pass
b) they are milking their students as cash cows
c) They higher a lot of bad faculty.

As for a), everything I've ever heard has made me confident that EVERY MFA program everywhere has a lot of mediocre students. I expect this going in. I'd expect htis at Iowa, JHU, Columbia just as I'd expect it at Random State U. I'd except a bit LESS of it at Iowa, JHU and Columbia, but I'd still expect it. Columbia is a very selective school so I see no reason to assume their % of medicore students is different than any other big school

As for all them passing... I'm not sure what to think of that. It doesn't seem like an issue for a prospective student (what do I care if medicore writers graduate? Do I want them to fail?) it seems like more of an issue for Columbia's administration.
But, like my last paragraph, I expect pretty much everyone passes everywhere. I doubt many Iowa or Umass students (to name two more big programs) fail either, for good or for bad

b): This is definitly a big problem. However, this is a problem I (and everyone here at speakeasy I think) was already aware of.

c) I'm not sure what to make of this unless I saw a comparison with other big programs that hire lots of people. I can't say if Mark was right or wrong, but I Can say that Columbia is one of a handful of schools that has exciting faculty to me. Most have competant faculty, but Columbia actually has writers that make me excited. THye might have a lot of shitty ones too... guess I have to just hope to avoid them though. But at the end of the day, there isn't a single program out there that has a facualty that is 100% exciting.


Quote
I guess that's what sticks in my craw about Columbia, and other schools that don't offer funding -- to me, the idea of funding is that you're saying to artists: We take you seriously, and we think you deserve some unencumbered time in which to pursue your art. Whereas programs that don't offer much in the way of funding seem to be saying: We think you're talented, and if you give us $40,000 a year (or whatever tuition is) we'll let you hang out and work on your art. That's a pretty different ball of wax.


I see what you are saying. However, I look at it this way:
No program can give all its students free rides. No university president would allow that. The only ones that give some free rides have tiered funding, which is problamatic for a lot of reasons.

So how do students get full fudning? Universities make them work. They make them teach classes (to undergrads who are paying 40,000). Now, there is nothing wrong with this, and I like the idea a LOT and I surely wish Columbia had more TA positions. But at the end of the day, the difference between Columbia and JHU or whatever is that Columbia can't give TAships to all its students while JHU can.

There are some reasons for this (The Writing Division is all grad, not directly connected to any undegrad thing, so the TA positions it gets are leftovers from the english department after they giver their Phd people spots)... though it doesn't fully excuse Columbia.


__________



Apr 24, 2006, 11:06 PM

Post #46 of 430 (7577 views)
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my big big idea Can't Post

You mean they don't even offer a full waiver to a select few?... Oh well. Perhaps everyone who applied sans trust fund should just get together and start their own MFA program.

Think about it: the talent pool would be the same, and it could be done for a fraction of the cost. A big wooden table isn't expensive; the atmosphere would be supportive; and we know esteemed visiting writers like Denis Johnson or Ben Marcus can be had for less than $75K. There'd even be scads of dough left for your own lit journal. And everybody knows, once you own or edit a journal, your own publications miraculously increase.

Who's with me?


six five four three two one 0 ->


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 24, 2006, 11:10 PM

Post #47 of 430 (7568 views)
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Re: [bighark] Columbia Can't Post


Quote

When people start ranking programs, it's impossible to ignore numbers like that. You can pay one school $50,000 (plus whatever you have to pay for your living expenses in the most expensive city in North America) for a two-year MFA or pay zero dollars to another school that will give you $32,000 over two years for your trouble.


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.


lauraliziegler


Apr 25, 2006, 12:37 AM

Post #48 of 430 (7549 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

Hmmm... a quick google search reveals that Columbia's endowments for 2005 were 2.5 BILLION dollars, or about $218,000 per student. I can't help but wonder why their funding is so nonexistent. Seems rotten.

While $25,000 is a lot of money, it's about what most of us who are going to have to do a low-res. program will have to spend.

At any rate, congratulations, Clench Million! It sounds like you have your heart set on Columbia, so it's wonderful that you were accepted. Good luck!


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 25, 2006, 12:51 AM

Post #49 of 430 (7542 views)
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Re: [lauraliziegler] Columbia Can't Post

Laura:

I agree it is rotten. No doubt. But I'm fairly confident, from what I've learned, that it is rotten outside of the Writing Division. Those professors would like nothing more than tofully fund everyone, but they can't due to upper bueracracy.

I don't think I'd say I have my heart set on Columbia. But Columbia was one of maybe 5 schools I was set on (those maybe being Iowa, UVA, JHU, Columbia and maybe Syracuse) but thank you.

25,000 is a lot of money. Too much, really. But again, this is my worst case scenario. Luckily, I could come out with zero debt if things go well.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 25, 2006, 12:54 AM

Post #50 of 430 (7540 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] my big big idea Can't Post

I'm torn on the issue of tiered funding. It would be nice for Columbia (or whoever) to offer full funding to at least a few students, but at the same time... I have to agree with Tom Kealey that such a structure probably creates a very competitice and antagonistic student body.

Essentially, tiered funding is great if you happen to be the one who gets a lot, if not, it sucks.


HopperFu


Apr 25, 2006, 8:38 AM

Post #51 of 430 (7858 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 (7858 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 (7855 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 (7852 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

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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

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post


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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

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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 (7817 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

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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

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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 (7799 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

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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

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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 (7708 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

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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 (7687 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

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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

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Re: [sarandipidy] Columbia Can't Post


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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

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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

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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 (7530 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

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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

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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

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Re: [Dewey] Columbia Can't Post


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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

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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.


rooblue


Apr 26, 2006, 10:54 PM

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Re: [littlecities] Columbia Can't Post

I must say I find this rather dispiriting. I am not familiar with these two writers, but I know a number of writers with substantial publishing credits who teach comp at community colleges because that's what is available. Meanwhile positions in the Columbia MFA program are held by non-writers. Doesn't Columbia also have Ben Marcus, whose tastes are so rarified he doesn't even like Jonathan Franzen? So Franzen isn't worthy of consideration, but these no-names are? Maybe I'm missing something?


__________



Apr 27, 2006, 1:05 AM

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Re: [rooblue] Columbia Can't Post

Marcus just thinks Franzen is a boob...because Franzen is obsessed with popularity and making money--while also being obsessed about not appearing to have too big of an interest in those things. Franzen also has some wacky ideas about who reads in America, and is generally misinformed and condescending.

Marcus is probably also jealous of his success.

I don't think any of it really has to do with the style or talent of either.


six five four three two one 0 ->


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 27, 2006, 2:24 AM

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Quote
Maybe I'm missing something?


Well, here is the little that I know.
- Mark Slouka, the guy who wrote the article was given tenure at every level but then was denied at the top beurocracy. Which is to say, everone at the writing division and school of the arts wanted him, but the upper administration denied him.
- Ben Marcus used to just be a professor and is now a ficiton director, but he isn't he chair and isn't in charge of hiring, so whether he personally likes Franzen or not doesn't have much to do, I don't think, with whether Franzen would get hired over unqualified adjuncts.
- I can't pretend to know about Columbia's hiring and firing practices, but just looking at their website its clear all the full-time faculty members (at least) have solid publication and award records. Maybe Slouka was talking about adjunct non-writers? I dunno, but a quick glance on the Columbia website under adjunct faculty shows most of them with several books out.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 27, 2006, 2:38 AM

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Re: [littlecities] Columbia Can't Post

littlecities:
Sorry to hear about your bad undergrad experience. But just for the general record, neither Rapheal or Rose are listed as full-time or adjunct faculty in Columbia's MFA program. Currently at least. From my understanding, the undergrad creative writing courses (there isn't a major I don't think, right?) is quite seperate from the School of the Arts and the Writing Division.

Dewey:

Yes, it certainly does seem like a love it/hate it place.
As I've said before on this board, everyone I've met in real life who was a Columbia grad loved the program and talked fondly of it. Slouka and Sullivan are the first first hand accounts of people who disliked Columbia (although Slouka was a teacher, not a studnet) I've seen. Not that I"m saying they are the only ones, just saying most people I've talked to love it.

One thing I found odd in Sullivan's blog is she ends it saying something like "sometimes I wish I'd gone to the New School and not had all this debt." Just found it odd since a) I thought the new School cost just as much and had just as bad funding and b) if she hated her columbia experience so much, why would it be a "sometimes" thought? Wouldn't she always be wishing she went elsewhere?


Dewey


Apr 27, 2006, 10:04 AM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post


In Reply To

One thing I found odd in Sullivan's blog is she ends it saying something like "sometimes I wish I'd gone to the New School and not had all this debt." Just found it odd since a) I thought the new School cost just as much and had just as bad funding and b) if she hated her columbia experience so much, why would it be a "sometimes" thought? Wouldn't she always be wishing she went elsewhere?


Clench,
I was wondering about that too. I just thought that it couldn't have been all that bad. And...I'm real big on getting the whole story and certainly that usually includes both sides of it. Don't believe that I'm saying I don't believe what she's saying...I don't know Sullivan...so...anyway. I get the sense from her "cocaine 'problem'" parenthetical that she's had that misrepresentation thing happen to her. And that's very damaging. However...
How is it that she "sometimes" wishes she had gone to NS, yet she can put six Profs under the category of "positive highlights" to her time at Columbia? And two of classes taken with two of those insturctors were workshops. Personally, I don't expect to like every prof or enjoy each workshop. Personally, I'd be happy with a 50% ratio of enjoyment. She lists nine friends she made there and other people she probably forgot. I don't know, I haven't even applied to any MFA yet, so I don't know how many friends made in a program is average, but that seems pretty fair. Even for a large program, which are probably more likely to form cliques (generalization). Anyway...it doesn't seem like a vast wasteland that she stepped into at Columbia. And as I noted above - I'm impressed by how someone who's unhappy with a program finds so many things to be happy with.
I can certainly understand being angry at a Prof who talks behind your back or to your face in the presence of others about personal issues. In fact, maybe that's why the admin hates her - because the rumor mill was spinnin' full speed with her in it. I have no clue. Maybe she's implying that in her context. As Sarandipity rightly pointed out, I missed the context of her "Agents? Editors? Authors? I met these fine people and friends MYSELF" statement, so I could be missing something else.
I still stand by what I said in that earlier post about other people's experiences - that was my point really, my point wasn't to slam on Sullivan - you really don't know for sure until you've had your own experience how the MFA experience (at any school) will be for you. You've heard that argument of "I know how you feel" responded to with "No you don't, you never been through this." Well, even if you've been through it, you may react differently. And I stand by my earlier statement about attitude - you'll probably get out of Columbia what you put into it. And I stand by what I said about your, Clench, personal attitude towards Columbia. It seems very positive. And that's what you want to do - go in high about a program, not full of doubt based on other people's opinions or experiences. I don't know Sullivan or Slouka or you, but I'd bet that all your personalities are different and that you'd all react differently to the same stimuli...anyway...whatever. It seems like you'll get on well at Columbia is all I'm saying.
I probably wouldn't. But I've already made my financial situation clear. And how I'm only applying to schools that can (and will) fund me. But I'm not you. Neither is anybody else. So, you're the one who's going, so you're the one who's feelings about the program you should worry about. It's good to stay informed and get a consensus about potential poison in a program, but it seems like you've met enough people who are happy enough with the school that you can give it a go in good conscience.
Good luck to you!


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 28, 2006, 2:33 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

http://www.columbiaspectator.com/.../04/28/4451c71991adc

"Defending the Writing Program", a response in the Columbia Spectator to Mark Slouka's piece a few days ago.


Clench Million
Charles

May 12, 2006, 2:04 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

Ben Marcus was named new head of the writing division. Yay!


sanssoleil
Chris

May 13, 2006, 10:59 AM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

His stock sure has risen these last couple of years. Marcus is already one of the most imitated writers around...curious to see if this amplifies the trend. I'd say Columbia just moved up a few slots in my convoluted "ranking" system.


__________



May 13, 2006, 12:49 PM

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Re: [sanssoleil] Columbia Can't Post

Interesting. So who do you consider to be a Marcus imitator? I can only think of Mathew Derby, who also went to Brown--his work is similar, but I wouldn't call him an imitator, really.


six five four three two one 0 ->


sanssoleil
Chris

May 13, 2006, 3:20 PM

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Re: [Junior Maas] Columbia Can't Post

Matthew Derby and ShelleyJackson (certain stories) come to mind, though as you point out, they both attended Brown with Marcus (I think--so maybe it's all Coover's fault)...so who's to say who's imitating whom. But I check out 5_trope and Conjunctions and other supposedly avant-something journals now and again, and I notice a lot of Marcus-esque language-fantasy...although maybe Marcus simply inspires people to read Barthelme, since that's the guy who taught Marcus all of his tricks anyway. I also notice a Marcus-aping trend in a lot of fiction by people who no one here would know about--friends, aspiring writers, internet correspondents, etc. The problem is that the style is so seductive and also so easy to imitate.


harvardmfa


Dec 13, 2006, 7:07 PM

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When does Columbia notify its applicants? Can't Post

Any idea when Columbia notifies its applicants about acceptance/rejection?


Clench Million
Charles

Dec 15, 2006, 3:08 AM

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Re: [harvardmfa] When does Columbia notify its applicants? Can't Post

I was notified at the very end of Feb. The rejectios I think came later and in waves, though I'm not positive.


Aubrie


Dec 20, 2006, 11:51 AM

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Literary Reponse? Can't Post

How is everyone handling the Literary Response part of the Columbia app? I kind of take it to be a "workshopping" of sorts on a recently published book in your genre. Am I wrong in thinking this?

Any current applicants (or even current students... ahem...cough cough Clench?) that could offer some insight?


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Dec 22, 2006, 1:23 PM

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In the Mail! Can't Post

Columbia is in the mail! Good luck to all who have applied, and also to those still finishing up their applications with celerity. And here's to hoping I'm one of the top eighty! ha. Man I need a drink...

Does anyone else drop their application in the mail and immediately have a strong sense of malaise?


(This post was edited by jobieh on Dec 22, 2006, 1:24 PM)


harvardmfa


Dec 22, 2006, 8:25 PM

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Re: [Aubrie] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

I'd be interested in an answer to this question as well.

Aubrie, I sent in all of my application, except the Literary Response, which I'm still working on at the moment. I'm writing about Mary Gaitskill's Veronica. It was a lot harder than I thought to find something written and published in the last 10 years that I wanted to write about for this essay. What did you end up writing about?

Good luck!


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Dec 23, 2006, 8:38 AM

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Re: [harvardmfa] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Hi Harvard. I think Veronica is a good book to do your literary response on, and there is plenty to write about on it. I wrote mine on Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. It's probably a more popular book than what most will write on but it was beautifully written and far more literary than I anticipated going in. I wrote about what made it so good, where it struggled, where it might have been improved. I did a short paragraph synopsis. And I also talked about the hype of this book and how Ms. Setterfield was compared to Dickens and the Brontes before it was even published. We'll see. Going to be a long two or three months...


(This post was edited by jobieh on Dec 23, 2006, 8:43 AM)


Elika619


Dec 23, 2006, 11:43 AM

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Re: [jobieh] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Jobie,

I loved loved loved The Thirteenth Tale. Back during my old life I was the publicist for that book at Simon & Schuster. Diane Setterfield is amazing! I wrote my literary response on Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Interpreter of Maladies." I felt like mine was definitely more of a response than a book report or analysis. I hope that flies with them....I guess I"ll find out in March!

Elika


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Dec 23, 2006, 6:17 PM

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Re: [Elika619] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Hi Elika. I have to agree with you on The Thirteenth Tale; I was pretty much blown away by it. It was the best contemporary book I read this year that was written in the past ten years, and that's why I chose to write my response on it. I don't really think it matters one way or the other what we chose to write about, and it was simply to see if we can intelligently talk about another writers work in a writerly manner, such as we'll be doing in workshops. I have merely heard of the book you mentioned and am always on the lookout for new reads; did you enjoy it? Anyways best of luck on Columbia! Come the end of February I hope we are both able to post the good news here!

--Jobie


(This post was edited by jobieh on Dec 23, 2006, 6:59 PM)


alishein


Dec 28, 2006, 3:06 PM

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Re: [jobieh] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

I wrote my literary essay on a story by Alexsandar Hemon. It was a short paper that I had written for one of my grad classes but it was sort of a mix of response to literary style (this particular story had a normal narrative and then a second one made up of footnotes) and a critical analysis. Now I'm a little worried based on all of your responses about doing a sort of 'workshop' style response (which makes complete sense now that I think about it). Oh well - it's in the mail... Also - I'm now very excited to read The 13th Tale.


Clench Million
Charles

Jan 5, 2007, 5:38 PM

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Re: [alishein] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

I wouldn't worry to much about the essay. I honestly was so busy with everything that I didn't do it till very late the night before I had to send it out. It was nothing special, and I was accepted (and it has been a great experience so far.)

Good luck.


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Mar 5, 2007, 2:24 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Any current or former students care to chime in about the Columbia experience? I've just been accepted there without funding and am a little apprehensive about it all. There have been some great discussions though, notably this one:



"Congrats to all who got into Columbia--it's a very, very strong (i.e. top 15) program, and getting in says a lot about your talents. There's nothing anyone could ever say which would take away from that amazing accomplishment. Period.

That said, the funding is an absolute scandal. If you have outstanding student debt (like from another graduate degree) you're not going to be able to go. If you have bad credit you're not going to be able to go. If you're anything other than a) fabulously wealthy, or b) willing to suffer crippling debt for the next fifteen years--and as a lawyer, I'm learning now how devastating a high debt burden can be to your credit (want a mortgage? A car? A personal loan?)--you're not going to be able to make the numbers work. Five years from now, when the Michigan and Cornell grads have zero student debt and the Columbia grads $110,000, what's Columbia's justification going to be? That Michigan grads don't excel in the marketplace? Please.

Columbia made sense pre-1990, when there were only a handful of decent programs and when few programs were (as maybe half of the top fifty programs are now) free or close to free.

Now there are roughly 20 programs who have the same or close to the same reputation as Columbia (by "close to the same," I mean something less than $110,000 worth of difference) in the field of creative writing who also offer outstanding funding packages and don't suffer from the sort of homogeneous workshop environment engendered by only allowing rich kids to matriculate. Columbia's goal is to scare you into thinking that if you're not living in New York City for the next two years--two years, out of a writing career which might span 50!--you're not going to make it as a professional writer. Sorry, but I think Iowa, Michigan, Cornell, Brown, Texas, Irvine, Washington, Virginia, Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Florida, Arizona, Wash U, Houston, and Indiana grads do just fine and have ample support post-graduation from their school's alumni. Not to mention that their reputations are--in this field at least, which is all that matters--on par with Columbia's or so close to on par that we can accurately say the following: provided you write well (always a prerequisite), nothing about going to __________ instead of Columbia will do anything but help you enormously in your career as a writer.

I say all this so that for those of you with strong offers elsewhere--i.e., top twenty schools which actually offer funding--you'll take those offers seriously. I've only recently learned how debt catches up with you, and I'm 30. Those of you who are younger and who still have time to make a different choice (so long as you're still going to a program with a similar reputation: and yes, Virginia, there are such programs!) are the ones I direct this comment to. Columbia is one of the only MFA programs left in the country which could accurately be described as a "cash cow," and from the looks of their website (just go to the FAQ and look up "financial aid," you'll be amused) they don't intend on changing a damn thing anytime soon.

And no, this isn't some sort of Ivy League envy. I've been to two Ivies and both actually funded their students properly."



Anything at all you can offer up is greatly appreciated. And also, is it possible (and by possible I mean realistic) to go there without funding and without being independently wealthy? Also, what has the experience been like? If you could do it over again would you? Is the financial burden so great as to diminish an otherwise top program?



Glinda Bamboo


Mar 5, 2007, 3:52 PM

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Re: [jobieh] columbia funding Can't Post

You know, Columbia is not for me because of the funding, but that doesn't mean you should automatically listen to someone else's complaints and doubt your decision. That was the only school you applied to (there must have been a good reason for that) and you were surely aware of the funding situation in the beginning. Columbia seems to work well for people. Until I read some of the posts that appeared within the last few hours, I always had the impression that Columbia had a very strong program, and that most students were happy. Is it more accessible for the rich? Well, yeah, it would seem so. But if you feel this is the place for you, then do it.

I agree that Columbia's funding issue is an overwhelming one (and is why I didn't even consider applying) but I also don't get the sudden hostile tone some of the threads are taking.

(This post was edited by Glinda Bamboo on Mar 5, 2007, 10:41 PM)


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Mar 5, 2007, 4:06 PM

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Re: [Glinda Bamboo] colubmia funding Can't Post

Thanks a ton Glinda, and I agree. Columbia is certainly where I want to go and where I will go come September, and yes I was aware of the funding issues, but now that I'm in it seems the reality has smacked me square in the face. I'm not wealthy, far from it, but somehow I'll make it work. I've already talked to financial aid and am emailing back and forth now with Alan Ziegler, the person who called me, and my anxiety has assuaged a bit.

But thanks a lot for the post. Sometimes it takes hearing someone else reiterate the things we know to realize we have made the right decision. I think that is why therapists are so damn popular...

--Jobie


In Reply To
You know, Columbia is not be for me because of the funding, but that doesn't mean you should automatically listen to someone else's complaints and doubt your decision. That was the only school you applied to (there must have been a good reason for that) and you were surely aware of the funding situation in the beginning. Columbia seems to work well for people. Until I read some of the posts that appeared within the last few hours, I always had the impression that Columbia had a very strong program, and that most students were happy. Is it more accessible for the rich? Well, yeah, it would seem so. But if you feel this is the place for you, then do it.

I agree that Columbia's funding issue is an overwhelming one (and is why I didn't even consider applying) but I also don't get the sudden hostile tone some of the threads are taking.



piratelizzy


Mar 5, 2007, 4:19 PM

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Re: [jobieh] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

jobie,

It's worth looking around to figure out a way to afford it. I'll agree with Seth that debt has a way of catching up with you quickly, and of becoming crippling. On the other hand, now you've been admitted, here's an opportunity to storm the castle. Life in NYC and its environs is expensive, no matter what some people say. I work two jobs (and have to live in NJ) and barely make ends meet at a very basic level of middle class existence. No luxuries here. You might be able to get by on some aid, some loan plus a part-time job and a lot of budgeting. At least look into the possibilities. It's probably going to take a lot of planning and PB&J sandwiches, but it's not impossible. I say go for it.

[edit]After tuition[/endedit] your biggest single expense will most likely be rent, followed by food. If you can find a good deal on a place (say $400-500/month in Queens, with roomie), I'd say that's half your battle. Maybe Columbia can help with housing. Housing in NY ain't cheap, but you can save on food. Near NYU there are tons of places to get really cheap food ($5-7), and I imagine it's the same in Columbia's neighborhood.


'sup?!

(This post was edited by piratelizzy on Mar 5, 2007, 4:36 PM)


umass76


Mar 5, 2007, 4:33 PM

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Re: [piratelizzy] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Jobie,

I hope no one misunderstood my comments; if someone has applied to one school because it's where they want to be more than anywhere else--as is the case with you, I think you've said--I say more power to them. It's incredibly brave to apply to one school and incredibly awesome that the gamble paid off and you got in. My hat is off to you, totally. I have every confidence you'll find a way to make this work; it's a challenge, but obviously you'll embrace that challenge with the same spirit and determination as you did the challenge of getting into a top school like Columbia in the first place! While I'll cop to some hostile feelings toward Columbia, it's not because the program is anything other than top-shelf--it's big, yes, but some like that about it; it's unfavorably reviewed by some graduates, but so are many, many other top programs--rather, it's because the funding makes it tougher for folks like you to realize their dreams there. So if I'm angry, I'm angry "on your behalf" (so to speak; I hope that doesn't sound patronizing, I think you know what I mean!). I'm totally pulling for you, man, and as I said, I'm certain you'll make it work and will have a good experience there (and hey, even if you don't, you still have a Columbia degree, dude, buck up!).

Best wishes,
Seth


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Mar 5, 2007, 4:52 PM

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Re: [umass76] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Hi Seth. I thought your initial post was great, and poignant, which is why I used it in an attempt to fuel discussion from both sides of the spectrum. From the people I have talked to it seems Columbia's program is a one or the other. A lot of people loved it and a lot of people hated it, with little ambivalence in between. It is terribly unfortunate that the funding situation is where it is and it will cause me to struggle more than most, but like you said, when it's all said and done I'll have a degree from Columbia (and I will be reminded of that monthly for the next thirty-five years). Woo-hoo. But whatever. It is the way it is and wishing otherwise won't change it. But I appreciate the candid advice from you, and everyone else who has posted. You guys have stirred and assuaged my anxiety all day, but if anything it lit a fire under my ass to get started now on funding and I know it is possible even with my dismal bank account. It won't be easy, but in the end I'll be better for it (kind of like reading Ulysses).

--Jobie


blueragtop


Mar 5, 2007, 5:14 PM

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tenderloner
Geary'n Hyde

Mar 5, 2007, 5:51 PM

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Re: [umass76] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

As ever, Seth says it better. Jobie, please accept my apologies if you took anything I said as pooping on your dream. If anything, I agree again with Seth that my concern is that Columbia robs itself of tremendous talent because of the expense, especially at SOA, which has less aid than Columbia College or Law, for example. I would hate to see someone talented enough to get in not be able to go (especially given Jobie's gutsy gambit!).

As I said privately, going to Columbia was the best of times and the worst of times. I encountered a greater concentration of tremendously brilliant, talented, inspiring people than I ever have before in one place, many of whom I hope to carry with me throughout my years. Because of my difficulties, I was also able to help many other people get in and stay in to finish their degrees and also know they were not alone in their financial and bureaucratic struggles.

As has been pointed out, Jobie, you have almost 6 months to get funding squared away, I had 3.5 weeks (a series of bureaucratic snafus lead to my admission being delayed by over a year) and I leapt at the Ivy dream. I would not advise doing such on that kind of notice, but I had lost funding elsewhere and did not want to interrupt my education yet again. I have seen many others crushed because they dreamed of this for so long and it was always funding and bureaucracy that got in their way.


gcsumfa


Mar 5, 2007, 6:02 PM

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Re: [melos] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

nm


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Mar 5, 2007, 11:20 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 6, 2007, 8:09 PM

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Re: [jobieh] Literary Reponse? Can't Post


Quote

Anything at all you can offer up is greatly appreciated. And also, is it possible (and by possible I mean realistic) to go there without funding and without being independently wealthy? Also, what has the experience been like? If you could do it over again would you? Is the financial burden so great as to diminish an otherwise top program?


I've said this a couple times, but if we push aside funding for one second I'd say Columbia has the best program, at least for my taste (by which I mean, the faculty is incredible but also diverse and eccentric in a way that appeals to me). The quality of writing here is very high, being in NYC is fantastic, the publication history is one of the best, etc.

My experience, beyond funding, has been overwhelmingly positive. I haven't even had a single class that dissapointed me yet (except one 4 sesson master class0 and have honestly loved all my teachers.

Is the financial burden so great as to diminish the program? I think that it obviously diminishes it to some degree, for I think it would be easily the top program if the funding was great, but I don't think it dims it out of the top 15 programs. Like funding for undergrad or any financial consideration, it depends on the circumstances. If you are already in debt form undergrad and going for poetry does it make sense? maybe not. If you are debt free and can get some outside funding maybe it will. I wish the funding was better, but I have no regrets so far.

There are just a few things I'd like to say in response to the post you quoted.

A) While this does not excuse Columbia, it is quite false to pretend that Columbia is virtually the only program with bad funding. Tom Kealey estimated that about 1/3 of the programs have little to no funding. THat includes the other good NYC schools (New School and NYU) and many other quality programs.

B) 110,000 dollars of debt is a pretty inflated number. I guess you might need that much debt if you went to Columbia and lived in an expensive apartment and didn't get any funding from Columbia or outside Columbia and you never worked a day in thsoe two years. But I'd think most people would at the very least be working during the summers and many work part-time during the school year.

C) The claim that Columbia's program doesn't "intend to change a damn thing" is a total lie.
One of the main problems is that there has been no real dean of the school of the arts for the past couple years which has really hurt fundraising for the whole school of the arts, but more to the point Ben Marcus (new writing division head) has been putting a lot of effort into fixing the funding problems. Don't know if that will help you going in this year (or me next year) or not, but it is changing.


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Mar 6, 2007, 8:30 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Ahh Clench, there you are. I've been waiting for you to jump in the conversation. The funding is a real pisser, but so what. I'm coming and I'm excited as hell about it and I think it's going to be the best damn two years of my life. I assure you, I will make use of every opportunity I can. Anyways, do you have any tips that might make this a little easier transition for me? I don't have funding as of now, but am looking for it. Do you recommend living in graduate housing on campus? Anything at all? And I appreciate the candid response you have given. I get freaked out one minute about the debt and then confident that it isn't as bad as people make it out to be. The truth, I'm sure, lies somewhere in the middle of my overreactions. But no matter. I remember you said before you had 12,500 in scholarship money. Was it hard to make up the difference to pay the rest? Anyways, it was good to see your name finally pop up in response. Thanks in advance for any further help you can give me. Alan Ziegler was the one who called me and the one I've been corresponding with since. He has been very helpful too...

--Jobie


In Reply To

Quote

Anything at all you can offer up is greatly appreciated. And also, is it possible (and by possible I mean realistic) to go there without funding and without being independently wealthy? Also, what has the experience been like? If you could do it over again would you? Is the financial burden so great as to diminish an otherwise top program?


I've said this a couple times, but if we push aside funding for one second I'd say Columbia has the best program, at least for my taste (by which I mean, the faculty is incredible but also diverse and eccentric in a way that appeals to me). The quality of writing here is very high, being in NYC is fantastic, the publication history is one of the best, etc.

My experience, beyond funding, has been overwhelmingly positive. I haven't even had a single class that dissapointed me yet (except one 4 sesson master class0 and have honestly loved all my teachers.

Is the financial burden so great as to diminish the program? I think that it obviously diminishes it to some degree, for I think it would be easily the top program if the funding was great, but I don't think it dims it out of the top 15 programs. Like funding for undergrad or any financial consideration, it depends on the circumstances. If you are already in debt form undergrad and going for poetry does it make sense? maybe not. If you are debt free and can get some outside funding maybe it will. I wish the funding was better, but I have no regrets so far.

There are just a few things I'd like to say in response to the post you quoted.

A) While this does not excuse Columbia, it is quite false to pretend that Columbia is virtually the only program with bad funding. Tom Kealey estimated that about 1/3 of the programs have little to no funding. THat includes the other good NYC schools (New School and NYU) and many other quality programs.

B) 110,000 dollars of debt is a pretty inflated number. I guess you might need that much debt if you went to Columbia and lived in an expensive apartment and didn't get any funding from Columbia or outside Columbia and you never worked a day in thsoe two years. But I'd think most people would at the very least be working during the summers and many work part-time during the school year.

C) The claim that Columbia's program doesn't "intend to change a damn thing" is a total lie.
One of the main problems is that there has been no real dean of the school of the arts for the past couple years which has really hurt fundraising for the whole school of the arts, but more to the point Ben Marcus (new writing division head) has been putting a lot of effort into fixing the funding problems. Don't know if that will help you going in this year (or me next year) or not, but it is changing.



umass76


Mar 6, 2007, 8:59 PM

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Re: [jobieh] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Jobie,

Hi again. From the Columbia MFA website:

Tuition for 2003-2004 is $33,000. The estimated total per year, including materials and living expenses, is $50,000.

But here Columbia fools us again. Here's their updated figure, also from the website:

Tuition and fees total $36,788 for the 2006-2007 academic year (two semesters).

So if tuition increases by $3,788 per year, with inflation for your living expenses, that $50,000 per year figure would be $110,000 over two years. That's where my figure came from.

Except you have to remember that only covers nine months of living (schools don't create twelve-month budgets). So fully one-quarter of your annual costs, over the course of those twenty-four months, are not included in that $110,000 estimate from Columbia. For that reason, I made a ridiculously optimistic assumption that an additional $10,000 over twenty-four months would get you through living for six months (three summer months for each of two years) in the most expensive and densely-populated city in the United States. I then assumed a $10,000/year part-time job. Voila: we're back to that $110,000 figure. I wholly agree, however, that if Columbia offers you (or anyone) what appears to be their max or close-to-max grant award--$12,500 per year--that $110,000 would actually be, instead, a paltry $85,000. It's true, also, that if you were to work close to full time while going to Columbia (which many submit would destroy the experience, and which posters who've been to Columbia info sessions say the school does not recommend) you might be able to reduce your two-year debt burden from, say, $85,000 to more like $55,000. If Columbia gives a prospective student no aid whatsoever (as, it appears, does happen), either the prospective student works or he/she goes into the hole for that figure of around $110,000.

There are definitely other programs with bad funding; if you look at The Kealey Scale on my website, you'll find out what some of them are. Generally, schools with bad funding seem to be--and this is my wholly anecdotal opinion--slipping in terms of their prestige. Pitt, for instance, is not now what it was in 1997, before anyone had written a guidebook for MFA students telling them (rightly) how important funding is. The same goes for Maryland, for Utah, and a host of other programs once very, very highly-regarded. Those schools which right now are the most popular in the country (again, anecdotal evidence, and recent polling, seems to suggest)--Cornell, Michigan, Texas, Irvine, Virginia, Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue, and many other "top forty" programs--all have ridiculously good funding, funding which unfortunately puts Columbia (and those others I mentioned above) to shame.

I think I mentioned that Columbia "seems to" have no intention of changing their stripes, and I think I mentioned that this opinion was based on the website only. Here's what the website has to say about funding at Columbia:

Typically your first year at Columbia will be the hardest financially. Anything you can do now--including working and saving--will pay off exponentially should you be admitted. Since funding for the arts is scarce, it is advised you expand the scope of your search beyond your field of study. Mine your undergraduate institution for resources: alumni association grants, scholarships, financial aid databases, etc. Think of any major corporations you or your relatives have been employed by. Research your family tree for ethnic associations. Many fellowships are awarded based upon your state of birth. Most importantly, DO IT NOW. If you wait until you have been accepted to the program, most application deadlines will have passed. Take advantage of the Columbia cachet before you are admitted; you may be awarded funds provisional upon your acceptance. Financial aid available from the School of the Arts is outlined in detail in the School of the Arts website and on each Division's website as it pertains to their funding abilities. Information on FAFSA can be found below. Please be aware that there are no complete tuition waivers at the School of the Arts, and fellowship opportunities are limited. Teaching assistantships are available and such positions may be paid, but are almost entirely reserved for second year students, and are not a major source of tuition reimbursement for most SoA students. International students are eligible for all fellowships awarded by the School of the Arts. All applicants should be advised that the majority of funding available to you will be in the form of low interest loans.

[Caps in original; underlines are mine].

If that ain't a middle finger, folks, nothing is. If they were planning on changing their stripes soon, they'd take down that ridiculously offensive and condescending FAQ answer.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Mar 6, 2007, 9:03 PM)


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Mar 6, 2007, 9:19 PM

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Eh, whatever. Thanks for the response Seth. It's a tough mountain to climb and realistically speaking will probably be too tall a hurdle for me to overcome. But I'm sick of stressing out about it and just have to wait and see. Went to bed about ten last night and didn't fall asleep till after two thinking about this shit. And you are right, it's a big F-U from Columbia and I have a tough time believing it's the best they can do with the resources at their disposal. We shall see. I've been at a coffeehouse since six and have written fifteen hundred words, and, in the grand scheme of things, that's the important thing. I have to quit reading these posts. One minutes I'm through the ceiling and the next flattened. This yo-yo is not a good thing considering I have six months to go (for proof of that read my last post compared to this). Who knows. But thanks for the post...


(This post was edited by jobieh on Mar 6, 2007, 9:21 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 6, 2007, 9:24 PM

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I fail to see what is "ridiculously offensive and condescending" about that FAQ excerpt, especially the parts you underlined. It seems to me like they are giving practical advice on how to look for outside funding so that you can minimize your debt.

"
Since funding for the arts is scarce, it is advised you expand the scope of your search beyond your field of study. Mine your undergraduate institution for resources: alumni association grants, scholarships, financial aid databases, etc. Think of any major corporations you or your relatives have been employed by. Research your family tree for ethnic associations. Many fellowships are awarded based upon your state of birth."

What is offense of condescending that you are underlining there? If you are looking for out of school funding it is simply a fact that funding for the arts is scare and it is true that you will have more luck looking for scholarships that apply to your ethnicity or state of birth. Why is pointing out those facts offensive to you? I really don't see anything offenensive or condescending in anything you posted (unless you are just offended by the notion that an MFA program wouldnt' have funding, which I can understand)


Quote
If they were planning on changing their stripes soon, they'd take down that

I'd also point out that you are quoting from the FAQ for the entire School of the Arts, not the Writing program, which is what I said was working to change its funding situation.... I have no idea what the situation is over in Film or Theater or what not.


Quote
Columbia and I have a tough time believing it's the best they can do with the resources at their disposal.


As with, I'd assume, all the programs with less than stellar funding, Columbia University could easily do better. But that doesn't mean that the writing division itself could do better. Funding problems are normally a resault of the upper management, not the teachers involved with the specific programs. I say this only to point out that the bad funding situations at various schools never means that the teachers themselves enjoy it and if a University's attitude towards X or Y bugs you don't assume that the people involved in X or Y will share that attitude.



(This post was edited by Clench Million on Mar 6, 2007, 9:35 PM)


umass76


Mar 6, 2007, 9:52 PM

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Clench,
I don't want to fight, so I'll just answer your question as directly as I can:

1) Saying that "funding for the arts is scarce" is a cop-out, as (to me) that grammar implies that Columbia feels funding for the arts is generally scarce--or else they would have said, "funding for the arts is scarce at Columbia." Obviously funding for the arts isn't generally scarce (look at the other top programs), so if they meant that, they're being disingenuous or even downright inaccurate. If, instead, they mean to say that funding for the arts is scarce at Columbia, I still find the phrasing inexcusably evasive, as the very reason they won't add "at Columbia" to that sentence is because a) it would make the school look bad, and b) it would force the "arts" folks at Columbia to take direct responsibility for the fact that they haven't been able to pry a few million dollars out of the hands of the Trustees, who oversee an endowment of, what, a few billion? I don't see how any graduate school has the right to expect to be well-regarded in its field when it doesn't support its graduate students financially. Undergrad, different story: but Columbia can't just willfully ignore the MFA and PhD. culture in academia today, which says that those degrees should be free or close to it.

2) The FAQ's suggestions for students (in terms of finding funding) are offensive, largely because they're so ham-handedly inapplicable (to most students that is; at least 80%) that it doesn't feel they were trying very hard to come up with solutions for the problem that they created. What if my parents are retired, or schoolteachers, and not businesspeople--so there aren't any "corporate" scholarships available on the basis proposed by Columbia? What if I'm white, or from Massachusetts--do the recommendations apply (or even try to apply) to me then, where "ethnic associations" and "state of birth" grants are concerned? What if I went to a community college, or graduated from college a decade ago--do you think I can still "mine my undergraduate" school for funds? It ridiculous, but what's worse is that I feel Columbia is savvy enough--and I give them that much credit here--to know it's ridiculous. Clearly they just don't care that it's ridiculous. Yet even here, again, they're being evasive; they don't want to admit the obvious (until the very last two sentences of the FAQ) which is, in paraphrase: "you're going to have to borrow more than $100,000 to come here, sorry pal." I'd respect them a lot more--and they'd be respecting their incoming students a lot more--if they just leveled with them without all the patronizing "DO IT NOW" (caps in original) suggestions about obscure funding streams.

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Mar 6, 2007, 9:54 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 6, 2007, 10:06 PM

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I'm not sure why you have such an obsession with Columbia. You spend more time taking pot-shots at it here and on your website than you do talking about any other program. It really strikes me as odd. If the stuff was really so offensive you could just leave it at that and wouldn't need to write an essay to convince everyone....

1) Yes, funding for the arts is relatively scare. Again, I will point out that you are quoting the FAQ for the ENTIRE school of the arts. It is NOT the FAQ for the writing program. As such, waving your hand and mentioning how there are a lot of top writing programs with good funding (which normally means not funding as much as TAships/jobs [which is awesome, but not free money like they are talking about here]) doesn't have that much to do with this.

Do most schools fully fund their film programs for example? Do most theater programs have TAships? I am not sure, but unless they all do, your argument is silly.

2) It seems you like you are REALLY reaching for straws to take more pot shots at columbia. What if you are white from Mass? So what if you are? Does that mean it is "offensive" if Columbia points out (correctly) that there are lots of scholarship opportunities for minorities? (Although FWIW, you can find, for some odd reason, lots of scholarships based on state of birth. Even Mass.)
You don't think their funding ideas have enough thought? Jebus dude, you are just quoting a quick paragraph response that is meant to be short and general enough to apply to all the programs within the school of the arts. That one paragraph on the website is not the be-all end-all of Columbia's advice for funding. They give you a fucking book on it. If you expected a legnthy essay on how to fund your graduate experience on a FAQ webpage I don't know what to say.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Mar 6, 2007, 10:09 PM)


umass76


Mar 6, 2007, 10:26 PM

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Clench,
I respect your school spirit. But I'm the sort who'll be quick to criticize even my own alma maters (Dartmouth, Harvard) if/when I see the need.
S.


tenderloner
Geary'n Hyde

Mar 6, 2007, 10:32 PM

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Ah, the Columbia debate rages on. Prior to this thread, I'd never heard anything bad about the program itself, but when I asked about money they acted like I was from another planet (which, I guess I am, Earth). However, I still contend that if you can't pay for it, that's a pretty major problem.

Also, the living expenses are not realistic. I know few who can live in NYC for $1500 a month, though it can be done. A typical CU student share (1 BR in a 2 or 3 BR apt, including internet and utilities), was about $7800 last year. It's possible to find a roommate share for less, but generally you sacrifice in neighborhood, distance, etc. Again, the feasibility of this all depends on what else you're balancing (jobs).

In Reply To
you were to work close to full time while going to Columbia (which many submit would destroy the experience, and which posters who've been to Columbia info sessions say the school does not recommend)

It was phrased more strongly than that. The working folks in their slacks and button downs who had rushed all the way the fuck up to Columbia kept asking about money. Ben Marcus said something very Columbialike, along the lines of "if you can't commit ... it's not for you" in response to the question of whether or not it was possible to work full time. He said the program is too rigorous. It looks like the classes are scheduled mid-morning, afternoon and evening -- anyone in the program care to comment on how possible it is to isolate classes in order to maximize work hours?


you might be able to reduce your two-year debt burden from, say, $85,000 to more like $55,000. If Columbia gives a prospective student no aid whatsoever (as, it appears, does happen), either the prospective student works or he/she goes into the hole for that figure of around $110,000.


Also, one thing I don't understand about the Columbia program is the number of units per course, some were 4 and 6 units each, for about 30 per year. NYU, for example is 32 credits for two years, for about $34k total. The same types of classes, for example workshops, were fewer credits at NYU.

I'd like to know who can save $85k in the 9 months or so between application to attendance (even if they had previous savings). I only know 2 people in the program, one I'm not sure how she affords it, though she does work PT in the program and has for some time, beginning as an undergrad, through which she has freelance connections. The other has a wealthy father and a boyfriend whose only quality she ever mentioned to me was a six figure income. I very sincerely would love to hear specifics for how regular, working people come up with these kinds of funds (are you filling in the gaps with private loans or are you just smart about generating money?). Did you really come up with it through outside scholarships, alumni associations and the employers of yourself and all your relatives? Heck, if I get into a moderately priced program, but without enough funding, I could use this advice! (Feel free to PM me on that issue.)



Clench Million
Charles

Mar 6, 2007, 10:37 PM

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Whatever you say. I guess I just don't understand why when I correct something I see in a post (which I had no idea was yours, the author wasn't quoted) because I have actual information, you feel the need to turn it into a big essay on how you arrived at your conclusion that funding wasn't changing since you somehow found the phrasing offensive on a FAQ page that isn't even operated by the writing program.

I was posting, for people interested and since I have some inside information being in the program, that Ben Marcus has been working hard to get more funding and the situation should be improving. I don't think much needs to be said beyond that unless someone has contrary information.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 6, 2007, 10:45 PM

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Quote
I know few who can live in NYC for $1500 a month, though it can be done. A typical CU student share (1 BR in a 2 or 3 BR apt, including internet and utilities), was about $7800 last year.


I think you got an extra zero in there ;). Columbia stuent shares are ~700 a month, not 7,800.


Quote
anyone in the program care to comment on how possible it is to isolate classes in order to maximize work hours?


I'd say it is very easy. Beyond your workshop (from which you normally have 4 or 5 options) you have no strict requirement, so you can take whatever combination of other class, seminars and lectures you want and since the program is a large one there are tons of classes. I consolidated all my classes to 2 days a week this semester, no problem.

I agree with that Marcus quote that, I at least, would find having a full time job and attending Columbia (or any MFA program) to be pretty hard. But it isn't much of a chore to work a part-time job, say 10-20 hours or however many hours you would be working as a TA at another school. Most people seem to be working some time of part-time job or doing an internship here.


tenderloner
Geary'n Hyde

Mar 6, 2007, 11:04 PM

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I think you got an extra zero in there ;). Columbia stuent shares are ~700 a month, not 7,800.


Yep, mixed the monthly and annual figures. Oops. And I got hosed, my first assignment was a dorm room at $7500 for 2003-04.


Quote
I'd say it is very easy. Beyond your workshop (from which you normally have 4 or 5 options) you have no strict requirement, so you can take whatever combination of other class, seminars and lectures you want and since the program is a large one there are tons of classes. I consolidated all my classes to 2 days a week this semester, no problem.


That's useful information. I don't know many jobs I could work 3 days a week, but if I could go a few partial days, that's something.


Quote
I agree with that Marcus quote that, I at least, would find having a full time job and attending Columbia (or any MFA program) to be pretty hard. But it isn't much of a chore to work a part-time job, say 10-20 hours or however many hours you would be working as a TA at another school. Most people seem to be working some time of part-time job or doing an internship here.


There's the rub. The program is both rigorous and expensive (not to mention the expense of it's location). As I learned as an undergrad, I can't pay NYC rent on a 20 hr/week job. Trying to do so drove my hourly wage down to levels it had not been since the early '90s. I'd need to find something that was very, very flexible in terms of hours, but still paid a decent wage. That's tough. Not impossible, but tough.

Thanks for the info. Luckily, Columbia didn't like my writing, anyway.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 6, 2007, 11:12 PM

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Quote

That's useful information. I don't know many jobs I could work 3 days a week, but if I could go a few partial days, that's something.


I guess I should also say that, agian due to the variety and amount of classes offered, it should not be too hard to get all your classes at night if you were so inclined. There are a few classes that start at 10 or 11, but most are more like 4 or 5 and there are enough classes after 5 that you could probably have them all at night if you needed.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Mar 6, 2007, 11:26 PM

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Look: Columbia is expensive. Some people are willing to pay for it. Others are not.

I think that pretty well covers the territory of this debate, yes?

I liked the fact that while I was in grad school, my free time was spent drinking PBRs on my neighbor's porch, or watching Netflix movies while smelling my own farts. But if I'd wanted to go to a more expensive school badly enough, I could have found a part-time job to help pay for it, and it wouldn't have ruined my lifestyle. Right now I'm teaching 4 classes, doing some freelance work, and still finding time to work on my novel.

God, I can't believe I just defended Columbia. I think they're supposed to be like the Jets to Iowa's Sharks, or something. Clench and I should be dance-fighting.


tenderloner
Geary'n Hyde

Mar 6, 2007, 11:40 PM

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I guess I should also say that, agian due to the variety and amount of classes offered, it should not be too hard to get all your classes at night if you were so inclined. There are a few classes that start at 10 or 11, but most are more like 4 or 5 and there are enough classes after 5 that you could probably have them all at night if you needed.


That is helpful to know (for the hardworking Jobie). Moot for me, since I'm presumably rejected. :)

I meant to mention in my previous post that if NYU and Hunter can get fellowships for their students ($20k NY Times fellowship with matching tuition from NYU, $5 and $10k fellowships at Hunter), the Columbia name could bring in the same kind of funds. I know Marcus is new, but why wasn't that on the radar long before? The fact that it wasn't thought of is what troubles me. Though of course, moot again.

Edited to say:
As someone already pointed out to Jobie, there are ways. Like being a porn star and escort. Lordy, why didn't I think of that?

Edited again to say:
If anyone follows the link, it's extremely NSFW. Images don't always load in Firefox on my laptop at home, so I didn't realize they were there. And graphic. My apologies.


(This post was edited by tenderloner on Mar 7, 2007, 1:44 PM)


__________



Mar 7, 2007, 5:13 AM

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Holy shit!

No one's commented on this:

Research your family tree for ethnic associations!

Anyone else find this hilarious? Like, what, my great-grandfather was half Cherokee, so maybe if I toss some Miracle-Gro on our family tree, lie to the right committee, I could get me some funding?

Could your family tree also be hiding Mexicans? Our students have many, many options!

:P


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Mar 7, 2007, 5:15 AM)


ajholtz


Mar 7, 2007, 5:57 AM

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don't know why i feel the need to enter the debate, as i've no ties to columbia whatsoever and don't plan to apply there (i might have something useful to say, give me a second)
jobie - congrats - don't let anyone pull down the effect of your accomplishment, because getting into columbia is a grand one. you should be proud of yourself.

doesn't it strike you as odd that an ivy league school with some very very wealthy alums and probably a very healthy annual donation budget has so little to give? i don't know how much undergrad is there (i went to a very expensive private liberal arts school, debt is sucky) but how, HOW can they justify their astronomical fees? perhaps the faculty is just worth that much more, or maybe the rental space for their classrooms, or maybe all the free pencils they'll have to give out to their writing students when they break or lose erasers.

my point (i think i have one): maybe they like to charge that much. maybe they think it gives them distinction and therefore weeds out the meek and unballsy. unfortunately, with that kind of tuition coming in, they don't need to worry about people not applying because of the price, there's always some rich kid billy madison quite happy to spend their parents money garnering superfluous degrees. maybe they say they'll change, but why would they? that money is going somewhere and there's a lot of it...


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 7, 2007, 9:55 AM

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Quote
I meant to mention in my previous post that if NYU and Hunter can get fellowships for their students ($20k NY Times fellowship with matching tuition from NYU, $5 and $10k fellowships at Hunter), the Columbia name could bring in the same kind of funds. I know Marcus is new, but why wasn't that on the radar long before? The fact that it wasn't thought of is what troubles me.


Well Columbia DOES have fellowships around those ranges. I have one myself. Don't know how many they do, but I think the deal is that even 5-20K isn't that much when compared to the amount you might get from Cornell or UVA. But they do have some funding.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 7, 2007, 10:14 AM

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I think "they" charge that much because it isn't something on the beaurocracy's radar or something they care that much about. Here is the deal with Columbia as I undestand it. There is one tuition for Columbia, it is the same at all the departments. Different programs are not allowed to pick different tuitions for their students (I think this is the same at most universities). So how do most of these programs get people free tuition? Well either by getting free money fellowships from donors and such or, most commonly, by making the students workers by hiring them as TAs.

So why can't a big rich university like Columbia do the same thing? Well, here is the problem, Columbia does not currently HAVE a creative writing undergrad program. The SOA is given a few spots to TA undergrad english classes, but the vast majority of those spots are owned by the english PhD program.

So that is what is crippling Columbia's funding, the lack of a creative writing undergrad program.


HopperFu


Mar 7, 2007, 10:17 AM

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In Reply To
Clench and I should be dance-fighting.


I would pay HUGE money, like $5, to see Mike and Clench dance-fight. Seriously. First one of us to give a high-profile reading somewhere should insist on a dance-fight. I'd totally do a dance fight as long as I get to be the one with the feathered hair.


Moonshade


Mar 7, 2007, 10:52 AM

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In Reply To

In Reply To
Clench and I should be dance-fighting.


I would pay HUGE money, like $5, to see Mike and Clench dance-fight. Seriously. First one of us to give a high-profile reading somewhere should insist on a dance-fight. I'd totally do a dance fight as long as I get to be the one with the feathered hair.


LOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


tenderloner
Geary'n Hyde

Mar 7, 2007, 11:27 AM

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Quote
There is one tuition for Columbia, it is the same at all the departments. Different programs are not allowed to pick different tuitions for their students (I think this is the same


Actually, undergrads in the School of General Studies pay more per unit than those in the other undergraduate schools. They also pay for a greater number of units, 17 v. 15, before they hit a max tuition cap. It's my understanding GS students pay what grad students pay and that grad students all pay the same amount.


Quote
So why can't a big rich university like Columbia do the same thing? Well, here is the problem, Columbia does not currently HAVE a creative writing undergrad program. The

Really? Then I spent far too much time on the 6th floor of Lewisohn hall and my degree is a lie. GS students have been able to major in Lit-Writing for years. Now that Columbia College students can major in writing, suddenly the program won't be a frankenmajor (half lit, half writing), will be modeled on the graduate program and will use graduate instructors. Previously, CC and BC students could have a writing concentration. Which was actually the same number of workshops as GS students took, plus CC-only honors workshops. Also, the department gives a thesis reading to CC seniors, concentration or no. A student had to get grant money from the History Channel and CU Arts to put on a reading for GS Seniors majoring in lit-writing because the department refused.

I think one of the reasons I applied to the MFA was in the hope that I could attend Columbia as a mainstream student, rather than a second class student.


Quote
So that is what is crippling Columbia's funding, the lack of a creative writing undergrad program.


Well, I suppose they could have saved tons of money using grad students instead of adjuncts for the Structure & Style classes at least, maybe not the advanced workshops.

Edited to add that I'm totally down with the dance fighting and can't believe my gay porn star/escort schoolmate garnered no response.


(This post was edited by tenderloner on Mar 7, 2007, 11:32 AM)


mingram
Mike Ingram

Mar 7, 2007, 12:04 PM

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In Reply To

In Reply To
Clench and I should be dance-fighting.


I would pay HUGE money, like $5, to see Mike and Clench dance-fight. Seriously. First one of us to give a high-profile reading somewhere should insist on a dance-fight. I'd totally do a dance fight as long as I get to be the one with the feathered hair.


It's too bad we didn't think of this a couple months ago, because Barrelhouse hosted a reading at KGB in New York. We could've thrown down, literary nerd style.


tenderloner
Geary'n Hyde

Mar 7, 2007, 12:44 PM

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You joke, but I do know someone on a full ride to Columbia because she's half Mexican. Luckily, her father's half (itself likely white and upper class Mexican), so she has the surname. She owned property in another state, but somehow hid that fact from financial aid. Albeit, that's undergrad.


In Reply To
Holy shit!

No one's commented on this:


Quote
Research your family tree for ethnic associations!

Anyone else find this hilarious? Like, what, my great-grandfather was half Cherokee, so maybe if I toss some Miracle-Gro on our family tree, lie to the right committee, I could get me some funding?

Could your family tree also be hiding Mexicans? Our students have many, many options!


Arkinese


Mar 7, 2007, 4:35 PM

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In Reply To
Research your family tree for ethnic associations!
You joke, but I do know someone on a full ride to Columbia because she's half Mexican. Luckily, her father's half (itself likely white and upper class Mexican), so she has the surname.

It's true about "ethnic-related" scholarships. I certainly wasn't applying to Columbia for my undergrad but my mom researched scholarships anyway because she's paranoid about money having come from a poor Italian family. My dad, who is not Italian and not money-paranoid, scoffed at the idea that I would get any need-based scholarship based on our financial status. My mom prattled on about how there were "tons of scholarships for Italian-Americans and since [I'm] a quarter Italian...."
ME: Oh, come on. I know there are Hispanic-based ones but who's giving money for Italian scholarships? The mob?
MOM: [long pause] Maybe.

However, even though my paranoid mom wanted to get in on the ethnic funding, I'm a little put-off that an actual university (and not a guidance/career counselor or a parent) would suggest, in a rather blase' way, ferreting out any and all money-grubbing sources you can find. I can understand them expecting you to pay your own way and highlighting funding options outside of their loans but there are more...euphemistic ways to say such things.

Just my 2 cents. Your mileage may vary.


(This post was edited by Arkinese on Mar 7, 2007, 5:08 PM)


tenderloner
Geary'n Hyde

Mar 7, 2007, 4:47 PM

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Re: [Arkinese] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Yeah, actually usually the preps don't say what they really mean in quite such an open and tacky way. I think I mentioned the guy who said, during a discussion of The N word "I just learned not to use it because it would offend the maid."

I was told I was "African American" just about every day. I'm not sure if black people had the same experience, or if I was being put in my place. I grew up in white suburbs, but it was my first experience with that level of privilege, entitlement and extreme discomfort with minorities, exacerbated by strict taboos around expressing such directly or, heaven forfend, talking about money. Columbia is one of the more surreal places I've ever spent any time and I lived on the corner of Haight and Ashbury when Jerry Garcia died and it seemed the pachouli cloud would never lift.


(This post was edited by tenderloner on Mar 7, 2007, 5:01 PM)


duchess919


Mar 7, 2007, 6:07 PM

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Re: [tenderloner] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

It's not only Columbia. New York City just placed a 'symbolic ban' on the 'n-word'--talk about hegemonic po-mo neo-oppression...


libbyagain


Mar 7, 2007, 6:12 PM

Post #132 of 430 (7865 views)
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Re: [tenderloner] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

I'm sooooo totally not capable of inserting myself into this discussion, but I find it totally fascinating, and can't really help chiming in.

First, I think, based on my experiences teaching in various colleges, it's definitely true that where there's not funding, there's not pressure to have it. For many reasons--including, sometimes principally, that there's been no one willing to spearhead the effort to GET that funding: maybe at the risk of putting a career or two at risk, or otherwise upsetting various equillibria, that are so-far "working." If a school as well-endowed as Columbia has not yet chosen to fund its graduate MFA students in a way that can possibly and reliably make sense for those students--well, that program hasn't yet reached critical mass to make decisions to DO so. My bet is, they probably will--and perhaps soonish, but there may be some need of some major negative PR to force them to do so. Maybe some confident faculty will put careers on the line to do so, knowing they'll be retained anyway. Why haven't they, yet? Well. . . critical mass. .. tipping points. . . the need to shake the cage of the status quo, because it's definitely not working. So long as many/most MFA'ers at Columbia who don't get funding nonetheless suck it up and take out loans, or whatever, and don't militate major shake-em-up Daddy/Mommy Warbuckses to shake-shake-shake. . . probably nothing will change too quickly.

As for affirmative action, and grants.scholarships.whatever based on ethnicity. . . or, WHATever. . . in my experience, that's the state of being. Truly, I WISH I'd paid attention to my own mother, who felt sure (and she was right!) that she could help me get scholarship based on being (get this) of freaking SWISS lineage. Because, truly, there WAS such help (a modicum of it) e'en two decades ago--which I didn't avail myself of, finding it a cheap trick, because I thought my amazing intellect would suffice. Which it did--to a degree. But those undergraduate LOANS!! OUCH!!

I am a person who has a weird professional history. Maybe "weird," and maybe "more or less normal" (time will reveal somewhat of the truth, as it usually does): in that, in a field heavily impacted by cut-backs (English lit) at the post-secondary level, affirmative action has distinctly meant four jobs that I did not get--and I was told this point-blank. I do not argue, necessarily, with this-all. I do think that colleges that presume to teach the full spectrum of American students need to be represented by faculty who are akin to students, who share their experiences, and, yes, ethnicities. Not to say I don't think the specifics of "how" are not totally horrifically difficult to determine. But I DO think that, in this impacted era, of all sorts of down-sizing and out-sourcing and various other reasons why folks who are fabulous end up disenfranchised, TAKE WHATEVER RESOURCE IS OFFERED--ethnicity-based? TAKE it!! Gender-based? TAKE it!! TAKE IT, in whatever shape it offers. . . SNATCH IT UP!!

As for NYC, and extreme privilege that may rear its head at Columbia and elsewhere. . . I haven't a clue. All I know is, we live in an era when the gulf between rich and poor, however those two quotients is defined, is larger than it has ever ever been--larger, statistically, than even the gulf between rich and poor in feudal Germany, at its WORST divide. So. .. whatever it takes to bridge that gulf, if it's available, TAKE it!!

Tenderloner, I was struck by your comment, somewhere back, that many may "prostitute" themselves, in today's NYC. I have a tremendous friend, whose gorgeous daughter, today in NYC, is. . . basically doing that. I am chilled to the bone to consider said daughter. My husband, who was an actor in NYC for several years, says, "tish-tosh. . . that's the way of the world, there. . . was when I was there, too. . . "

NOT ACCEPTABLE!! Just . . .NOT. "But. . .she's dating the manager of the Rangers, and calls me all thrilled to tell me what she's discovered of his salary. . . "

Well, I'm definitely out of my depth, here. So, g'bye, and GOOD luck!!

Elizabeth


tenderloner
Geary'n Hyde

Mar 7, 2007, 6:39 PM

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In Reply To
I'm sooooo totally not capable of inserting myself into this discussion, but I find it totally fascinating, and can't really help chiming in.


Elizabeth, thanks for your thoughts, you actually had a lot of interesting and thoughtful things to say.


Quote
As for affirmative action, and grants.scholarships.whatever based on ethnicity. . . or, WHATever. . . in my experience, that's the state of being. Truly, I WISH I'd paid attention to my own mother, who felt sure (and she was right!) that she could help me get scholarship based on being (get this) of freaking SWISS lineage.


The rub is, I think that the first time I went to college, I refused all ethnicity-based aid. I hadn't grown up poor, am less than half black and felt like a fraud. But it didn't matter, as students resented me anyway and accused me of only being there due to Affirmative Action. Oddly enough, it was a 2nd-tier state school that didn't even require SAT scores (of which mine were in the 4 digit range, rare at my high school). Given that I didn't finish college the first time around due to lack of funding, I did take a minority scholarship. If I was going to be accused anyway, I might as well just take the aid. There was no other way I knew of to pay for it (more on that later). I also liked that "underrepresented group" was only one requirement. That way, my poor and first generation college student first cousins would not be excluded because they were white (not that they are applying to Columbia, but in principle).


Quote
a field heavily impacted by cut-backs (English lit) at the post-secondary level, affirmative action has distinctly meant four jobs that I did not get--and I was told this point-blank. I do not argue, necessarily, with this-all. I do think that colleges that presume to teach the full spectrum of American students need to be represented by faculty


Again, that's why I initially resisted such aid. How many times I'd heard the "unqualified minority" tale of woe from someone who felt they were passed over for a minority. Not saying that is how you put it, quite the opposite. But that you were told this creates resentment toward minorities and the perception of minority = less qualified. It's not like there aren't plenty of qualified minorities, so that's a lazy and cynical approach. Indeed, one of the great surprises at Columbia was that I befriended more black people than I ever had before in my life. I just did not have much interaction with blacks outside of one side of the family. And they were very different from most blacks I encountered before Columbia. In particular, I made a lot of black women friends, which has been invaluable.


Quote
Tenderloner, I was struck by your comment, somewhere back, that many may "prostitute" themselves, in today's NYC.

Yes, I meant it euphemistically (and specific to Columbia, but I've since seen the ads on Craig's List). Last night I discovered one of my peers was a gay porn star and male prostitute prior to, and possibly while a student at Columbia. In a way, that's more honest than the pretty girl in the MFA program dating the older man she doesn't love, but for his wallet. I know it happens all the time, I guess I just chose such a school to meet a better quality of people (intellectually), but too often encountered the dregs of humanity, in terms of morals.


(This post was edited by tenderloner on Mar 7, 2007, 6:47 PM)


Alexland
Alexander Landfair

Mar 20, 2007, 3:28 PM

Post #134 of 430 (7722 views)
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New Columbians? Can't Post

Has anyone gotten anything in the mail from Columbia?


onlooker


Mar 21, 2007, 8:02 PM

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No, I'm still waiting, though I was admitted by phone on March 1st. Granted, I'm abroad at the moment and asked them to forward any mail to me here.


Alexland
Alexander Landfair

Mar 22, 2007, 11:52 PM

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so you applied for fiction or poetry? I applied for poetry and was contacted on the 9th


onlooker


Mar 22, 2007, 11:58 PM

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Re: [Alexland] New Columbians? Can't Post

Fiction. I'm pretty sure I'll take the offer. Bashing Columbia's apparently quite trendy these days, but I still think it's a great program; it was always my first choice. Plus I already live in New York :) How about you?


Alexland
Alexander Landfair

Mar 23, 2007, 11:23 AM

Post #138 of 430 (7551 views)
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Re: [onlooker] New Columbians? Can't Post

yeah its worth it. I'm sure ill accept their offer as soon as i get the packet in the mail. So i guess ill see you next semsester.


jonathandavid



Mar 23, 2007, 5:32 PM

Post #139 of 430 (7512 views)
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How many waitiisted per concentration? Can't Post

I heard back from Columbia a few days ago (applied for the poetry concentration) by mail, notifying me that I have been waitlisted; anyone know how many folks (they said it was a short list--wonder what they mean by short) are waitlisted per concentration?


onlooker


Mar 24, 2007, 8:47 AM

Post #140 of 430 (7470 views)
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Re: [Alexland] New Columbians? Can't Post

alexland... right on!


jonathandavid... sorry I have no idea :(


decemberist


Mar 24, 2007, 10:01 AM

Post #141 of 430 (7463 views)
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Re: [Alexland] New Columbians? Can't Post

In and going for poetry. Nothing in the mail yet either.


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Mar 28, 2007, 12:23 PM

Post #142 of 430 (7396 views)
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Re: [decemberist] New Columbians? Can't Post

So apparently the packets have arrived (at least for one, though I'm still waiting for mine), and I was wondering if anyone has received the financial award packet yet?

Signed,
Stressed in Chicago


bighark


Mar 28, 2007, 12:57 PM

Post #143 of 430 (7383 views)
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Re: [jobieh] New Columbians? Can't Post

Hey Jobie,

You can tack on three extra days for anything sent through the Chicago Post office.

I got a letter--FROM CHICAGO--that took five days to arrive (Delivered March 26 with a March 22 postmark). This letter traveled from Lincoln Park to Lincoln Square--maybe three miles, tops.

Don't get too worried just yet.


perne6
Ruchika

Mar 28, 2007, 1:17 PM

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Re: [bighark] New Columbians? Can't Post

Straying a little off topic here . . .what does everyone think about Zadie Smith as visiting professor next year? I guess this means I finally should read her...


harja


Mar 28, 2007, 1:25 PM

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Re: [perne6] New Columbians? Can't Post

You'd be better off just reading the stuff she mimics.


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Mar 28, 2007, 3:31 PM

Post #146 of 430 (7337 views)
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Re: [harja] New Columbians? Can't Post

Bighark, you are definitely right. The inner workings of the Chicago Post Office reminds me of the intestinal tract of a dog with worms.

Is Zadie Smith going to be a visiting professor next year? That's huge, if so. I'll be the first to admit that she does mimic, as harja writes, but she's a damn good writer nonetheless (if you conveniently ignore The Autograph Man, which I do).

Also, anyone going to the Open House on April 13th?




In Reply To
You'd be better off just reading the stuff she mimics.



(This post was edited by jobieh on Mar 29, 2007, 6:09 PM)


cookie1984


Mar 28, 2007, 6:24 PM

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richard ford? Can't Post

i'm waitlisted at columbia so don't have a lot of the package info. but i was curious if anyone knows if richard ford is going to stick around, or was he a one year visiting professor type too, like zadie smith will be? he's on the website as being there now. he is a big reason i'm staying on the waitlist.


lili99


Mar 28, 2007, 9:36 PM

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Re: [jobieh] New Columbians? Can't Post

i got an email inviting me to the open house even though i'm only on the wait list. think i'm gonna go since it's only a 6 subway stops away, but i wonder if it's going to make me feel silly and sad.

is anyone on the wait list going to the open house?


alishein


Mar 29, 2007, 9:56 AM

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Re: [lili99] New Columbians? Can't Post

I'm on the waitlist and I'm considering going. Even if I don't get in -- I'm curious see how the open house is run and what sorts of things they tell us.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 29, 2007, 4:25 PM

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Re: [cookie1984] richard ford? Can't Post

Richard Ford is not a one year deal, he has been at Columbia for a while. That said, last year he only taught one class and this year he only taught one master class. I have no idea if he is doing more next year, but he isn't a major member of the faculty (like say Ben Marcus, Sam Lipsyte, Paul LeFarge or Jaime Manrique who all teach workshops and seminars.)

Gary Stheingart and Rebecca Curtis are both staying around (I think they were one year deals, but now have longer positions) and both are amazing professors.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 29, 2007, 4:28 PM

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In Reply To
I'm on the waitlist and I'm considering going. Even if I don't get in -- I'm curious see how the open house is run and what sorts of things they tell us.


The open house is worth going to if you live nearby, but if not I really wouldn't bother. Don't take a plane ride for it or anything. Any questions you have can be answered by the faculty or by second year students (feel free to ask me anything if you want, though I don't check this board daily so it might take me a bit to get back).

However, if you want to visit (during the open house or another time) I'd recommend trying to sit in on a seminar or two. I did when I visited (a Richard Ford class no less) and thought that was more interesting and enlightening than the open house.


decemberist


Mar 30, 2007, 10:59 AM

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Re: [Clench Million] New Columbians? Can't Post

Clench, so traveling isn't worth it for the open house in any case (even if you're in)? Also, I haven't been to NYC since I was 9. Oh, and my parents are coincidentally going to be there for business on the open house date. The stars just seemed so aligned.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 3, 2007, 10:19 AM

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In Reply To
Clench, so traveling isn't worth it for the open house in any case (even if you're in)? Also, I haven't been to NYC since I was 9. Oh, and my parents are coincidentally going to be there for business on the open house date. The stars just seemed so aligned.


Well check it out then. I went to the open house for similar reasons (had friends in the city, hadn't visited in a while and it seemed like a good time) and I dont' regret it. The open house was fine and like I said, you can talk to people before hand and try to sit in on a class and meet with some current students to make it really worth it.

I was only saying I wouldn't advise buying a plane ticket to fly out to just go to the open house. It isn't anything you need to go to.


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Apr 3, 2007, 3:14 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] New Columbians? Can't Post

Since I'm the one who bought the plane ticket, allow me to remove ambiguity. I wouldn't buy a plane ticket to come to open house either, and the purpose of my weekend is to spend a few passing days with a charming girl I met here in Chicago on St. Patty's Day, who happens to live in New York. So now you guys know my secret. Unfortunately, I had to change to weekend to the 20th to the 22nd, so I won't even be able to go to open house. Clench, you have any suggestions for a soon to be SoA student on an off weekend? Anna told me Columbia doesn't have Friday classes this semester, so that's out. Anything else of worth I might indulge myself with?



In Reply To

In Reply To
Clench, so traveling isn't worth it for the open house in any case (even if you're in)? Also, I haven't been to NYC since I was 9. Oh, and my parents are coincidentally going to be there for business on the open house date. The stars just seemed so aligned.


Well check it out then. I went to the open house for similar reasons (had friends in the city, hadn't visited in a while and it seemed like a good time) and I dont' regret it. The open house was fine and like I said, you can talk to people before hand and try to sit in on a class and meet with some current students to make it really worth it.

I was only saying I wouldn't advise buying a plane ticket to fly out to just go to the open house. It isn't anything you need to go to.



jonathandavid



Apr 6, 2007, 10:13 PM

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Re: [jobieh] New Columbians? Can't Post

Clench, similar question to the other ones posed: does showing up for the open house make any difference if one has been waitlisted? Am wondering if it is part of the decision process for faculty/staff to get to know waitlisted candidates or if it is purely for the prospective student? Any thoughts?

Cheers--


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 7, 2007, 5:24 PM

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Re: [jonathandavid] New Columbians? Can't Post

Jobie: Whoops, I didn't notice anyone had said they were buying a plane ticket, that was just a hypothetical on my part. Obviously nyc is amazing and always worth a visit so no reason not to coincide one with the open house (and a charming girl).

As for coming on a Friday... yeah I'm not sure if there are any classes then. There may or may not be some kind of writing division activity at that time, but I really wouldn't know until closer to the date. Or are you just looking for interesting things to do in NYC?

JonathanDavid:

IIRC they didn't take attendance or anything when I went so I don't think the faculty evaluated anyone based on it. It was really just for prospective students to talk with faculty and get any questions answered that they had.

I don't have any inside knowledge on this, but my impression is that all MFA programs have a specific wait list order and you will either get in or not based on how many spots open up and how low you are on the order. I don't think going to an open house would raise your place on the waitlist order, but I can't say for sure.


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Apr 8, 2007, 2:38 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] New Columbians? Can't Post

Hey Clench. I'm pretty good on things to do in New York and was really just curious if you knew of any SoA events and what not. I've been checking the Daily Dish and haven't seen much of interest yet, but that will probably resolve itself by next Friday. We'll see. If you know of anything on Friday or Saturday then by all means, let me now. Thanks chief...

--Jobie


In Reply To
Jobie: Whoops, I didn't notice anyone had said they were buying a plane ticket, that was just a hypothetical on my part. Obviously nyc is amazing and always worth a visit so no reason not to coincide one with the open house (and a charming girl).

As for coming on a Friday... yeah I'm not sure if there are any classes then. There may or may not be some kind of writing division activity at that time, but I really wouldn't know until closer to the date. Or are you just looking for interesting things to do in NYC?

JonathanDavid:

IIRC they didn't take attendance or anything when I went so I don't think the faculty evaluated anyone based on it. It was really just for prospective students to talk with faculty and get any questions answered that they had.

I don't have any inside knowledge on this, but my impression is that all MFA programs have a specific wait list order and you will either get in or not based on how many spots open up and how low you are on the order. I don't think going to an open house would raise your place on the waitlist order, but I can't say for sure.



(This post was edited by jobieh on Apr 8, 2007, 2:39 PM)


Windiciti



Apr 8, 2007, 3:04 PM

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Re: [Arkinese] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Why be "euphemistic?"
Bluntness is more helpful in these cases.

I am a very talented individual, and ALSO a Latina.
But, I suspect that being Latina,(athough with an Italian surname by marriage), helped me at times.

However, I had an African American boss who felt I was very talented, but thought that every honour, every internship, I gathered were solely due to this fact, and I disagreed with him.


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Apr 9, 2007, 9:26 AM

Post #159 of 430 (6723 views)
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Re: [Windiciti] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Congrats, I guess. Not really sure what to say to that. There's a lot to be said for modesty.



In Reply To
Why be "euphemistic?"
Bluntness is more helpful in these cases.

I am a very talented individual, and ALSO a Latina.
But, I suspect that being Latina,(athough with an Italian surname by marriage), helped me at times.

However, I had an African American boss who felt I was very talented, but thought that every honour, every internship, I gathered were solely due to this fact, and I disagreed with him.



Windiciti



Apr 9, 2007, 9:53 AM

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Re: [jobieh] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

I'm sorry I wrote that. Not that it isn't true, at least for me, but it is inconsequential.

My shoulder was aching, my writing was not turning out----in short, I was in a bad mood, I and was looking for something to distract me. I hadn't looked at the Forum for ages and that little bit caught my eye. So please forgive.

BTW I wish you luck with Columbia, since you seem to want it soo much.


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Apr 9, 2007, 11:29 AM

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Re: [Windiciti] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Eh, we're writers. We're all given to bouts of turbulence. If you weren't I might have a tough time taking you serious. ha. Anyways, thanks for the good luck wishes with Columbia. I'm excited to get there, though they can take their funding situation and shove it right up their ________. Feel free to add your own appropriate word.

--Jobie



In Reply To
I'm sorry I wrote that. Not that it isn't true, at least for me, but it is inconsequential.

My shoulder was aching, my writing was not turning out----in short, I was in a bad mood, I and was looking for something to distract me. I hadn't looked at the Forum for ages and that little bit caught my eye. So please forgive.

BTW I wish you luck with Columbia, since you seem to want it soo much.



Windiciti



Apr 9, 2007, 11:50 AM

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Re: [jobieh] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

What I didn't say---in spite of favouring bluntness when at all possible --- is that IMO the tuition debt that Columbia and a few other schools dare to impose on you is outrageous!
But, your heart seems set on going there, and the more financially "sensible" choices don't seem to do it for you.
However, as an old veteran of debt, I've screwed up numerous times and "recovered" with my husband's help, and a FT job, but cannot do it ever again, I would look for some other institution. One that didn't require such an absurd financial investment from which there is little chance of recovery. It's not medical school, after all.


jobieh
Jobie Hughes

Apr 9, 2007, 12:57 PM

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Re: [Windiciti] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Very valid points. I am, however, crazy, quixotic, and possess delusional levels of grandeur and genius. But hey, maybe it takes a dose of all of those to try to become a writer in the first place. Sure, the chance for success in this field is dismal at best, though I'm sure all of us believe we are going to skew the averages and hit it big. I know I certainly do. And, well, writers are impractical by nature. And really, who wants to own a home and new cars and have nice things anyways? And in closing, I think it is imperative to know one's past, one's values, to truly understand why they desire to attend a school that places unrealistic levels of debt on it's students shoulders, though none of us really know a thing of the others here. My two cents for what it's worth, which is probably shit...

--Jobie



In Reply To
What I didn't say---in spite of favouring bluntness when at all possible --- is that IMO the tuition debt that Columbia and a few other schools dare to impose on you is outrageous!
But, your heart seems set on going there, and the more financially "sensible" choices don't seem to do it for you.
However, as an old veteran of debt, I've screwed up numerous times and "recovered" with my husband's help, and a FT job, but cannot do it ever again, I would look for some other institution. One that didn't require such an absurd financial investment from which there is little chance of recovery. It's not medical school, after all.



Windiciti



Apr 9, 2007, 6:31 PM

Post #164 of 430 (6634 views)
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Re: [jobieh] Literary Reponse? Can't Post

Your two cants are evrything---'tis about YOU after all.
Good Luck!


tinatala


Apr 13, 2007, 1:01 PM

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Re: [vitadimanche] Columbia Can't Post

Hey, I just discovered this site through a friend, and I have a huge question. I'm sorry it's such a tangential question, but it's been on my mind for a while.

Does anyone know if Columbia's Writing MFA program offers courses in Screenwriting? From my research, the Screenwriting courses in the Film department are only for their own students, and I'd really like to take Screenwriting courses in addition to Fiction courses.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 13, 2007, 2:28 PM

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Re: [tinatala] Columbia Can't Post


In Reply To
Hey, I just discovered this site through a friend, and I have a huge question. I'm sorry it's such a tangential question, but it's been on my mind for a while.

Does anyone know if Columbia's Writing MFA program offers courses in Screenwriting? From my research, the Screenwriting courses in the Film department are only for their own students, and I'd really like to take Screenwriting courses in addition to Fiction courses.


Some friends of mine took screenwriting classes this year. Off hand I'm not sure the logistics of it (if they were Film MFA classes or undergrad classes or special SOA classes open to all SOA divisions, but you can take some. Normally any SOA class that isn't something like a workshop can be taken by any other SOA student.


tinatala


Apr 13, 2007, 4:12 PM

Post #167 of 430 (6521 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia Can't Post

Thanks for the reply! It helps immensely!


lovesapricots


Mar 13, 2008, 7:37 PM

Post #168 of 430 (6371 views)
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Columbia, again Can't Post

Hi,

I don't want to stir up the Columbia/funding debate again, but I am curious: would anyone who is planning to attend Columbia next year be willing to share how they are thinking of funding it?

I have some funding from them, but not enough to make it feasible. I'm trying to think of creative solutions to the funding issue, and I'm really curious to talk to other people who are thinking of making the plunge.

Just to be clear: I don't have any outside help/savings/other resources at my disposal. I'm also not wedded to the program, even though I think it's fantastic. If I can't make the funding something a little less scary, it's just not happening. I don't want to chance it on a hard to get TAship or some slight possibility of a research assistantship.

It's frustrating as hell. Anyone else trying to make the same decision?


coreo


Mar 13, 2008, 7:40 PM

Post #169 of 430 (6366 views)
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Waitlist? Can't Post

    Does anyone know if Columbia has notified everyone yet? I know in past years they've had a waitlist... has anyone been waitlisted this year?


amandadeleted


Mar 13, 2008, 8:50 PM

Post #170 of 430 (6336 views)
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Re: [lovesapricots] Columbia, again Can't Post

Hi, lovesapricots. I'm considering Columbia too, and I'm also worried about funding. When I talked to Ben Marcus, he made a big deal about how they're offering more money than ever before to accepted students (and second-year students), and how they're really trying to beef up their financial aid. I'm still waiting to get the official packet, but as far as I know, I have a 1/2 tuition scholarship which is good for both years. The only way that I can go is by taking out loans for the other 1/2, which would be tough to swallow considering that I'm finishing undergrad with some (not a huge amount, but some) debt. I guess I'd be interested to hear whether people have successfully negotiated with Columbia (or other schools, for that matter) for more money. I mean, does anyone at Columbia get fully funded? Or even close to fully funded?

I guess, in conclusion, we're in the same boat. I'm interested to hear what other people are thinking as well.


hackofalltrades


Mar 14, 2008, 5:32 PM

Post #171 of 430 (6259 views)
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Re: [amandadeleted] Columbia, again Can't Post

lovesapricots & amandadeleted: I'm in the same boat--chuffed to be in at Columbia, but with too little money to say yes unreservedly. I've only heard apocryphal stories about people getting full funding; the best seems to be 1/2, but with next year's tuition almost certain to pass $39,000, even 1/2 leaves (obviously) a tremendous burden. Urgh.

Since we're broaching the taboo of dissecting funding offers anyway, I'm wondering if anyone else had the same experience when they were called: after the initial hello, you're in, huzzah!, etc., I was very straightforwardly told: 1) Columbia is expensive (no duh), 2) my package is small (again, no duh), and 3) more funding usually opens up (I assume, when people reject their offers), and I'm earmarked and may get a better package. No guarantees, but the professor seemed pretty cheerful about it and, again, volunteered the information. Is this a common practice? And should I be holding my breath? And why couldn't they just have given me more to begin with?!

Though I'd want more, I'd go if they upped my package to 1/2 tuition. I've been in New York since college, so I'm already settled. I have some savings and can support myself on freelance work during the year, and I assume that I'll find more work during the summers to chip in some more. All told, I think I can swing $15,000 of my own money over the next two years... which, to clarify, is a crapload of money for me and represents some serious sacrifices for the next 4-5 years. And though I wince typing this, I will probably have some "family support." My parents are in a position where they can and are happy to help, and I don't have it in me to refuse the help.

Basically, if I can graduate with a debt load under $15,000, I'll go. But right now, it doesn't look good.


kijordan


Mar 15, 2008, 1:17 PM

Post #172 of 430 (6179 views)
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Re: [hackofalltrades] Columbia, again Can't Post

To the two above who were accepted to Columbia, may I ask which division ? You mention Ben Marcus, so I assume fiction, but since he's the Chair, I suppose it could be poetry as well.

I ask because I'm intrigued by your knowledge of your financial "packages" already. I was accepted Tuesday (Mar 11th) to the Poetry program and I spoke with Josh Bell for a bit about tuition. He, too, gave me those stock lines about how steep the cost is (and with good humor, I should add!), but he mentioned that he wouldn't know how much money would be allotted for another six weeks. Does this automatically mean I wasn't considered for these more prestigious scholarships (of $12,500/yr) ? Or do such things function differently based on division ? That is, could the fiction division know how much money it has before the poetry division does, or, more logically, does the blanket heading, Writing, cover both programs singly ? And am I totally ridiculous for asking you questions that might be too specialized for an applicant/accepted-student to answer ?

Thanks ! And I'll see you in the fall ?

Khira


amandadeleted


Mar 16, 2008, 2:01 AM

Post #173 of 430 (6111 views)
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Re: [kijordan] Columbia, again Can't Post

I wish I knew more about the funding distribution too. I was accepted for fiction, and he sounded pretty certain about the funding offer. He told me to expect a financial aid packet soon, and I'm still waiting to receive it. I really hope it comes soon, because I want some hard numbers. I remember someone saying that tuition was going to be almost $40,000 next year. That's crazy!

Does anyone have a cost of living estimate? Do students actually manage to live in Manhattan?


hackofalltrades


Mar 17, 2008, 10:31 AM

Post #174 of 430 (6028 views)
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Re: [kijordan] Columbia, again Can't Post

Khira, I'm in for poetry. My understanding is that you are apprised of your guaranteed financial aid package when you're called, but that there is a possibility of your funding increasing.

It's weird that Josh Bell couldn't tell you how much you would be offered. Usually, if a student isn't allotted an aid package, they're simply told that they weren't guaranteed any funding, and that's that, but your situation sounds much more vague. Could you email him and ask him to clarify? Especially since, in six weeks, your acceptance deadline for other schools will have likely passed.

But I'm also curious about whether or not genre-specific programs are funded differently somehow, because I was very surprised at being told that more money might open up in late April, which seems like a similar situation to yours, and we are both poetry folks...


hackofalltrades


Mar 17, 2008, 10:58 AM

Post #175 of 430 (6009 views)
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Re: [amandadeleted] Columbia, again Can't Post

2007-2008 tuition was $38,812, not counting various fees, so it's a safe bet that next year will top $40,000.

The Columbia website quotes $20,000 for nine months' of living expenses, which I think is a little absurd. My living expenses in the city come out to $20,300 for a full year (so about $15,225 for nine months), and I'm certainly not slumming it.

You can definitely live on $20K during the school year in Manhattan, as long as you have a modicum of financial sense. But the commute from Brooklyn won't kill you--at least, I hope not, because that's what I would be doing.


upsetme


Mar 17, 2008, 4:55 PM

Post #176 of 430 (7500 views)
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Re: [hackofalltrades] Columbia, again Can't Post

I'm in the same boat as everyone here ...

Has anyone gotten a formal acceptance package or word on the accepted student days -- when we can sit in on class, et cetera?

Has anyone been able to get better funding then they were initially offered?


jeramey



Mar 17, 2008, 10:33 PM

Post #177 of 430 (7438 views)
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Re: [upsetme] Columbia, again Can't Post

To everyone waiting on packets, I visited the school a few days ago and they were in the process of putting the packets together to be sent off (double checking names and addresses and that sort of thing). They said they were hoping to get them sent off this week.


(This post was edited by jeramey on Mar 17, 2008, 10:36 PM)


ksy79


Mar 17, 2008, 11:06 PM

Post #178 of 430 (7420 views)
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Re: [jeramey] Columbia, again Can't Post

thanks for the update, jeramey. i called today to bug someone in student affairs about funding and info. david beeman offered to email me whatever is email-able. i'm guessing it's because he could tell that this whole ordeal has turned me into a bit of a, um, spaz, and he was being kind.

i just read this thread from the beginning, and my head is spinning. i was on such a high when i got accepted, but the beating columbia takes on the blogs has put a damper on all of that good feeling. and the lack of funding really does make me feel like columbia doesn't care if i accept their offer or not.

see? total spaz.


kijordan


Mar 19, 2008, 1:10 PM

Post #179 of 430 (7327 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Columbia, again Can't Post

Wow ! Wow, ksy79 ! I've had precisely the same feeling. I was running around my apartment and hopping up and down for hours when I got the call. At first, I was so certain I'd go. Then I did a little more investigating and became deeply discouraged and conflicted. I still might not go because of the funding and, well, the general ire the school seems to draw from the writing community.

And I definitely know what you mean when you say it seems, due to the miserly funding, like the school doesn't care whether you decline or accept their offer. They've got quite a big list of waiters and the lecturers who call us are instructed to be unattractively tight-lipped about money, which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be read as "wooing," which is what I thought recruiterish telephoners were traditionally meant to do.

Ugh.

By the way, are you fiction or poetry ?


lovesapricots


Mar 19, 2008, 2:32 PM

Post #180 of 430 (7292 views)
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Re: [kijordan] Columbia, again Can't Post

Same feeling here as well. If there is anyone out there thinking about nonfiction and Columbia, please PM me! I think it's especially tough to turn down nonfiction at Columbia because it is such a strong department, and the course range for nonfiction is much wider there than other schools. But it's hard to get past the funding issue. I'm trying to decide between Columbia and a fantastic offer from Ohio State. I have to say OSU has been wonderful, welcoming and incredibly friendly from the get-go. I've been wanting to go to Columbia for a long time, but after doing the math--and visiting OSU--I'm thinking sometimes plans change!


ksy79


Mar 19, 2008, 3:21 PM

Post #181 of 430 (7259 views)
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Re: [lovesapricots] Columbia, again Can't Post

hi lovesapricots and kijordan,

so i'm really trying to let go of my ego and resentment. i think i've been paying way too much attention to things like acceptance rates and rankings--and columbia's decline in both of these areas. i thought "well, how much does getting into columbia mean anymore?"

i kind of lost sight of what i really need from a program. the mfa should be about two things: opening doors and getting time to write. despite the bad rap it's been getting lately, i still believe columbia has so much to offer. i will be challenged; i will have access to the new york writing community; i will have a degree from f'ing columbia.

would i like to be fully funded at brown or cornell? of course. but they didn't accept me, and i have a great opportunity.

oh, and i'm in fiction.


shireen


Mar 19, 2008, 3:52 PM

Post #182 of 430 (7230 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Columbia, again Can't Post

ksy79, I could not agree more.

I'm so so thrilled about my poetry acceptance, and the faculty members that I've spoken with have been nothing but open and honest about the funding situation, promising to do what they can in the coming months.

Regardless of whether I end up with funding, I don't think I could turn down the offer... the CA/T program, elective offerings, location, the faculty, the NAME...! I think basing this decision solely on funding would be careless on my part, though one could certainly argue convincingly from the other side.


h orange


Mar 19, 2008, 4:00 PM

Post #183 of 430 (7220 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Columbia, again Can't Post

I completely agree. I don't worry too much about the bad rap among the blog set, b/c from what i've heard, the literary world at large still thinks highly of columbia.

i also think that the rankings perpetuate this idea that people get into these programs based on some objective measure of how good they are. we all "know" this isn't true, and the rankings can be useful, but it's still hard not to let it affect your ego. but different programs look for different things, and after going through this process, I've realized that I applied to a lot of programs that just weren't a good match for me. I think my writing falls into a too-weird-for-michigan-not-experimental-enough-for-brown middle ground, which I think makes me a good fit for columbia.

in any event, i'm excited for columbia! yay!


ksy79


Mar 19, 2008, 4:08 PM

Post #184 of 430 (7213 views)
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Re: [h orange] Columbia, again Can't Post

shireen, h orange, kijordan,

you guys have made my day! i am back to being excited about columbia. btw, i visited the campus last week (i'm in nyc), and i fell in love. it's unreal. have any of you been in touch with students yet?


ksy79


Mar 19, 2008, 4:10 PM

Post #185 of 430 (7211 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Columbia, again Can't Post

you too, lovesapricots!


h orange


Mar 19, 2008, 5:08 PM

Post #186 of 430 (7173 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Columbia, again Can't Post

Has anyone received their acceptance letter/packet yet? I'm guessing no, but ... I just want it!


LauraJean1


Mar 19, 2008, 5:43 PM

Post #187 of 430 (7158 views)
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Re: [h orange] Columbia, again Can't Post

I was accepted in Fiction at Columbia a few weeks ago and I haven't received my packet yet either.

That said, I want to address a lot of people's concerns about the quality of Columbia's program / is it worth it in light of all the negative buzz on blogs, etc.

From what I have learned, something that sets the Columbia program apart from many other MFAs is that students take more classes in addition to workshops than other places. For me, this is a plus because I believe that learning about the world is nearly the best thing a person can do to improve their writing.

Also, most of the gripes that revolve around Columbia are this: they are insular, they publish their friends, they help their students get contacts in the publishing world, etc. This complaint is usually lodged from people who say that writing should be pure, and it should only matter how good writing is, and not who wrote it.

While this is a lofty ideal to aspire to, I have no knowledge of anything in life that works this way. Including OTHER MFA PROGRAMS. It matters who you know. Period. It has ALWAYS matter who you know. Once you are fortunate to be deemed "above average" whether in business aptitude, writing, or what not, the main thing that will differentiate you from a million anonymous faces is who your contacts are. It ain't fair. But that's how it is.

For me, going to grad school means an opportunity to focus exclusively on writing, and make the "contacts" that I need to not be a boring-ass cover letter in a pile of submissions.

As for the money -- it is expensive. So freaking expensive. But I was thinking about it, and if I don't go to grad school, I'm going to be working and writing in my spare time. If I do go to grad school, afterwards I'll probably be working and writing in my spare time (to pay off debt). But at least I will have had those two years of concentrated time, that booster shot, with those contacts. I may not be able to own a house for decades, but I will have spent a part (and hopefully it will turn into all of my life) doing exactly what I love. Debt be damned.

I have been through that same yo-yo about Columbia. Are they out of favor? Are they in favor? Who cares! You're in New York, doing what you love, on the tails of writers at a school where Pulitzer Prize winners have recently tread. Your MFA, where ever you go, will be what you make of it anyway.

That is all.


ksy79


Mar 20, 2008, 9:39 AM

Post #188 of 430 (7089 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Columbia, again Can't Post

That is all, LauraJean1. Thanks for that.


LauraJean1


Mar 20, 2008, 11:50 AM

Post #189 of 430 (7061 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Columbia, again Can't Post

Now you've seen my post about YAY Columbia, and then shortly thereafter, my post about choosing between SLC and Columbia.

This is because I received my SLC packet in the mail yesterday saying yay, acceptance!

But then my brain got wonky because I had been operating as though Columbia was the place. Now I have to choose between there and another great program.

One thing I saw on these message boards was that SLC is not so hot for commuting on foot or by public transportation. My husband-to-be and I are planning on selling our cars before we head to New York (and trying to figure out if it is worth it to keep our bikes). We both commute to work by bike right now, and I'd really like to be able to walk, bike, or public transport it.

I applied to SLC because Melvin Jules Bukiet was there (who is also an Alum of the Columbia program) and I applied to Columbia because its, well, Columbia. They have a unique program. I like that it is affiliated with the Arts school and not just and English department, etc. etc.

That said, I'm dying to get my freakin' Columbia packet in the mail so I can comb through both their literature and SLC's and figure out what I want to do. The fact that SLC is cheaper is enticing, and that Bukiet is there is awesome, but I'm still starry-eyed over Columbia. Ah! What to do!!


umass76


Mar 20, 2008, 1:58 PM

Post #190 of 430 (7003 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Columbia, again Can't Post

LJ1 (and all),

Congratulations on your acceptances. The one thing I would say, however, is "debt be damned" is not the most responsible advice to give to younger applicants--or, really, anyone. I don't know that folks with substantial student loan debt ever say "debt be damned." I have $120,000 in outstanding law school debt (roughly commensurate with the $100,000 in debt Columbia would set an applicant back) and it affects one's life negatively, period. Debt is not something that can be dismissed. Especially when you consider that the average debt of, say, a graduate from the University of Florida is

$0

Columbia is an outstanding school, but the times are no longer than any MFA program can claim to be worth $100,000 more to a student than any another, and certainly Columbia can't make that claim on the nearly two dozen top-ranked schools with full funding: Cornell, Virginia, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin, Alabama, Vanderbilt, LSU, Minnesota, Oregon, Ohio State, Syracuse, Arizona State, Johns Hopkins, Penn State, California at Irvine, and Brown. Or the schools that offer full funding to nearly everyone (75%+): Houston, Washington University, Illinois, McNeese State, Iowa, UNLV, Southern Illinois, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, West Virginia, Florida State, Georgia College & State, Wichita State, and VCU. Of all those (36) schools, thirteen currently poll better than Columbia in terms of popularity among applicants (a poll taken 2007-8, and including now 300 individual respondents). Those schools are: Cornell, Virginia, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Oregon, Syracuse, Iowa, Johns Hopkins, California at Irvine, and Brown. Five additional schools (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Houston, Washington University, and Ohio State) are within ten spots of Columbia in the polling (Columbia is #16, and these others are between #17 and #25 nationally).

I mention all this not to rain on anyone's parade, but for the more personal reason that I've suffered under the load of staggering debt--for years now--and I don't want any twenty-something applicant who reads this board making the decision to follow that path lightly. Columbia's a nice experience. There are a few dozen other nice experiences out there, too, and many won't set the beginning of your adult financial life back ten to fifteen years. I just think that's worth keeping in mind; I have no doubt that anyone who chooses to go to Columbia despite such warnings will nevertheless have a fantastic time, and likely not regret it whatsoever (except financially).

Please don't shoot the messenger. I'm only trying to be helpful, and do sincerely congratulate all who were accepted by Columbia.

Best,
Seth


umass76


Mar 20, 2008, 2:16 PM

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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

I posted a follow-up to the above, which then was lost accidentally.

I just wanted to dispel, also, the myth, repeated in this thread, that the current rankings devalue Columbia solely because of its poor funding. That's not entirely true; while I have no doubt (quite honestly) that those who were accepted to Columbia on this board are fantastic writers one and all, generally it can no longer be said that Columbia is getting the cream of the crop in terms of its admissions cohort, as the school currently ranks 32nd in selectivity among MFA programs (and perhaps even below that, as not every top fifty MFA program has revealed its acceptance rate; current trends project that, when all the data is in, Columbia will barely crack the top fifty in the selectivity measure, at somewhere around 45th). Also, while it's true Columbia has an excellent reputation in the publishing field, so do a few dozen other schools, and I worry that folks are basing their reputation assessments in part on a now-more-than-a-decade-old ranking by U.S. News and World Report. 60 MFA programs--more than 25% of the national total--have been started up over the last twelve years (i.e. since the USN&WR ranking), and countless others have leapt in the rankings due to increased funding and/or better faculty, so it's unwise to simply rely on what a few MFA professors told a magazine in 1996 for such a crucial decision. That Columbia has a great reputation is unquestioned; that other schools have an equally good reputation, and other schools beyond that nearly as good a reputation, is also, I think, unquestioned now (and I don't just mean Iowa).


(This post was edited by umass76 on Mar 20, 2008, 2:18 PM)


ksy79


Mar 20, 2008, 2:24 PM

Post #192 of 430 (6970 views)
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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

Hi Seth,

First off, I really appreciate all of the work you and Tom have done for MFA applicants. This response is not a shot aimed at you, the messenger. It's just that most of us on this thread have already heard your message. I don't think LJ1 was saying, "Debt be damned." I think she was saying if you've weighed all of your options and have decided to shoulder the costs, then it is okay to be excited about Columbia.

Personally, I would love to be able to go to Cornell or Irvine or UFL or even Brooklyn. But I was not accepted to any of those programs. I've taken all of your advice to heart (maybe too much), and I still want to go to Columbia (well, maybe. Depends on what FSU has to say). More importantly, I want to be excited about my choice and focus on what's good about the program. I think that was the point to the "Yay, Columbia" turn this thread has taken.


ksy79


Mar 20, 2008, 3:03 PM

Post #193 of 430 (6931 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Columbia, again Can't Post

Oh, and LJ1, I sent you a PM re. Columbia v. SLC, since I think we're the only ones deciding between the two.


LauraJean1


Mar 20, 2008, 4:55 PM

Post #194 of 430 (6889 views)
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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

Up front: This is not a kill the messenger response.

I think that your points are 100% valid. And I completely admit that my post came off as rather like a manifesto.

I agree that no 20-somethings should be headed into debt for the first time or the second time or third time without thinking about it very, very, very carefully. For people who have had jobs out in the world, this careful consideration is also mediated by a "what am I willing to do/sacrifice" mentality. In my case, I have been working at a job and writing in my spare time for a while. As I'll likely be doing that again in three years, but this time with [time at Columbia] or [time at Sarah Lawrence] behind me, I will, theoretically, have more contacts in the writing world than I did before (I already do, upon acceptance) and a deeper body of work under my belt.

I am also no stranger to debt. I'm marrying a man who comes with a considerable amount of education debt. He doesn't regret it for a day, however, because if he had not gone to the programs he attended (in graphic design), he wouldn't have the network, the experience, the portfolio, and awesome job, that he now has. The fact is that if you grow up very poor in a rural area of the south with very poor friends, and your parents have very poor friends, you're not exactly going to get a spectacular boost in the world from your network. This has been true for him, as it is for me. School has been invaluable to him, as I expect it will be for me. I understand that an MFA is not one of those "you'll get a great job!" degrees. I expect it will be what I make of it, plus some chance, good/bad decisions, and the mess of everything else that goes into it.

As a prospective MFA student, I have followed your blog attentively, and the research you have compiled there is a fantastic resource. I didn't apply to many of the schools you have mentioned because of different reasons (for example, and if I remember correctly, programs like Wisconsin and Texas require that you have undergraduate credits in English. I was a linguistics student in undergrad and all the literature classes I took were in German and Russian. I had zero English credits.), chief among these reasons was the location of many of the schools, or personal preference.

At this point, that is not very relevant though. I think that there is an odd tendency for a lot of the MFA-blogs to participate in a great deal of Columbia-bashing, even though (as these blogs have stated), the funding problem at Columbia has mostly to do with the University's administration and not the staff or directors of the School of the Arts. We get it, Columbia is expensive. So, so, so, very expensive. There is also Columbia-bashing because they are not as selective as many other schools. This is an interesting thing to me, since Columbia is still considered to produce good writers, some even exceptional. Their greater entrant pool could also be looked at positively, that they are giving themselves the chance to find a diamond in the rough now and then. When criticizing their ranking, would you go so far as to say that MFA students at Columbia are unequivocally worse than students at other comparable schools?

I think that for people like me, and the others in this forum who are having a hard time deciding on Columbia or somewhere else, it has become very hard to see through the blog and forum noise. It is hard to figure out if a serendipitous event (acceptance!) is not what it seems. The constant bad-mouthing of Columbia begins to take its toll, however mediated by slight "oh it is still a good program....BUT" comments.

Lastly, I think my original post came out of an enthusiasm for figuring out what to do, and owning my decision. If I go to Columbia, I know full well what kind of a rat's nest I'm getting myself into (debt). An MFA for me (and I hope for most?) is not just "time to write" or "time to not be working" or "time to figure out what I want to do". If it were, I would be much more cautious about taking on debt. The fact is that I know how to support myself, and do so successfully. For me, an MFA is a booster shot to change the direction of my career toward supporting myself with my fiction. I know this is what nearly everyone in MFA programs wants to do, but that doesn't make it anymore unique to my own experience.

Students who choose to go to Columbia shouldn't have to endure sentiments of people telling them they are foolish for their decisions. Like you have said yourself, no one can say what debt feels like who has not had debt. The students at Columbia know exactly what it feels like to stare at their bills. Students at Columbia should also not be subjected to ridicule or derogatory comments because their school has a larger acceptance pool than other schools. I understand the logic behind this, but what matters most is what they are writing, whether the school has a history of producing students who publish, whether the school can offer the professional network that many writers need to become someone that isn't an anonymous above-average or exceptional no-name.

I guess it comes down to what a person's priorities are, what they are hoping to get from an MFA, and what they are willing to live with to have that.


umass76


Mar 20, 2008, 7:37 PM

Post #195 of 430 (6839 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Columbia, again Can't Post

KSY79 & LJ1,

I do appreciate your thoughtful responses. I (and others) continue posting comments (such as mine above) on Columbia from time to time, not to bash admitted applicants, denigrate their valuation of Columbia, or suggest they won't ultimately be happy with the decision (as I'm sure at least some will), but rather because this board is read not just by those already well-exposed to the various MFA web-logs (including mine), but also newcomers to online MFA information sites. It tends to be the case (and I hope you'll agree this is merely a logically-based occurrence, and not one intended to disparage anyone) that the Columbia boards tend to have a slightly higher percentage of folks on them who have not done online research into MFA programs. [Again, it simply fits, as to the extent a percentage of those who do online research will be swayed away from Columbia--and in the interest of full disclosure, I'm one of those people; Columbia was my top-choice school (yes, over Iowa) before I started researching programs online--those still very much considering Columbia are slightly less likely to have done substantial online research. By the same token, I imagine those who applied to, say, Notre Dame or Illinois or Vanderbilt--current online information-site darlings--are slightly more likely to have done substantial online research]. It's for this reason that, redundant as it may be, it's still useful for the cynics among us (such as myself) to on occasion offer what we (and perhaps not others) view as a sort of finances-/selectivity-based "reality-check" on the Columbia boards, not for older or more experienced applicants, or even for applicants who've already done significant online research and made the decision to apply to Columbia anyway, but for the 21 year-old applicant who applied with minimal research, got into (say) both Columbia and Minnesota, and is now considering going to Columbia because in 1996 Minnesota was not a highly-ranked program, and unless you've read it online you don't know that the current conventional wisdom says "don't pay for an MFA, period." [Or, such comments might be useful, say, to those who only applied to NYC-area schools, didn't get into any, and now plan on reapplying to all the same schools next year, only to (perhaps) discover when their dreams finally come true next year or the year after that they can't afford those long-awaited dreams. Witness the heart-breaking comments, on this board, by all those who got into Pitt and can't afford to go, and who openly opine now that they wish they'd read about Pitt's funding situation on-line beforehand]. So my comments were really directed to those posters, and not to any other group or person. I agree with what's been said here, that ultimately you have to go where you're excited to go. If you're not excited to go somewhere, that's a bad start to a two- or three-year experience.

Best,
Seth


wardis


Mar 20, 2008, 9:58 PM

Post #196 of 430 (6785 views)
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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

Hi Seth,

A few weeks ago I posted this question on your blog and got no response, perhaps because I posted it under the wrong topic and you simply didn't see it or maybe because you didn't want to divulge the methodology of your rankings, which I completely understand. In fact, if you'd rather not address this issue until your "funding-only" rankings come out, I certainly understand: but since you were just talking about the issue of funding, I thought I'd ask it again:

How are you going to factor the "size" of a program into your funding-only rankings?

Here's why I ask: It seems to me that the funding-only rankings will inevitably favor those smaller programs that can afford to fund all of their students generously (Texas, Cornell, Wisconsin, etc), and overlook those larger programs that have great funding but may not be able to completely fund every student simply because of their size. The reason this is worrisome to me is that I think it reinforces the idea that smaller programs are somehow more generous or supportive than larger programs when in fact this is not always true. More to the point, it seems to suggest that the new model for an ideal MFA Program is small and fully funded, when in fact there are many disadvantages that go along with attending a smaller progra,, as I know friends who have attended them.

I don't want to get into a debate about the advantages and disadvantages of small and large programs. I simply wanted to say that it seems like there should probably be a separate ranking for small and large programs. It seems unfair, for example, to rank a program like Houston in the same category as a program like Texas. Texas, after all, is a very small program that can fund all of their students very generously because of their size. Houston, on the other han,, is a much larger program that has to fund not only MFA students, but also Ph.D. students. As it turns out, Houston is a very well endowed program that funds its students very generously given its size, but it might not necessarily appear that way on a list in which "fully funded" programs are given the highest rankings. Similarly, it seems unfair to rank a large program like Iowa in the same category as a tiny program like Cornell. Certainly Iowa could afford to fund all of their students very generously if they chose to cut down their incoming class to four fiction writers and four poets, but then something about the community and the experience at Iowa would be lost, wouldn’t it?

In short, it seems that programs like Houston and Iowa, which are well endowed and very generous given their size, should be compared to other large programs like Arizona and Columbia, and small programs like Cornell and Texas should be compared to other small programs like Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins. Otherwise, I can see a troublesome trend emerging, one that inevitably favors small programs over large.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this issue, Seth, though I completely understand if you'd rather wait until your rankings come out. Apologies to the rest of you, as I realize that this issue only relates to Columbia in a tangential way.


(This post was edited by wardis on Mar 20, 2008, 10:08 PM)


umass76


Mar 20, 2008, 11:58 PM

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Re: [wardis] Columbia, again Can't Post

Hi Wardis,

Unfortunately I did miss your comment--sorry about that (NB: my in-box gets about fifty messages/day that are just comments from the blog, and sometimes I miss reading a few of them by accident). This is a good question and one I'm actually happy to answer.

The answer is that it's a question of who the rankings are intended for. The concern you've raised suggests, if we break it down, one way of looking at funding rankings, which is that the rankings are intended for the benefit of the programs, and so being "fair" to individual programs is of paramount importance. Under that rubric, you're absolutely right, we'd have to take into account an endless series of factors, many of which we'd have no way of knowing (largely because the very programs we were trying to be "fair" to had no interest whatsoever in divulging such information to us). For instance, a program-centric measure of funding would require not only information on the size of each program's entering class and the number of financial aid packages available, it would also--because "fairness" would be the byword of the analysis--require that we consider the endowment of the university or college, the efforts made by program administrators to secure additional lines of funding, trends in alumni giving, the availability of on-campus housing, cost of living comparisons, and so on.

The problem here, of course, is that it's not the programs that need the rankings, it's the applicants. It's not the programs who are lacking in information about, well, themselves--once again, it's the applicants. In fact one of the main reasons I started analyzing MFA programs using hard data was because I felt MFA programs were waging, purposefully or not, an asymmetrical brand of Information-Age warfare against their applicants. A war in which programs regularly had data they could release to students, but decided not to.

I tend to have less sympathy than others for the programs and their administrators, if only because I've scoured the websites of 200+ programs (literally) and have seen first-hand (and en masse) how intentionally misleading, disingenuous, vague, and sometimes downright confrontational these websites are (NB: Columbia happens to have one of the worst websites in this respect--which is fitting, given the bad news it otherwise would have to, in bold and unambiguous and apologetic terms, disclose to its prospective students). It shouldn't, actually, be hard to find out the stipend associated with a program's TAship offerings, but in fact--at most program websites--it's absolutely impossible (because the information isn't public), even though the programs have that data readily available. Some schools won't even tell you how many students they admit, and only 45 schools (of nearly 300) will reveal how many applications they receive, even though every single undergraduate institution in America does so annually. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: the general trend with MFA programs is to tell prospective applicants absolutely nothing the program doesn't want them to know. And since most programs want the students that are applying to them to know nothing--judging simply from the various programs' skeletal promotional materials--the students are told nothing, and many of them end up knowing nothing. Which, of course, is hardly their fault.

It's in this context, and against this backdrop, that I decided that the funding rankings had to be targeted at prospective students, not program administrators. And so I utilized Rawls' "veil of ignorance" philosophy, which says (in rough-and-tumble paraphrase) that if we're assessing a society's institutions, we want to judge them from the perspective of an unborn child who will be born into that society, but whose place in the society is as yet unknown. That way, we end up with the fairest assessment, because the assessment is unbiased by knowledge of where any particular individual will be situated in the society whose institutions are to be judged.

So how does that apply here? Basically, it means that the funding rankings are targeted at the archetypal, anonymous, median student. In other words, the student who, having been accepted to a program, has a chance at funding at that program that represents the average chance for a random acceptee to that school. And what question would that archetypal, anonymous, median student ask? S/he would want to know the following: all things being equal, what percentage of students get funded at this program, and how much money (taking cost of living into account) does the average student receive? And that's the question the upcoming funding rankings will answer. Because truthfully, it's no consolation to the 85% of Pitt acceptees who don't get funding to say that, if only Pitt were smaller, they would have. Likewise, it doesn't cause even a flutter in the hearts of Cornell acceptees to be told that, hypothetically, if Cornell were larger they'd have half as much funding, or even less--because every one of those acceptees knew ex ante, when they applied to Cornell, that if they got in their funding was guaranteed, and was guaranteed at an exceedingly high level. What the funding rankings will tell applicants, then--and, importantly, will tell them before they apply to any school, so they can factor these calculations into their decisions on where to apply--is what the relative percentage chance is that they will get funding (and how much funding they will get) if they are admitted to the university or college they're considering applying to.

I'll have to leave it to someone else to compile a funding ranking targeted at programs, rather than students. That sort of ranking just doesn't seem very interesting--or useful, or needed--to me.

Hope this answers your question.

Best,

Seth


upsetme


Mar 21, 2008, 1:33 AM

Post #198 of 430 (6721 views)
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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

If I may In discussing Columbias shortfalls and merits, its foolhardy, Id say, to speak of the program as one Borg-like hole.
Theres a tectonic difference in the advantages, in my mind, depending on concentration. As a nonfiction student who wants to work in New York media Columbia even with the debt seems a no brainer.
Theres a special agreement between the MFA program and The New Yorker for interns. James Wood taught the criticism class last semester. The professor who called with my acceptance news I knew because Ive seen his byline in the New York Review of Books. Connections matter.
For someone with a newspaper background that wants to make the transition to magazines (like wait for it wait ready? The New Yorker OK, everyone laugh!) how does getting an education in that world not make sense?
If I was working on a book of poems, sure, Id consider amassing debt, but in a nonfiction case Columbia seems no different than picking up an expensive MBA at Harvard or law degree at Yale.
Now, you can always get an A+ law degree, become a PD, and bitch eternally about debt, but some people would have leveraged that a little differently = )


upsetme


Mar 21, 2008, 1:58 AM

Post #199 of 430 (6716 views)
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Re: [upsetme] Columbia, again Can't Post

One more thing (and I hope you know I'm just ribbing you above, Seth -- I respect and rely on your work) but Columbia was very upfront with me about the funding situation. I sat down with an admissions person before applying and she stressed again and again that even in the best case scenario, if I went to Columbia, and if I didn't have rich parents, I'd graduate with debt. She even apologized and said for years the school has lost many talented students because of the lack of funding. Reading these posts I get the sense that Columbia is in someway misleading prospective students about the funding situation. That hasn't been my experience at all.


lovesapricots


Mar 21, 2008, 9:03 AM

Post #200 of 430 (6692 views)
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Re: [upsetme] Columbia, again Can't Post

Hi all,

So I'm fall a bit in between. First of all, like upsetme, I'm nonfiction, and I think this does make a difference. I'm especially interested in literary nonfiction, which is sometimes a harder focus to find in departments. Columbia has classes in literary nonfiction (anyone seen the 20th Century Politics and Literary Nonfiction class this semester? That's the kind of thing I would love to take!) I know all three at strong at Columbia, but I think it has to be taken into consideration there are only around 30 nonfiction programs in the country (please correct me if I'm wrong on this). And Columbia has one of the greatest range in terms of faculty and coursework for nonfiction.

That being said, my attitude, for reasons both personal and financial, is not debt be damned. Personally, I believe it's funding is one important measure of school support for their students; financially i have a paycheck to paycheck job, no savings, and have no other form of support (husband, family member able to help offset cost, etc). That being said, I know other students who have gone to Columbia in similar situations and shouldered the debt. It's a choice I respect. I'm not sure if it's one I can make. I've done the math, and with a 20 year repayment plan, my debt would look something like $837 dollars a month. Thinking along the lines of upsetme--that there's a good market for nonfiction right now--I decided not to be cynical and figure out what sort of salary I'd have to have to be able to pay off that kind of debt. Factoring in rent, utilities, food, and pre-existing (but not massive) student loans, I'd have to be making 45K a year to be able to pay it off and still have something (read: almost nothing) to live on. Does 45K seem like a total unrealistic stretch for me at some point? Not at all! But I'd be damned happy to be making that kind of money, and I don't think I'll be making it in my first year or two out of grad school.

I've been going over this for a year. I almost went to Columbia last year, but had cold feet about the funding at the last minute. I applied to more programs this year, and Columbia again, in hopes the rumors of better funding were true. My funding from them increased, but not by enough. I'm in at 4 other programs, two with full funding and teaching assistantships. Do I love the program at Columbia? Absolutely. I'm thrilled and surprised and grateful to have options I'm trying to decide between. If I wanted to write first person memoir, I be still less inclined to accept at Columbia. What pulls me to Columbia, and NYC, are the opportunities for literary/narrative journalism.

I know it's not all number crunching, and sometimes you just have to go with your gut and your heart. But the numbers have helped me put things in perspective a little bit. I'm still not sure what to do, though. April 15th, take your time!

Good luck, everyone.


kijordan


Mar 21, 2008, 9:27 AM

Post #201 of 430 (8447 views)
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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

I'd just like to reiterate to you, Seth, that I appreciate your thoroughness, but I do think, having previously read the long thread on your blog about your seemingly unchecked scorn for Columbia, that sometimes you should have a little more tact. Presumably everyone on this thread has an understanding of the very real risks that enrolling in Columbia's MFA program presents--in fact, your response here falls right in the middle of a discussion a few of us were already having about the miserable funding. While I, a relatively committed realist, wouldn't accuse you of "raining on our parades," I do think it would serve you (and us!) well to spend a half-second longer judging whether it's tactful or not to suddenly surface and repeat what most of us know already. Yes, the doom is apparent; it's been described, ad nauseam. We're attempting to tackle it.


(This post was edited by kijordan on Mar 21, 2008, 9:30 AM)


aiyamei


Mar 21, 2008, 9:59 AM

Post #202 of 430 (8438 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Columbia, again Can't Post

I just wanted to say something to LauraJean and anyone else who might be weighing Columbia vs. some other school. In my interactions with agents, editors, and critics in New York, I've found an odd thing: they tend to regard the Columbia/NYU/New School MFA people as "our kids", and all other MFA people as hardly more desirable than any other random non-MFA schmuck (such as myself). The Columbia people truly have their fingers in all the publishing/media pies, and are very much insiders.

And you know, I don't think it is evidence of some nefarious conspiracy that the New York MFAers have such an inside advantage. I just think it's evidence of the fact that when you work as a gatekeeper, you're inundated constantly with far more stuff than you could ever hope to adequately evaluate -- it would take all your time, literally every second. So the gatekeepers gravitate toward work they have knowledge of naturally through other channels, and that's where being in the city comes in.

So go to the city! Go to Columbia! You'll be saddled with debt, but you are willing. The main thing is that you know what you're getting into and you are willing.

The only thing I'd advise a writer with more vigor than I'd advise going straight to New York for an MFA would be to go out into the world and find your stories through the hell of your own bizarre experiences and travails, and skip the MFA altogether. But that not being on the table at this point, the next best thing is to go to the big city and seek your fortune with the help and support of the ultimate insider's club for men and women of letters. I think that's worth a huge pile of money.


hackofalltrades


Mar 21, 2008, 12:39 PM

Post #203 of 430 (8380 views)
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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

Seth, like other commenters, I want to preface this by saying that your points are well-taken, and that the following is not to dogpile on you. I'm also a devotee of your blog and found your MFA-related resources very helpful during this whole crazy process--thank you for your dedication to making that information available!

That said, some other thoughts:

1) The reality check re: Columbia already exists. Echoing kijordan's post, no one here is taking debt lightly; earlier posts are very clear on their concerns about tuition, funding, and debt load.

Although I'm sure it wasn't your intent, I think posters in this thread are just a little taken aback by your entrance into the conversation, which seems to suggest that one "debt be damned" comment--taken out of context--might somehow misinform future applicants about the situation at Columbia when this whole thread more or less centers on Columbia's funding inadequacies.

3) A related point: Columbia has been dissected so many times that I think it's a little coy of you to suggest that future applicants might not be able to find any critical discussion on the program. For instance: if you google "Columbia MFA," the third result is the Grumpy Bookman post on Mark Slouka's evisceration of the writing program; the fifth and the eighth results are also Slouka-related pages. If you google "Columbia MFA ranking," the top result is your own 2007 rankings, in which you dedicate the bulk of the intro to your comments section to Columbia's low selectivity. By the time your hypothetical 21-year-old applicant actually reached the P&W boards, I'd say that changes are good that s/he has become intimately familiar with Columbia's failings.

On the other hand, critical information on Pitt seems harder to find. So perhaps your time might be better served--and this is not meant snidely--starting a thread or posting on your blog about Pitt and its funding situation, rather than reiterating something that's already been said again and again.

2) Yes, Columbia has fallen from applicants' favor, but--and again, I'm sure that you didn't mean for your comments to be read this way, but in the interest of candor--I find your comments on Columbia's poor polling and ranking somewhat disingenuous. You suggest that Columbia has seen a decline in quality applicants, based on it being one of the least selective top 50 programs. I'd also like to add that Columbia has one of the largest applicant pools of those 50 programs; looking over your 2007 acceptance rate chart, Columbia, at #32, sees more applicants than 30 of the programs with lower acceptance rates. Do they admit a higher proportion? Absolutely. But one has to consider that (i) the size of the original pool does matter and (ii) that not all programs draw from one single pool of applicants, so it's difficult to draw conclusions about the quality of one pool vs. that of another.

Also, looking at the grad placement and grad awards charts on your blog, Columbia ranks #2 in both major poetry fellowships and awards and academy placement.

Again, I write this all with respect and thanks for the work you do for prospective MFAers, but applicants, generally, aren't so naive as to take on $100K in debt without some critical thought.


wardis


Mar 21, 2008, 12:55 PM

Post #204 of 430 (8357 views)
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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

 
Hi Seth,

Thanks for your very thorough response. I agree with your rationale completely and want to assure you that my allegiances are truly not with the administrators of these programs, but with the prospective students. I'm especially happy to hear that you're going to report the hard data: what percentage of students receive financial aid, what type of aid they receive, etc. This, after all, is the most important information. What still concerns me, however, is the notion of ranking these programs numerically (as you do your reputation-based rankings), as opposed to, say, grouping the programs in tiers. A tiered ranking, in my opinion would not only provide all programs with a realistic incentive to improve their funding, but also provide students with a realistic idea of how different the funding situations in different programs really is.

Here are my reasons:

1. Above, you listed a dozen schools that guarantee full-funding to all students and another eight or so that offer funding to 75% or more. If one were to create a tier, I think almost all of those schools would fall under the category of "good funding." In a numerical ranking, however, some of those schools would fall in the top two or three spots and others would fall at the bottom of the top twenty or beyond, giving prospective students the impression that theres a larger disparity between them than there really is. After all, good funding is good funding. Who cares that UT offers a few more thousand dollars a year than Cornell, or that one program funds 95% of its students and another program funds 100%? As I see it, any prospective student looking at programs with such small differences in their funding situations should be thinking about other factors. And if they really do want more specific information about the subtle differences, then they can look at the hard data youre providing.

To be more specific, I think whats most important is drawing a distinction between a program like Cornell and a program like Columbia. Or a program that funds 95% of its students and program that funds 40%. I think its less important to draw a distinction between a program like UC, Irvine and a program like Houston, as both of are well-funded programs and should be perceived as such. If someone who was concerned about funding asked me whether there was any reason not to apply to either program, I'd say no. At UC, Irvine they'd have a guarantee of funding, and at Houston they'd virtually have a guarantee of funding. The difference would be so small that it shouldn't be a factor. And thus, I'd group those two programs together, under the heading of "well funded" programs, along with schools like Iowa, Michigan, and Virginia, all of which offer all or virtually all of their students funding. Similarly, I think a program like Pittsburgh should be grouped in a bottom tier with programs like Columbia, and that other schools offering, say, 50% of their students funding should be ranked in a middle tier.

Ranking programs numerically, on the other hand, gives applicants a warped perception that there are major differences between certain programs' funding situations when those differences are really pretty minimal. And, in a purely practical sense, not that important in the long run.

2. Again, I'm not on the side of the program administrators here, believe me, but there does seem to be something inherently unfair about a numerical ranking in which it would be realistically impossible for certain programs to ever pass other programs simply because of their size. For example, Arizona could never offer all of its students the same deal UT does, unless they either got some extraordinarily large endowment or cut down the size of their program. Thus, the only way Arizona could realistically compete with Texas would be to change who they are fundamentally and make themselves smaller. And I don't think that's the message you want to send. I think the message you want to send is this: In order for you to fall into a better tier, you need to work harder to get every student, or almost every student, a TAship. If you do, you'll move up into a tier with other well-funded programs. In other words, Arizona, or any other large program, should have the same opportunity that small programs do to be perceived as well-funded, to be included among the ranks of UT and Cornell, even if they can't realistically give every student a hefty stipend.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Thanks agin for your response, Seth.


umass76


Mar 21, 2008, 1:36 PM

Post #205 of 430 (8329 views)
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Re: [hackofalltrades] Columbia, again Can't Post

A few thoughts...

1. One critical difference between Harvard (and this is just a quick note to "upsetme") and Columbia is that Harvard (in this case the law school) has a loan forgiveness program. I wouldn't have been able to afford to go if it hadn't had one, as I knew beforehand that I wanted to be a public defender. Which is sort of along the same lines as another poster, above, who asked (in paraphrase) "Isn't it as much a question of how much I can make doing what I want to do, as opposed to merely what I want to do?" I understand and appreciate the feeling here that everyone is making a well-researched decision about where to attend, but (and here I mention the word "naivete" in the same well-intended spirit as others have mentioned it),

a) Isn't it a little naive to believe, with 300+ programs out there, that Columbia offers, in a way no other school does, a leg up in a particular industry? Or that in a field (non-fiction) where opportunities span the entire country (and where most entry-level positions are not in New York), that where you go to school, moreso than what you accomplish--or as much as what you accomplish--will get you a job? Or that a single internship available to, say, a single person among 70 admittees is a reason to go somewhere? Or that one can spend two years "focusing on one's writing" (what we all say we're going to school to do) while simultaneously networking at the highest levels of NYC's publishing industry (a pretty time-consuming side-job)? Or that Columbia's nonfiction professors are uniquely connected (and how would we know this, anyway?) as compared to, say, Iowa's? Or Arizona's? Or Ohio State's? Or Notre Dame's? If the field is so small in terms of nonfiction--and it is, as I agree that there may only be thirty programs or so--doesn't that make it more likely that the 100 or so nonfiction MFA professors operating nationally all know one another, and many of the same people in the industry? I guess what I'm saying is, in the law school field--as rigid a system of "cultural capital" as could possibly imagined--there are 15 to 20 law schools that give you an identifiable "leg up" in terms of future legal work. Why would the arts be more restrictive? I know there's a sense here that everyone's clear-headed, and I'm sure they are, but isn't there a little mythologizing going on here?

b) The numbers don't add up for those who want to use Columbia to i) amass $100,000+ in debt, ii) make connections in NYC so they can get a job there, and iii) then live in NYC in order to benefit from those connections and those jobs. My own experience is that $100,000 in debt comes out to around $1,000/mo. in loan payments, or $12,000/year. Given the cost of living anywhere in NYC--not just Manhattan--how much does one have to make to live at the barest level of comfort, while also clearing an additional 12K annually to pay for loans? I don't necessarily see that calculus being the main discussion-point here, so much as, by and large, generalities about Columbia's poor funding and reasons to go anyway. Columbia's proffer is one which should drive prospectives directly to their calculators, and to the extent there's a public space here to discuss Columbia it should probably be filled as much with number-crunching as anything else. I say this as a debtor, but I also say it as a current MFA at a program where everyone presumes the graduates will land on their feet, yet speaking with many of my classmates they are terrified--and have no clue about--their futures. They in no way whatsoever are sanguine about getting a job making $45,000+, as a poster above imagined would be necessary to live in NYC and pay Columbia-level debt. Most of them are happy to take jobs that pay $30,000, and some are struggling even to find those and opting (as I too may, candidly) for PhD. programs, to increase their future marketability and elongate their time-frame to write in.

c) I don't blame anyone for not understanding precisely my perspective; it's largely because no one but me can see my in-box, both here at P&W and on my home computer. The reality is that P&W folks are well-informed, but P&W folks are in the minority. And the reality, too, is that the youngest applicants (perhaps because of the follies of youth; I was this way too when I was 21) are least likely to adequately research programs, or understand the realities of debt. P&W is the first and last waystation for such candidates, and so I tend to think, frankly, that enough can never be said about these sorts of issues--either by me, or anyone else. There's no coyness about these discussions when--this very year--a young man came to this board who had applied to only one school (Columbia), got in, and then was distraught, in a public fashion, when he realized he couldn't afford to go. Whatever P&W is doing--or I'm doing--to inform folks of the dangers of applying only to NYC-area schools, it clearly isn't enough. You wouldn't believe how many applicants (and I see this as I do the polling) are applying only to schools which I know (because I've read every website) won't fund them. The person who (say, hypothetically) applies to Texas, Wisconsin, CCA, CalArts, Mills, and Saint Mary's might as well have applied only to Columbia, because the two non-CA schools there accept well less than 2% of applicants, and the others don't fund hardly anyone. Or how about the Chicagoland applicants who apply to Iowa, SAIC, Columbia College, Wisconsin, and Minnesota? Roughly the same situation, if one doesn't make the cut at UM's 4% acceptance rate. These are things happening right now. And who's going to be Paul Revere here? Does this board really serve that purpose? My own feeling is that it doesn't necessarily, as much as it represents a discussion that does bemoan Columbia's funding (while also trying to, I think, at points, justify it as being worth the investment, which to me seems manifestly a stretch).

d) Re: class size and applicant-pool size. I think it's important, first, to note that even by this measure, a school many folks are claiming is #2 after Iowa doesn't, in fact, i) get in the top ten in terms of applicants, or ii) enjoy, presently, the same applications-number spike that nearly every other top twenty-five school is enjoying. Also, if the boards are any indication, Columbia has the worst yield of any program in America--more people turn it down, as a percentage of the total acceptee pool, than any other program--which neutralizes any advantage it could claim from being 11th or 12th or whatnot in terms of applicant pool size (keep in mind, some of the schools listed at TSE offer only fiction-only numbers, whereas Columbia is all-genre--including, I might add, that extra third genre of nonfiction--which means that for fiction/poetry apps only Columbia would be ranked much, much lower in total apps. In this sense, the very popularity of CU's nonfiction program argues against the selectivity of the school, numbers-wise).

e) The grad placement and grad award numbers, when controlled for size, do not put Columbia second. In fact, when controlled for size Columbia does not crack the top 11 (I'm not sure where it places, I just know it's not in the top 11). So I hope the claim of disingenuousness takes into account that the poster has misquoted my website. In grad placement, things look even worse. Here's what I actually said on my website:

"...the 'normalized' totals for these smaller schools would be as follows: Cornell (54); the University of California at Irvine (36); Brown (31); Johns Hopkins (26); and Virginia (21). In contrast, the 'normalized' totals for the two schools here which are actually larger than Iowa, Columbia and Arizona, would likely be (9) and (4), respectively."

That would put Columbia, at best, 7th or 8th in that measure, and a distant 7th or 8th at that.

All this said, I do realize that, at the moment, I'm like Joe Black (Death, from the movie Meet Joe Black) in that scene where he goes into the hospital to flirt with Anthony Hopkins's daughter, and then realizes that a hospital is no place for Death Himself to be--"I realize now that my being here," he says, "isn't entirely appropriate." I'm nowhere near Brad Pitt to look at (obviously), but functionally I do feel like Death in a hospital here. I promise I don't do this to stir the pot, I do this because the only reason Columbia has the rap it has now is because of one man: Tom Kealey. And so I firmly believe one man can--in the field of MFA information research--make a difference. But he can't make a difference if he stays quiet, particularly if he fears to tread the one place where vocalization is most necessary. Again, if you could see my e-mails, and what folks are saying about the usefulness of this sort of information (did the folks here really know that 36 programs--and specifically which ones--fully fund students at a 75% rate or above?) I hope you'd understand why I wrote what I did, and why I haven't left this thread quite yet.

But in the interest of full-disclosure (and to ensure the ingenuousness of any critics), please also note the other things I've said about Columbia:

1) a top-tier program (meaning, by the new rankings I'm devising, within the top twelve nationally);
2) my first-choice school before I realized I couldn't afford it (ahead of Iowa);
3) the one school that, if it were fully-funded, would in my estimation be the best program in America (ahead of Iowa);
4) A school that, if you can afford it, is perhaps the best school in America to go to (ahead of Iowa);
5) one of the five to ten best faculties in America, across all genres
6) the best location in America
7) the best school to apply to in America for students looking for a high-odds chance of getting into an elite program

And more. I don't hate Columbia, I just hate what it's doing to its students--and its website, which is disingenuous inasmuch as it tries to sell prospective applicants on the notion that "full-funding" is not only something they have no right to expect, but by no means the norm among the top programs nationally.

Best to all,
Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Mar 21, 2008, 1:36 PM)


umass76


Mar 21, 2008, 1:51 PM

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Re: [wardis] Columbia, again Can't Post

Wardis,

I think you hit the nail on the head: most programs, even large programs, could expand their TAship offerings if they tried, and since employees get tuition waivers, there'd be a domino effect, such that even a school like Columbia could make a real move toward full funding. But again, I'm not trying to send any kind of message to the programs, but rather to applicants, who should apply to a mix of small and large programs, of well-funded and only partially-funded programs, and should--always--apply to a few high-admit, high-funding, large-class-size programs if at all possible, and if not that then at least the first two of those (and yes, such schools absolutely do exist; there are a handful in the all-three category, too). To the extent any school takes a message from the funding rankings, I think it'll be the right message: hey guys, we need to improve our funding! Which of course nearly every school already knows (though some more than others, I suppose). And actually, the funding ranking will have a handful of larger-size programs in it, because there are those that fund a decent percentage of their student body. So it's not hopeless for larger programs, and I don't think they'll take that message from the ranking. The reality is that larger programs tend to reside at schools with larger endowments, one reason even slightly larger programs can make the rankings (and do) if they try.

As to your first point, cost of living differences do make some packages more valuable than others--even, among fully-funded packages, to the tune of thousands of dollars. The availability of "topping-off" fellowships at some schools and not others also can add thousands of dollars' worth of difference as between two programs. Likewise, post-graduate fellowships. So tiers would actually be more misleading than numerical rankings, as within one tier the reality is that (cost of living taken into account) the top school in a twelve-school tier might offer $10,000 more over two years than the bottom school. That's a significant difference, given the relatively low dollar amounts we're talking (at most schools, except a few like Columbia). But more importantly, you have to remember that, with 300 programs in the country, any school in the top 50 in funding is in the top 16% of programs. Which means, moreover, that the program ranked 3rd is in the top 1%, and the program ranked 20th is in the top 6.7%, which not only sounds around right to me ($10,000 or so in funding disparity probably should equal a slight, 5%-or-so difference in the ranking), but also won't, I don't think, cause any student to not apply to the 20th school simply because it's not 3rd. I make clear in an essay preceding the top fifty rankings that, hey, if you even appear here you've got pretty good funding. I think that's fair to everyone, or at least hope will be seen as being so.

S.


pensive
Adam

Mar 21, 2008, 1:57 PM

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Seth and Pitt Can't Post

Not to step on any conversation or thread toes (I'm only saying it here because it was first mentioned in this thread).
Someone mentioned a wish for Pitt's program to be elaborated upon in the way you have for Columbia. As one of those prospective Pitt student's you consistently make reference to, I think this would be very helpful.

Whoever made the comment is correct. There is virtually no information about Pitt's program. I applied knowing fully well that it didn't fund more than a few students; it's reputation has maintained itself despite this fact. It has a good acceptance rate and individualized attention... and is a three year program. Aside from that? Not really sure, even after talking to a current student.

On this thread, or another, can you talk about Pitt a little?


umass76


Mar 21, 2008, 2:01 PM

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Re: [pensive] Seth and Pitt Can't Post

Pensive,

Maybe Motet would be willing to start a Pitt thread, if there isn't one already? I think that'd be a good idea.

S.


pensive
Adam

Mar 21, 2008, 2:06 PM

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Re: [umass76] Seth and Pitt Can't Post

I hope that Motet does.

I applied to mostly well-funded programs, but was accepted to the two that aren't (Pitt and Sarah Lawrence). I applied to these schools because they were programs I liked (from what I could find) and for their reputations. SLC has been very eager to give me info because they can; they're the size of a large high school. Pitt is HUGE, and public, and retrieving information about them is practically impossible.


wardis


Mar 21, 2008, 2:58 PM

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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

Seth,

Thanks again for your response. I'm relieved to hear that your funding rankings will include a handful of larger programs and am hopeful that some will even make the top 10. After all, when you factor in cost of living, in-state tuition and other factors, there are quite few large programs that are not only well funded, but also relatively cheap in the grand scheme of thinngs (e.g., Iowa, Houston, etc).

Looking forward to seeing the list, and thanks again for all of your hard work.

wardis


motet
Dana Davis / Moderator

Mar 21, 2008, 3:27 PM

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Re: [umass76] Seth and Pitt Can't Post


In Reply To
Maybe Motet would be willing to start a Pitt thread, if there isn't one already?



Let's go with door number two.... :)


kijordan


Mar 21, 2008, 4:53 PM

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Making Decisions Can't Post

To those of you still deciding, keep us updated !

Also, I'm actually visiting Columbia a week from today and I return two weeks before the fateful 15th of April, so if any of you are still ruminating, I can report back on my (poet's) impression of the program.


upsetme


Mar 22, 2008, 1:36 PM

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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

Just a few things:

1) There's more than one New Yorker internship. As I was told there are several. They run Fall, Spring and Summer, full-time and part-time, from what I was told. They go to first and second year students across all concentrations.

1a) It is certainly naive (and this why I joked about it) to think one would get hired at The New Yorker, or Harper's or The Atlantic or any other first-rate magazine fresh out of school. It is not naive to think you'll get an internship at one of those magazines. Everyone I talked to said they abound. When I visit I will quantify the opportunities and report back.

2) To evaluate a program or organization based solely on their Web site is hardly thorough or all inclusive. I called my top choices and set up an appointment with one of them -- Columbia where I was told, frankly, if I don't have rich parents or the willingness to shoulder debt, don't waste the application fee. Going solely on Internet information on anything you do is a recipe for disaster. It's like reading Ford, Dodge and Chevy Web pages than deciding what truck to buy. Do your online research, but go to the lot and drive before you pull the trigger.

3) Location is very, very important. Since graduating college I've lived in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia and now California -- rural California, almond California -- so I feel I can personally stress, again and again, just how important location really is. As a self-declared "city person" being in farm country is hard. Borders being the only bookstore in town is hard. Having friends (who are solid, interesting, intelligent people) who think Olive Garden is high cuisine is hard. Don't underestimate location. My first criteria for schools was location and I stand by that. Three years is a long time. I'm not willing to get used to farmland anymore, even if it meant a free ride, and thank god I didn't find that out during year two of an MFA. THAT would be tragic.

4) One poster already mention something like "that sparkle in people's eye" when you mention Columbia. That is very real -- even in the media world. A quick example: I work at a reputable mid-sized newspaper. I had to explain to everyone of my editors why, when it comes to writing programs, Iowa is usually considered the strongest. Well why did I apply to Pitt, Hollins and Hunter, then? they asked. Columbia they understood. Now they want me to send them sweatshirts. There's a certain magic (maybe unjustified -- my gf went to Yale and thought it a joke) that's hard to quantify. Writing on a resume that you interned at the New Yorker or another first-rate magazine, I think, has that same appeal. As my interests are literary journalism, I'll go back to mid-sized newspapers if I can't transition to magazines and free lance work. So those editors are the people I'll be dealing with. And yes, I'll make the 45K needed to pay back 100K in loans. I bought something, see: the experience of living in the best city in world and learning from the best working writers and critics in the game.


kijordan


Mar 22, 2008, 2:44 PM

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Re: [upsetme] Columbia, again Can't Post

Hi, I just wanted to say thanks for that. A nice melange of realism and optimism. Much, much appreciated.


umass76


Mar 22, 2008, 2:56 PM

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Re: [upsetme] Columbia, again Can't Post

Upsetme,

Good points. A few notes though:

1. There are 140 students in Columbia's MFA program at any one time, across three genres. Even if there are 14 internships available with The New Yorker--which I doubt (I remember trying to get unpaid summer internships with cash-/manpower-strapped public interest organizations after my first year of law school, and more than 50% of the places I sent letters to never even responded, as interns are generally seen as more trouble than they're worth)--well, even if there are 14 such internships, that still means 90% of students are out of luck.

2. I hope no one thinks I was judging Columbia "solely" on their website. In fact, I don't believe Columbia has ever been analyzed using as many different factors as have gone into Tom Kealey's and my own rankings. I hope no one believes Columbia's poor showing is either the result of a misunderstanding or a mis-analysis (heck, the school's worst showing isn't actually in my/Kealey's rankings--where it's listed in the top-tier--but in the P&W poll, which simply reflects the opinions of applicants; there, Columbia is just inside the top twenty overall). The analysis done of Columbia over the past few years, which takes into account fifteen or more factors, is dead on; the question here is whether there are compelling enough reasons to attend Columbia despite the analysis.

3. Location is the number one consideration for nearly all applicants: Kealey has said that, as have I. But I also caution against stereotyping certain types of locations. I live in Iowa City, where there is farmland four miles away in every single direction (as the crow flies). Nevertheless, there are seven bookstores in this town of 65,000, six of them independent--and one of them the best independent bookstore I've ever been in in my entire life. Three of the remaining four bookstores are absolutely top-notch, huge used bookstores. I've found better bookstores in Iowa City than I did in Boston. Cuisine? I don't even think we have an Olive Garden here, but there is, within one block, an all-vegetarian bistro, a vegetarian Indian restaurant, a "regular" Indian restaurant, three of the best small, independent steakhouses you'll ever go to, and countless small cafes, sandwich shops, Irish pubs, coffeehouses, noodle houses, and so on. Most college towns worth their salt can offer as much culture as the average Houston-size city--maybe falling well short of NYC, or San Franciso, but a heck of a lot nevertheless. [Plus, no one I know who lives in those cities ever gets around to exploring them near-fully anyway; a smaller locale is far more eligible for being "mastered" by its residents].

4. It's generally considered typical, in the writing industry, for folks who do hiring for writing-related institutions to know which schools are the best. That's why students who decide to go to, say, University of Houston don't worry that English Department hiring committees will look at them funny--as though Houston's undergraduate ranking is somehow representative in any sense of the writing program--because they know one of the primary jobs of hiring committees, for any type of employment, is to have a sense of which graduate schools are best in the field. Not just the top three or four schools, mind you, but the top twenty or thirty. Folks who look at applications all day can't help but acquire this knowledge, even if they're not trying (though most, because they realize it's their job, do, in fact, try). It seems as though it is only here, on the Columbia board, that that conventional wisdom is commonly agreed to have been turned on its head in the creative writing field: that somehow Columbia (and Iowa) grads hold a special place in their respective fields, while even other top-five programs in their field (say, nonfiction; say, like Pitt) are absolutely name-recognition-less. While I can see how this would be true at a mid-sized newspaper, larger employers are by no means going to look at you with confusion if you've gone anywhere but Columbia, and at times I've gotten the sense on this board that not everyone here believes that.

My two cents. Best,

Seth


upsetme


Mar 22, 2008, 3:29 PM

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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

1. As for internships, I'll dig out some hard numbers in the next few weeks, so we can discuss without guesswork.

2. I don't doubt how much work went into the rankings. I doubt that rankings (of anything) can give so complete a picture that shoe leather and phone calls and test drives aren't needed. Rankings are a great place to start, but a terrible place to finish. Consumer Reports keeps telling me again and again to buy a Toyota, but boy does that Chevy drives nice ...

3. Agreed. Every city is different. My point was only that the potential applicant should have a very clear picture of the place they expect to spend two or three years REGARDLESS of funding. I could have full funding at a place like UC Davis or UC Irvine and be unhappy for a host of reasons. (I'm not built for California.) I think we agree on this.

4. I think you're missing my point. People who staff English and Creative Writing Departments, I'm sure, know SIU Carbondale is a good program or Texas is what it is. People who hand out assignments at regional and national magazines, people who hire at newspapers, don't.


In Reply To
It seems as though it is only here, on the Columbia board, that that conventional wisdom is commonly agreed to have been turned on its head in the creative writing field: that somehow Columbia (and Iowa) grads hold a special place in their respective fields, while even other top-five programs in their field (say, nonfiction; say, like Pitt) are absolutely name-recognition-less.


It's not a Columbia problem. It's a journalism problem. And in that field Iowa does not hold a special place. Iowa needs explanation. Columbia does not. This is not unique to Columbia either. I imagine Brown, Cornell, Stanford, Berkeley -- other schools that have a carry-over respect from the crazed undergraduate admissions process, they would resonate as Columbia does. Even at large newspapers and big magazines, unless people who make hiring decisions have experience with, say, a student from Pitt, they will not know the quality of the Pitt program. I know these people. Many are brilliant and very, very good at what they do, but they are not academics. Many of them start with the idea that graduate school is a big waste of time. Selling them the unfamiliar only makes it all the harder. It's not a Columbia thing. It's that the conventional wisdom that is commonly agreed to in the creative writing field does not apply in the newsroom. Like I said in my first post, I don't think this applies to poets or people working on a first person memoir.


(This post was edited by upsetme on Mar 22, 2008, 3:34 PM)


umass76


Mar 22, 2008, 5:48 PM

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Re: [upsetme] Columbia, again Can't Post

Upsetme,

Fair enough; those are good points. Frankly the reason I originally wanted to go to Columbia is because of just the sort of "carry-over" you mentioned. I didn't believe anyone in the field would be familiar with any school that wasn't well-regarded already in terms of its undergraduate program (and I'm not talking about Iowa here, as I do think it's a very strong public university). While I've since learned that's not at all true--i.e., not at all a worry--in the poetry field, I can imagine that it might still be true with a number of nonfiction-related employers.

As to rankings being the be-all and end-all, we're in agreement. I've often said--on my blog, and elsewhere--that rankings should only be one of dozens of considerations. While, to me, those other considerations still preclude Columbia being a "smart" choice (albeit still an attractive one), I can certainly understand that considerations like name recognition and location are significant enough advantages, with respect to Columbia, that there's a real value there to many applicants. And I still feel as though, in a vacuum, Columbia would be a good choice for anyone--it was only when I saw how far behind Columbia lagged in terms of funding (six figures' worth behind) that I began to feel, and frankly many people I talk to now also feel, that the school is taking advantage of people who don't necessarily know about all the other options.

We should understand that the reason Columbia won't reduce its class-size--I think Wardis was wondering about this subject earlier--is because they just make too much damn money off MFA tuition, the way things are. There's nothing stopping Columbia from saying, "We're going to reduce our class size to six per genre, and fully fund everyone, until the University gives us more money." Well, there are two things stopping them: they'd have to drop faculty, and the University wouldn't permit one of its biggest cash cows to be slaughtered. But I still think reducing the program's size, in this environment, would be--morally--the right thing for Columbia to do.

Best,
S.


upsetme


Mar 22, 2008, 6:26 PM

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Re: [umass76] Columbia, again Can't Post

We agree on most points, but you said two things here I think warrant response:


In Reply To
... I began to feel, and frankly many people I talk to now also feel, that the school is taking advantage of people who don't necessarily know about all the other options.


I don't want to sound like a dogged Columbia-lover or pro-administration, but again, this isn't my experience. I was told by upfront, before I applied, if you can't afford it don't apply. Also, Columbia has increased it's funding exponentially in recent years. A great many students got at least $10,000 this year. Some, I'm told, got around $20,000, which amounts to half tuition. This was unheard of five years ago. They're moving in the right direction albeit slowly and in many people's opinion after the damage has been done. If leadership thinking was to simply milk students, as you suggest, because they can, I don't think we'd see this shift. Frankly, I don't know what the lines of leadership thought at Columbia are. I don't think any of us do. That said, I'm skeptical of arguments that claim leadership is willfully taking advantage of people. Call them and they will say: we're expensive. I don't have much sympathy for that 21-year-old kid who only applied to Columbia and couldn't afford it. He fell asleep at the wheel of research. He didn't do his homework. An MFA program isn't "What am I going to do this weekend?" or even a question like what car to buy. It's three-years of your life and to not plan that with intelligence and forethought is a crime only against yourself. Columbia, if anything, is capitalizing on its reputation in application fees and showing no sympathy for people who didn't pick up the phone.


In Reply To
But I still think reducing the program's size, in this environment, would be--morally--the right thing for Columbia to do.


Like another poster here discussed, I don't believe smaller and fully funded equals better. I'd go nuts with the same four people reading my work for three years -- even if they paid me. Editors, writing mentors, teachers, they're all like tires. Ride 'em as long as you can then get a new set. This, of course, is a personal preference. I went to a small liberal arts college for my freshmen year as an undergraduate and it didn't fit. I transfered to big competitive university and did just fine. I love the fray. I want as many people as possible with divergent tastes reading and commenting on my work. Columbia would be better off if every spot was fully funded, but don't touch the size. There are people out there who prefer bigger programs.

For someone doing nonfiction with no desire to teach, it seems like a real good fit. It's expensive, but few things in life are free.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 23, 2008, 6:13 PM

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Re: [upsetme] Columbia, again Can't Post

 

Quote

Like another poster here discussed, I don't believe smaller and fully funded equals better. I'd go nuts with the same four people reading my work for three years -- even if they paid me


I agree completely with upsetme on this point. Columbia is a bit too large for my personal preference, but is still vastly superior in size than most other programs for my taste.

I know a lot of people in small MFA programs and I definitly think that a large one is preferable. You have far more options for teachers and peers to judge your work. Some people love small programs and I can see how they are great for certain people. But not for me. I know people who went nuts at MFA programs where they only had a handful of peers and like 2 professors. If you weren't one of the students who caught the professors eyes or taste, you felt like an outcast for your entire experience.

Obviously fully funded is a better option. But a big program is a plus (for me at last), not a disadvantage.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Mar 23, 2008, 6:19 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 23, 2008, 6:29 PM

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Quote
1. There are 140 students in Columbia's MFA program at any one time, across three genres. Even if there are 14 internships available with The New Yorker--which I doubt (I remember trying to get unpaid summer internships with cash-/manpower-strapped public interest organizations after my first year of law school, and more than 50% of the places I sent letters to never even responded, as interns are generally seen as more trouble than they're worth)--well, even if there are 14 such internships, that still means 90% of students are out of luck.


Out of luck if you're only goal is the New Yorker.

You seem to forget how almost the entire publishing world exists in new york. There are hundreds of good magazines and tons of literary agencies.

For what its worth, from someone who actually goes to Columbia and actually lives in New York, I can promise that there are plenty of internship opportunities. Everyone I know at Columbia who wanted to intern somewhere has done so and almost always at a fantastic place.

Quote

(heck, the school's worst showing isn't actually in my/Kealey's rankings--where it's listed in the top-tier--but in the P&W poll, which simply reflects the opinions of applicants; there, Columbia is just inside the top twenty overall).


It doesn't reflect the "opinions of applicants" it reflects a small an un-statistical sample of people who post on this board and choose to post their application lists.

The fact is, Columbia has one of the largest application pools of any programs.

Quote

The analysis done of Columbia over the past few years, which takes into account fifteen or more factors, is dead on;


Yes, umass, your analysis of Columbia which contains numerous inaccuracies, is skewed by obvious personal bile, and conflicts with the opinions of almost every other source or expert in the field as well as the experiences of people who actually go to the program, is "dead on."

Yep. That's it.



Quote

Most college towns worth their salt can offer as much culture as the average Houston-size city--maybe falling well short of NYC, or San Franciso, but a heck of a lot nevertheless.


I've lived in several college towns and while I enjoyed my time there I don't find this to be remotely close to true.
Maybe if you are judging this purely in terms of quantity instead of quality.... but there is a huge difference in having some local art shoes and having museums showcasing historically important artworks or having some local bar bands playing every weekend or having your favorite bands tour through.

Again, there is nothing wrong with small college towns. For many people they are probably a preferable setting to larger cities. But that doesn't mean we need to pretend they offer the cultural opportunities anywhere close to a big city.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Mar 23, 2008, 6:38 PM)


wardis


Mar 23, 2008, 11:57 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] Columbia, again Can't Post

  
Seth,

I'm pretty much 100% in agreement with your concerns about Columbia, but I do want to say that I agree with Clench Millon on his point about size. I don't think the problem with Columbia is size. In fact, I think size is one of the major plusses of Columbia. I think the problem is simply that Columbia is an enormously wealthy institution that is not investing its wealth into one of its strongest programs. Certainly, they've done a lot to acquire a top notch faculty--probably the best in the country next to Iowa--but they haven't invested the same amount of money into financial aid for their students, though it's encouraging to see that they're making efforts in that direction.

As for the issue of size, I agree with Clench Millon that there are major drawbacks to a small student body and that it concerns me that certain schools who pride themselves on being very selective and small are rising so quickly in the rankings (or public perception), due primarily to the fact that they're small (thus, selective) and can give their students more money than a graduate student really needs. I have very specific concerns about a program like Texas, which ten years ago wasn't even on the MFA map, and which is not, in any other respect, very impressive. The faculty is decent, but not great, and the student success rate after graduation has been fairly abysmal. Nevertheless, there's this sense that because UT is offering large sums of money to a very small number of students that they're somehow a top-ranked school.

Personally, I look at Iowa as a model program. I didn't go there, but several friends of mine did, and I've visited Iowa City and know of the bookstores you wrote about. I also noticed when I was visiting that there was an enormous community of writers in town. I went to a party with a friend of mine who was in the program at the time and I was literally overwelmed by the high-level of conversation about writing and the overall energy and enthusiasm about writing that I observed. I thought, this is the closest thing America has to the Left Bank of the 20s. On top of that, in the years that have passed since then, I have bought several books by people I met when I was there, people who I shared drinks with and who my friend lived with. Not to be put too strong a point on it, but that was one of the best weekends of my life, and I honestly didn't ever want to leave.

Since then, I have met people who have gone to smaller programs, including Cornell, UT, and Johns Hopkins, and I haven't gotten the sense that their experience was anything like this. Personally, I went to Houston, and though the student body there wasn't nearly as dynamic or as talented as the one I observed in Iowa, it was still an amazing experience, largely because of the size of the program, because the community of writers was so diverse. I imagine Columbia is probably the same way, and it only saddens me that the administration isn't taking note of this and doing everything they can to keep the program as competive as it has been in the past. All that said, I do still think that Columbia is a well-regarded program and that it shouldn't be criticized because of this size. After all, if a program like Iowa suddenly decided to shrink its student body--and this was the point I was making in an earlier post--I think something that is very magical about that place would be lost.

Best,
wardis


(This post was edited by wardis on Mar 24, 2008, 12:01 AM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 24, 2008, 12:20 AM

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Quote
Certainly, they've done a lot to acquire a top notch faculty--probably the best in the country next to Iowa--but they haven't invested the same amount of money into financial aid for their students, though it's encouraging to see that they're making efforts in that direction.


The financial aid at Columbia is not nearly what it should be and I would certainly never imply otherwise.

The only thing that offends me about Seth's posts is that he feels free to insult and impugn the integrity of Columbia's faculty, claiming they are money hungry and don't care about their students, yada yada. This is completely untrue. The faculty in the writing program works very hard for their students and has been working for a long time to get better funding.

The issue is not with the integrity of anyone in the writing program, but with outside forces. Some of which include
a) The upper bureaucracy doesn't seem terribly concerned with arts funding.
b) For a long while there was no real dean of the School of the Arts (they finally got one recently), which hurts money raising
c) For a long long time there was no undergrad creative writing program. This means there simply where no classes that students could TA (ie, the way most MFA programs fund their students). Now there is one and it is tied to the grad program, so hopefully they will be able to get the TA thing running.

It is fine to question Columbia's funding and it is fine to question taking on debt to go to an MFA program. But I don't think it is fine to insult people who you've never met and know nothing about without even the basic facts at hand.

That's all.

Quote

After all, if a program like Iowa suddenly decided to shrink its student body--and this was the point I was making in an earlier post--I think something that is very magical about that place would be lost.



Agreed. I can completely understand why someone would want a small program and I wouldn't say anything bad about such programs, but a large program really does have a lot of benefits.
Most things I read, or read back when I was looking to apply, talked about how the student body and community you meet at an MFA is the most valuable part. You form connections in your field that will last your whole life.

Large programs like Columbia or Iowa allow you to have a vibrant literary community with tons of styles, aesthetics, projects and ideas swirling around you. I think it is very positive thing. In fact, I don't see any real downsides. People say you don't get the one-on-one teacher support... but I don't think that is true. It isn't like the class sizes balloon in large programs and the faculty number stays the same. Rather, the faculty increases with the students. My workshops have all been between 7 and 11 students. The same as anywhere else.

People's personal tastes will vary, but I'd personally suggest that a large program is almost always a benefit. At least in my experience and the experiences of friends in other programs.


umass76


Mar 24, 2008, 12:25 AM

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CM, if I'd ever said the things you say I've said about Columbia's faculty, your response would make sense to me. But I didn't, so it is a puzzle. Criticizing a) the University, and b) the webmaster, and c) the administration of the CU MFA program is not the same as "impugning the integrity," calling "money-hungry," and "insulting" the faculty. I didn't do any of those things, nor would I. Nor did I ever say the CU faculty doesn't care about students. Once again, you're full of it, and once again, I'd rather just not engage you, as this tactic from you--misquoting me--is par for the course with you, and I'm tired of it.

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Mar 24, 2008, 12:26 AM)


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 24, 2008, 12:42 AM

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Quote
We should understand that the reason Columbia won't reduce its class-size--I think Wardis was wondering about this subject earlier--is because they just make too much damn money off MFA tuition, the way things are. There's nothing stopping Columbia from saying, "We're going to reduce our class size to six per genre, and fully fund everyone, until the University gives us more money." Well, there are two things stopping them: they'd have to drop faculty, and the University wouldn't permit one of its biggest cash cows to be slaughtered. But I still think reducing the program's size, in this environment, would be--morally--the right thing for Columbia to do.


Here is the perfect example of what I'm talking about.

Look at the assumptions, based on nothing as far as I can tell, that this post makes. The post claims that there is "nothing stopping" the Columbia writing program from dropping enrollment to six and funding everyone and demanding the upper management give them more money. It doesn't even seem remotely plausible. Since when can any program in a school drastically change its acceptance rate without authorization from various levels of management plus dozens of other considerations. And the idea that dropping the acceptance rate would automatically raise available funding is also based on nothing and also quite unlikely. Cutting acceptance rates could easily dry up available funding.

Not to mention that the size is general considered a positive thing.

But nope, it must be because of the lack or morality of the people who work at Columbia.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 24, 2008, 1:05 AM

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Anyway, debt is a huge thing to shoulder, especially if you are going into poetry or fiction. Not a lot of money to be made there.

It seems to me if you have an offer from a program that will put you way in debt and another that won't which is equally good, you should go for the equally good one every time.

That said, I think a lot of the Columbia bashing (and iowa bashing and NYU and New School bashing and so on) has created an myth that all programs are basically as good as one another and that you should go to whoever gives you the most money. I've seen this view expressed a lot on the internet and in real life about MFA programs.

I think it is a dangerous POV. I know lots of people who opted for programs that weren't that highly regarded but who gave them money and ended up having a really a horrible time or getting very little out of it. A good faculty does matter as does connections and peer group and everything else. You only get to go to an MFA once and it takes up years of your life. One should heavily consider what they are getting themselves into both in terms of debt and in terms of quality. Both are things that will likely affect you your whole life.

Again, I'm not pretending Columbia is some program miles above all the others. It isn't. It is one of the best, but there are many other programs just as great or nearly as great. But when looking at schools people should face the realities of both debt and the kind of education you will get. At least that is my 2 cents.


sicofelephants



Mar 24, 2008, 2:01 AM

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To be fair now, I spoke with a former Columbia student who absolutely loathes the school. He felt that it did not do much to improve his writing skills so much as his networking skills. His biggest complaint, though, was with the student body. Haha, I've never spoken to anyone so bitter about their time at a school, and I really regreted bringing up the subject with him. I won't get into specifics about what he hated so much about the students there, but believe me when I say I would never ask him again about C_ _ _ _ _ _ _.

Anyway, I just bring up this point because there's a place for everyone. Sure, maybe my money *will* go to waste at Texas State or UT because it's just not as good as most places (the MA, not the Michener MFA. My professor also mentioned the flakey faculty at the Mich, and her boyfriend had a few negative things to say about them as well even though he got his MFA there). Then again, maybe I'll actually enjoy my time at a place like Texas State, despite its smaller size and budding reputation. The students I've spoken to there are highly enthusiastic about the program and have been so welcoming. I know you mentioned you weren't trying to bash lesser schools, but in your rush to defend Columbia, it did come off that way. Not all of us are that good, and it kinda brings us down when you talk about schools some of us will end up going to. As if the only thing worse than our writing skills is our judgement for taking a well-funded offer. I'm happy for all the future TC Boyles and Flannery O'Conors of the world who will graduate from Columbia and Iowa. *shrug* I just don't think that either is an ideal model. If all schools were like that and suddenly 90% of MFA applicants could never get in to any schools becaues they weren't good enough....

Again, I know you weren't trying to be mean or trying to discourage students from taking funded offers for the sake of money. It just sounds like your defensiveness got the better of you in some parts of yours posts. And to your credit, I'm sure there are kids about to accept their Columbia offers who needed a voice like yours to save the school's reputation.


sicofelephants



Mar 24, 2008, 2:12 AM

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Oh, and as for tiny programs having a problem with students being the professors' favorite in order to get the most out of their time there, the guy I spoke to at Columbia said the out-of-control ass kissing there was one of his biggest turn offs about the school. A quote from him, verbatim:

"Competition is rife and the environment is an absurdity. However, if you become someone's pet, you'll have fewer problems and mysterious gifts will make their way to you. (And I was recipient of some of those, in spite of the tone of this message.) If not, well...it will be a long two years. I recommend spending breezy days at the Cloisters."

And in spite of all his anger, I've never heard anyone so deft with language. I have no doubt of the caliber of students going to Columbia. Just sayin' there are students that good who choose other "lesser" programs.


(This post was edited by sicofelephants on Mar 24, 2008, 2:12 AM)


spamela


Mar 24, 2008, 9:27 AM

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Oy, just to join the fray here, I've found Iowa City to be one of the snobbiest writing towns I've ever lived in--and I just moved here from New York. I've found there to be an attitude here that if you didn't/don't go to the workshop, you're not a real writer. Iowa City is the town of my birth and youth and so it was quite disappointing to find this to be the case when I moved back as a fiction-writing adult. Basically, I've learned my lesson and stay away from the Workshop people. The townies are where it's at.


__________



Mar 24, 2008, 10:13 AM

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In Reply To
Columbia...Not all of us are that good, and it kinda brings us down when you talk about schools some of us will end up going to.
____________________________


Gotta say I disagree with this line of thinking. Columbia might be a 'name' school (and nothing against Columbia, I do know it's really swell), but no one should feel less of a writer for getting into a great school like Texas State (which is even more selective than Columbia!). Read the best work coming out of the various schools (in journals, I guess), read the more mid-range (or even bad) work (from friends, acquaintances, school journals, helpful netizens), and you'll see it's not much different wherever you might end up. (Except maybe Iowa, is what I'm thinking. Then you may reasonably feel like a lesser human for not getting in. But not even then, not always...).


six five four three two one 0 ->


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 24, 2008, 11:01 AM

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sicofelephants:

Those are some fair points. And yes, I'm sure there are many people who loathe Columbia after graduating. I've heard graduates rail against how horrible Iowa was and Arkansas and pretty much every program. No program is for everyone, hell MFAs aren't even for all writers. You can read articles by a lot of them that make it clear they never should have gone to an MFA at all. C'est la vie.


Quote
Not all of us are that good, and it kinda brings us down when you talk about schools some of us will end up going to.


Well, I wasn't commenting at all on what someone who gets into only X or Y program should do. I'm just giving a note of caution that there is more to an MFA program than the funding. I've just known people and read accounts on boards like this where people were offered a spot at their dream school but turned it down for better funding somewhere else and lived to really regret it.

This isn't only about Columbia. Like I said, there are a fair number of really good programs in the country and Columbia is certainly not on some special pedestal here. It may be someone gets into NYU with barely any funding or is one of the Iowa picks without money and turn them down for other offers.

I'm not at all bashing anyone for going for the other offer either. All of this is personal choice. Just saying that people should keep in mind all the factors. This is, after all, your only MFA experience. I feel like the conversation in certain circles has focused too heavily on the one factor of funding ands it caused some people to make decisions they regret. Of course, I"m sure there are people who regret going into debt for an MFA as well.

I was not trying to bash anyone, just offering up something to think about when picking schools.


Quote

Oh, and as for tiny programs having a problem with students being the professors' favorite in order to get the most out of their time there,


This is not what I meant before. I was referring to how at a small program you may end up talking almost all your classes with like two professors and what if neither of them ends up being a good teacher for your work? Not every teacher is the best for every student. I think we all know this from undergrad workshops.

That is not to bash small programs, just to say that there are a lot of positives and negatives to both small and large programs. It really is a matter of personal preference.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Mar 24, 2008, 11:06 AM)


sicofelephants



Mar 24, 2008, 11:07 AM

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Points well taken. It was just hard to tell sometimes whether your aggression was aimed just at disparagers of Columbia or at some of these smaller programs as well.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 24, 2008, 11:24 AM

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In Reply To
Points well taken. It was just hard to tell sometimes whether your aggression was aimed just at disparagers of Columbia or at some of these smaller programs as well.


I apologize if I come off as aggressive. I don't mind legitimate criticism of Columbia or any questions raised. The only thing I mind are is some of myths that are perpetrated. Well, and that fact that some posters feel the need to rail against the program with obvious bile in post after post after post, not stating their point of view, but drowning everyone in it and forcing out all other opinions under the sheer length and volume of the posts.

Threads like these are for future applicants to peruse and get some thoughts on various programs, not a place to hear one person's opinion repeated ad nauseum.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Mar 24, 2008, 11:28 AM)


pensive
Adam

Mar 24, 2008, 11:35 AM

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Children... behave.


LauraJean1


Mar 24, 2008, 1:12 PM

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Verdict Can't Post

The benefits for me, outweigh the negatives.

I'm going to Columbia, for fiction, fall 2008!


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 24, 2008, 1:34 PM

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Laura:

Well congrats on the acceptance. Please feel free to PM me if you have any questions about the program.
peace
CM


upsetme


Mar 24, 2008, 2:29 PM

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In Reply To
The benefits for me, outweigh the negatives.

I'm going to Columbia, for fiction, fall 2008!


Congrats! I'm close to pulling the trigger myself, but I want to make a visit first -- see the New School, see Columbia -- then decide.

Anyone get a (Columbia) packet yet or word on the best time to visit?


LauraJean1


Mar 24, 2008, 5:56 PM

Post #237 of 430 (7067 views)
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No packet yet.

Oh when will information just show up at my door?


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 24, 2008, 6:12 PM

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In Reply To

In Reply To
The benefits for me, outweigh the negatives.

I'm going to Columbia, for fiction, fall 2008!


Congrats! I'm close to pulling the trigger myself, but I want to make a visit first -- see the New School, see Columbia -- then decide.

Anyone get a (Columbia) packet yet or word on the best time to visit?



I don't know the date off hand, but there is an open house for prospective students sometime in april. Probably the best date to come. I think George Saunders is giving a guest lecture that day as well. I'll post the date if I find out.


upsetme


Mar 24, 2008, 6:34 PM

Post #239 of 430 (7029 views)
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Thanks!


hackofalltrades


Mar 24, 2008, 7:45 PM

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Package arrived Can't Post

Dudes and dudettes, my Columbia package arrived. I'm in Brooklyn, so I'm probably one of the first recipients, but expect yours in the mail soon! It requests a yay or nay by April 11.

I was happy to see that the Hertog Fellowships are still running. For some reason, I don't recall reading about them on the Columbia website, so it's nice to know that they're still around.

I'm still holding out to hear if I got more money before saying yes officially, but I'm just being coy--I'm 99% on the Columbia train at this point.


dylanvitti


Mar 24, 2008, 8:26 PM

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My packet arrived, as well! And I'm in North Carolina, so it took a few days to get here. I'm nearly 100% certain I'm attending for poetry in the fall.


shireen


Mar 24, 2008, 8:43 PM

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I also just got the packet (in New York)...
As a heads up, the open house is on April 17.

I heard that there's a week when we can sit in on classes? The packet doesn't mention anything about that, but I assume it'd be around the open house. Hm...


hackofalltrades


Mar 24, 2008, 9:23 PM

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Okay, upon re-reading my package, one letter says I have to notify them of my decision no later than April 11, and another says no later than April 7. The professor who called me said May 1. This is all kind of confusing... and maybe pointlessly so, but I figure the longer I hold out, the better chances I have of hearing about more funding before I commit.


LauraJean1


Mar 25, 2008, 11:43 AM

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My packet arrived, in Oregon, sans self-addressed envelope and reply card.

I contacted folks over at Columbia and they said I should just send my own note with the acceptance payment.

Now I'm hoping the financial aid packet will arrive before Friday. The process continues...


kijordan


Mar 25, 2008, 4:55 PM

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Package Envy ! Can't Post

Do your packages make any mention of $ ? Or does funding require a separate, slow-moving parcel ? My mailing address is in Southern California, so I bet it arrives Friday. Anyone on the West Coast waiting as well ?

Also, is anyone else visiting Columbia before Open House ? I'll be in NYC from 28 Mar - 1 Apr (I wanted to see the school before the deadline).

In reality, I can probably say with certainty that I'll be attending Columbia for poetry in the fall. Especially after finally receiving my rejection letter from Brown today, 10 days late. No love lost, though ! I'm really excited to work with Tim Donnelly and Richard Howard.

See some of you in the fall !

PS: A good friend in the fiction program at Columbia told me that this year's class of poets was only 16 strong. So while that may be 3ish times bigger than Iowa or Brown, it's still, well, not that big.


hackofalltrades


Mar 25, 2008, 5:04 PM

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Mine had a fellowship award letter, but I'm not sure if I saw anything about the tuition costs for 2008-09.

That class size sounds perfect! I prefer larger programs to small ones--they seem less insular, and you'd probably have so many more points of entrance with your peers--and 16 new names is probably the most I can remember. Heh.

Are any of you guys still corresponding with the professors who called you?


umass76


Mar 25, 2008, 5:12 PM

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KIJ,

Actually, as it turns out Iowa's entering class this year--in poetry--is reported to be 27 poets strong. My own class is 22. Brown is 5, Virginia 5, Cornell 4, and so on (there are others that size too) but 16 is actually starting to move toward "mid-size," like Michigan (12) and Massachusetts (10).

Best,
Seth


kijordan


Mar 25, 2008, 6:01 PM

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I'm still in sporadic contact with Josh Bell, and I've reached out to a couple other lecturers / professors, who have responded warmly.

Congrats, by the way, on the fellowship ! Which exactly is it ? The tuition halver ?


LauraJean1


Mar 25, 2008, 6:17 PM

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Unfortunately, I think the $$$ news comes in a separate, slow moving packet.

Meanwhile, I have kept in touch with the professor who first called me.

The ongoing buzz/excitement about going off to NY makes me dizzy some days. Can't wait.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 25, 2008, 6:54 PM

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In Reply To

PS: A good friend in the fiction program at Columbia told me that this year's class of poets was only 16 strong. So while that may be 3ish times bigger than Iowa or Brown, it's still, well, not that big.


Columbia's fiction section is the only large one (entering class is mid-30s I think). Poetry and non-fiction are in the teens, more mid-sized.

Iowa has a larger poetry section that Columbia, actually.


kijordan


Mar 25, 2008, 7:06 PM

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Yeah, Seth cleared that up for me above. To be honest, I don't know much about Iowa's writing program in the way of statistics, as I demonstrated with my misinformation above. So for neatness' sake, just pretend I said Cornell instead of Iowa. :)

Anyway, the point of mentioning the class-size figure was not to draw attention to Iowa but, really, to signal to the poets that all this talk of Columbia The Huge, etc. doesn't really apply to the poetry division.


upsetme


Mar 26, 2008, 1:34 AM

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In Reply To
Unfortunately, I think the $$$ news comes in a separate, slow moving packet.


There was a letter addressing my Writing Fellowship in the package, but also a note that more will be coming from the financial aid office -- information, that is, not money ...


jeramey



Mar 30, 2008, 12:51 PM

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I sent off my deposit for Columbia yesterday (nonfiction), so I'll be seeing those of you who accept in the fall. I'm looking forward to it.


h orange


Apr 1, 2008, 4:32 PM

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Yay, just sent in my deposit, for fiction! Just wanted to share my excitement ...


kijordan


Apr 2, 2008, 5:07 AM

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My Recent Visit to Columbia Can't Post

A few things I noticed:

If you haven't seen the campus, it's stunning. I say this coming from a tiny liberal arts college in Western Massachusetts that--despite a beauty its own--keeps to a more provincial (read: Puritanical) tradition. Anyway, Columbia's campus was something altogether different for me--the height of university towers, the general bustling, the exclusive library (ha), the corporations (disguised as young, wandering students--with gift cards) pandering on campus (Starbucks, Red Bull), etc.

On the other hand, to dispel, at least spatially, any anxieties about (what could be considered) a structurally (and populously?) imposing environment at Columbia, I wanted to note that the entire School of Arts is one building, and the entire Writing Division is one small floor (the fourth). It was immediately cozy !

The other experiences are less general, more teacher-specific, which seems inappropriate to go into on a public message board. But, to be appropriately vague, it was a mixed bag, the brighter stuff in the bag outweighing the wet-blanket, bummerish things encountered (in people, facts) there.

So--I think I'm going (for poetry) !

Oh, also, the few students I spoke with were completely lovely and helpful. If you visit (especially outside of an organized event like Open House), you should talk and talk and talk. To anyone.


keliz308


Apr 2, 2008, 12:26 PM

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So, I'm not sure if anyone is willing to answer this question, but I was just very curious about funding. I am trying to decide between three NY schools and the financial point keeps becoming a main factor. For those of you who were accepted to Columbia for Fiction: Did you receive any funding? And if so, how much? I know this is a very personal question, but I wanted to see what the other packages out there looked like.... It seems the amount of money you get is telling about how much the school wants you.

Any thoughts? Thank you!!


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 2, 2008, 2:07 PM

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In Reply To
So, I'm not sure if anyone is willing to answer this question, but I was just very curious about funding. I am trying to decide between three NY schools and the financial point keeps becoming a main factor. For those of you who were accepted to Columbia for Fiction: Did you receive any funding? And if so, how much? I know this is a very personal question, but I wanted to see what the other packages out there looked like.... It seems the amount of money you get is telling about how much the school wants you.

Any thoughts? Thank you!!


My understanding (and this comes from accepted students who have talked to me, not any inside info from the administration) is that a few people get full ride fellowships now. Maybe two per genre? I don't know.

Then there are a few other biggish fellowships and then lots of very small ones.

I think this is basically how it works at NYU and maybe all the NYC schools (most seem to have bad funding).

One thing I will say about Columbia is that the funding you get will only increase or stay the same for your second year. It is not like Iowa where you actively compete with your fellow students to get fellowships since the money amonts change there from year to year.


keliz308


Apr 2, 2008, 2:34 PM

Post #258 of 430 (6802 views)
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Thanks for the info, CM. I appreciate it! I guess that's what I figured...


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 2, 2008, 2:48 PM

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I think for any school they offer the most money to the people they want the most. I wouldn't read too much into this, beyond the financial implications, though. People's work can change drastically during the MFA and people don't get special treatment just because they got a little more or little less funding.


kijordan


Apr 2, 2008, 3:56 PM

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I've definitely been lured into determining my desirability as a student by how much I will be funded. The only problem now is that we have to accept before knowing anything--at least I do. I haven't gotten any news from my contacts in the poetry division other than the standard "we still know nothing" line, and the off-the-bat offer of partial funding never figured into that initial call for me, as I think it has for a few others who have posted here.

I think it's helpful, though, to attempt to distance yourself from that sort of mentality (I am particularly repeating this sentence to myself, actually). Logically, yeah, the upper crust will get the most funding to make attendance more alluring to those three or four, but our acceptance isn't the more conditional or discouraging for it. It's important to remember that some of the accepted students have published work and other concrete emblems of "worth" (ick, hate to put it that way) that others, like I, don't. In the end, if I'm not getting out at 116th Street in September to a welcoming committee of fat clouds raining hundred-dollar bills, I think I'll be okay. If they didn't want the less-well-funded "that badly," they wouldn't have called us so pleasantly to offer us a spot.

That's my take at least, as someone struggling to quit itemizing the process and my status within that imagined hierarchy. Which is just to say, I understand where you're coming from and godspeed, etc. !


upsetme


Apr 4, 2008, 12:57 AM

Post #261 of 430 (6676 views)
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off to New York Can't Post

 
Mailing the deposit tomorrow!!!


kijordan


Apr 4, 2008, 1:39 AM

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Funding News, Finally Can't Post

Hey !

So I was finally told my fellowship/funding award amount. Anyone else find out too ? And does it make a difference to you ?


LauraJean1


Apr 6, 2008, 6:07 PM

Post #263 of 430 (6602 views)
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Re: [kijordan] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

Did you get the news by mail? Did they call you?

I'm still waiting on financial news from Columbia...


kijordan


Apr 6, 2008, 6:18 PM

Post #264 of 430 (6594 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

By e-mail.

I'm under the impression that the actual "Financial Aid" parcel will arrive well after April 11th, just so those still deciding have to "suspend disbelief," as they say, about the cost of tuition. That is, if it's printed on paper or at all manifestly visible, we realize just how much we owe; if not, we happily (albeit cautiously) accept.


To be honest, after accepting the offer two days ago, I feel both happy and stupid. Is this normal ? Oy.


ksy79


Apr 7, 2008, 12:07 PM

Post #265 of 430 (6538 views)
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Re: [kijordan] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

hey, kijordan.

did you inquire about funding and then receive an email? i'm going a little crazy here waiting on the monies situation.


kijordan


Apr 7, 2008, 12:25 PM

Post #266 of 430 (6524 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

Yeah, I asked about three times--but not in a pushy way and not day after day after day. Between mid-March and early April, I broached the subject at appropriate intervals and finally got an answer. Just for clarity's sake, I don't know what the overall progress is for notifying people in the writing division as a whole, but I'm referring to the poetry half.


LauraJean1


Apr 7, 2008, 12:29 PM

Post #267 of 430 (6522 views)
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Re: [kijordan] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

Yeah, I already accepted with no word on my financial aid package. Plus, I have tried to contact the financial aid office to make sure they received my FAFSA information, but have gotten no word.

Are you applying to outside scholarships yet?


kijordan


Apr 7, 2008, 12:36 PM

Post #268 of 430 (6513 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

Ugh, I bet that's really frustrating. I have no idea why I was informed when I was, but I think the way C. handles funding is intentionally blurry and offensively secretive.

I've been looking for internships, but (as they warned during the application process) so many of the deadlines have already passed. And there aren't very many arts-related scholarships, surprisingly. I'm nearly moved to build a lemonade stand outside my apartment. And I'm only half-joking.


ksy79


Apr 8, 2008, 1:31 PM

Post #269 of 430 (6432 views)
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Re: [hackofalltrades] Package arrived Can't Post


In Reply To
Okay, upon re-reading my package, one letter says I have to notify them of my decision no later than April 11, and another says no later than April 7. The professor who called me said May 1. This is all kind of confusing... and maybe pointlessly so, but I figure the longer I hold out, the better chances I have of hearing about more funding before I commit.



anyone ever find out if the deadline really truly is april 11th? does that mean they need my card and deposit in their hands by friday?!


umass76


Apr 8, 2008, 1:58 PM

Post #270 of 430 (6416 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Package arrived Can't Post

Just a clarification on Clench's comment, above, about the funding at Iowa. If by "actively competing for funding" he means that students at Iowa "drop a packet of ten poems off at Dey House in late January, and then forget about it," then yes, we are actively engaged in competition here at Iowa. Fellowships are indeed awarded based on the merit of work submitted to the program mid-way through the first year, though the work has to have been work produced while the student was in Iowa--not a particularly radical concept, actually, awarding fellowships based on merit. But more importantly: I don't know of anyone (yet) whose funding has decreased between the first year and the second; because GEL/Rhetoric TAship appointments are for two years, and carry an increased stipend the second year, and because students who don't get a fellowship simply stick with their current TAship appointment (and second-year raise), the implication left by describing Iowa as a "tiered" funding system is horrifically misleading. Essentially, it's tiered in only the following sense: you either get excellent funding, or even better than excellent funding. It's like saying you can either have a hot fudge sundae with marshmallow topping, or the same hot fudge sundae with not only marshmallow topping but also nuts and a cherry. At this point I'll leave it to Clench and/or others to describe Columbia's sundae, I just thought that a clarification here was both just and warranted.

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Apr 8, 2008, 1:59 PM)


dylanvitti


Apr 8, 2008, 1:59 PM

Post #271 of 430 (6412 views)
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Re: [ksy79] Package arrived Can't Post

My info provided one envelope with two forms. Official acceptance (due April 11th,) and acceptance of a fellowship (due April 7th.) I mailed both back last week...but does anyone know if/when we will receive official word that things arrived on time?


h orange


Apr 8, 2008, 2:33 PM

Post #272 of 430 (6388 views)
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Re: [dylanvitti] Package arrived Can't Post

I called the admissions office yesterday, to make sure my deposit arrived in time for the fellowship deadline. They seemed nice enough about it, so I might try that if you're nervous.


ksy79


Apr 8, 2008, 2:39 PM

Post #273 of 430 (6378 views)
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Re: [h orange] Package arrived Can't Post

thanks, dylanvitti and h orange!


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 9, 2008, 11:57 AM

Post #274 of 430 (6306 views)
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Re: [umass76] Package arrived Can't Post

Umass, I was only going by what Tom Kealey said on his book and site when he researched the programs and what students have said here. If Iowa no longer leaves a portion of their students with little to no funding and no longer lowers funding for some students in the second year, that is excellent. It seemed like a needlessly divisive practice.


umass76


Apr 9, 2008, 10:55 PM

Post #275 of 430 (6223 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Package arrived Can't Post

The second edition of the Handbook will correct that error; yes, things are much different now. I can say from first-hand knowledge.
S.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 10, 2008, 12:09 PM

Post #276 of 430 (7815 views)
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Re: [umass76] Package arrived Can't Post

Cool. Was it an error or is the info simply outdated?

It seems a lot has changed at a lot of the programs. Hopefully it will correct the outdated info on Columbia too. When is it coming out?


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Apr 10, 2008, 12:11 PM)


dorchester


Apr 12, 2008, 12:28 AM

Post #277 of 430 (7710 views)
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Re: [umass76] Package arrived Can't Post


In Reply To
The second edition of the Handbook will correct that error; yes, things are much different now. I can say from first-hand knowledge.
S.

Yeah, that was an unfortunate error. I can't tell you how many times I've had to tell people that simply isn't true.


keliz308


Apr 14, 2008, 2:37 PM

Post #278 of 430 (7635 views)
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Re: [h orange] Package Envy ! Can't Post

Hmm... Tell me more about why you accepted! I'm still on the fence, though I found out I received a decent scholarship and that def. helps!

Does anyone know the exact cost of tuition for Columbia for the two years?


keliz308


Apr 14, 2008, 4:09 PM

Post #279 of 430 (7604 views)
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Re: [upsetme] Verdict Can't Post

Upset me-- Did you make your decision yet about Columbia vs. New School? If so, why did you choose THE ONE? I'm in the same boat...


LauraJean1


Apr 16, 2008, 8:00 PM

Post #280 of 430 (7531 views)
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Re: [keliz308] Verdict Can't Post

Tuition for one year is approximately $40,000.


h orange


Apr 17, 2008, 2:56 PM

Post #281 of 430 (7445 views)
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Re: [keliz308] Package Envy ! Can't Post

Sorry, I forgot to respond to you! Did you make your decision?

For me, personally, the decision was easy: I received a good offer from Columbia, and only one other acceptance, un-funded, from a school I was no longer really interested in. BUT, these are a few things I like about Columbia, that may likely have pushed me in their direction, if I had had a real decision to make: (1) I like the professors. (2) I love that they offer all those interesting seminars. I like that they're in the department, so they're geared toward writers, but that there are a ton of choices, so it's not like everyone is in one mandatory craft seminar. I like that we take a lot of courses. (3) I like recent graduates of the program. (4) New York!

Tuition for 2008-09 is $41,000. I think it will go up a little next year.


Clench Million
Charles

Apr 17, 2008, 3:00 PM

Post #282 of 430 (7444 views)
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Re: [h orange] Package Envy ! Can't Post

If anyone has accepted an offer from Columbia for fiction, feel free to PM me and I'll give you list of professors and classes I think are the best. I had a student do this for me when I was accepted and found it enormously helpful.

Good luck with everyone's decisions.


upsetme


Apr 19, 2008, 12:04 AM

Post #283 of 430 (7341 views)
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In Reply To
Upset me-- Did you make your decision yet about Columbia vs. New School? If so, why did you choose THE ONE? I'm in the same boat...


I went with Columbia. They offered me a much better package. I also really like the class list and full-time immersion aspect opposed to night classes. The fact that the NS didn't return my calls or emails didn't help either.


h orange


Apr 23, 2008, 1:18 PM

Post #284 of 430 (7208 views)
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Open House? Can't Post

Did anyone go to the open house last week? Anything interesting to report?

Not that there's anything specific I want to find out ... just procrastinating and dreaming of the days when I'll work on fiction instead of grant proposals ...


LauraJean1


Apr 29, 2008, 12:37 PM

Post #285 of 430 (7098 views)
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Re: [h orange] Open House? Can't Post

I've got my CUID, but has anyone received their UNI number yet?


upsetme


Apr 30, 2008, 1:13 AM

Post #286 of 430 (7018 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Open House? Can't Post

I missed the open house, but I'll be in the city May 10-14. Any students, new or old, want to meet up?


kijordan


May 14, 2008, 4:12 AM

Post #287 of 430 (6889 views)
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Columbia E-Mail Addresses ? Registering For Classes ? Can't Post

Has anyone received information about registering for classes, getting a CU e-mail address, etc. ? I actually already have the course packet from my visit in late March, but I was wondering if anyone had heard anything about actual registration.


upsetme


May 14, 2008, 10:29 AM

Post #288 of 430 (6865 views)
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Re: [kijordan] Columbia E-Mail Addresses ? Registering For Classes ? Can't Post

You setup email and the like by activating your UNI here: http://uni.columbia.edu/.

As for registration, though, I don't know ... Anyone?


kijordan


May 14, 2008, 11:13 AM

Post #289 of 430 (6857 views)
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Re: [upsetme] Columbia E-Mail Addresses ? Registering For Classes ? Can't Post

Oh, excellent. Thank you !


LauraJean1


May 14, 2008, 11:40 AM

Post #290 of 430 (6845 views)
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Re: [upsetme] Columbia E-Mail Addresses ? Registering For Classes ? Can't Post

Were you able to successfully activate your Uni? I cannot. I called the Technology Helpdesk yesterday and they said that I had not been assigned a UNI yet.

If you have a Uni, and I do not have a Uni, then I need to call student services to make sure all is okay. Please let me know whether you've had any success / or not!

Thanks--


(This post was edited by LauraJean1 on May 14, 2008, 11:41 AM)


dylanvitti


May 14, 2008, 11:52 AM

Post #291 of 430 (6839 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Columbia E-Mail Addresses ? Registering For Classes ? Can't Post

I just set mine up and didn't run into any difficulty.
Perhaps things are just slow within the SoA/Graduate School/Technology Department lines?


LauraJean1


May 14, 2008, 12:04 PM

Post #292 of 430 (6834 views)
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Re: [dylanvitti] Columbia E-Mail Addresses ? Registering For Classes ? Can't Post

Did you "look up" your UNI or did you have it already to activate?


dylanvitti


May 14, 2008, 12:24 PM

Post #293 of 430 (6821 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Columbia E-Mail Addresses ? Registering For Classes ? Can't Post

I clicked "look up UNI" and then searched for myself. And there I was.
Good luck!


scheherazade


May 15, 2008, 1:01 AM

Post #294 of 430 (6763 views)
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Re: [kijordan] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

So... just on the funding issue, for future applicants. I realize things have been changing and probably will continue to change in future years. But if you basically couldn't afford to pay anything for school and had limited options to work part-time, would you even bother applying to Columbia?


Clench Million
Charles

May 15, 2008, 2:15 AM

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Re: [scheherazade] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

Columbia has some fully funded spots right now. not many of them, but then again some other top programs only have a handful of spots total.

Personally, I'd advise people to apply to as many of the to programs as possible then decide where to go when you see who takes you and what offers you get.


switchthai


May 15, 2008, 8:45 AM

Post #296 of 430 (6739 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

  How many fully-funded spots are there for first-year students, actually, Clench?

I was offered a fellowship of $20,500 per year this year at Columbia and I was told that it's the biggest fellowship they give out. This was for NF, perhaps it's different for fiction.


(This post was edited by switchthai on May 15, 2008, 8:46 AM)


h orange


May 15, 2008, 2:44 PM

Post #297 of 430 (6692 views)
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Re: [switchthai] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

I was told they gave two $41,000/year fellowships this year. So not many, but definitely a big step in the right direction!


switchthai


May 15, 2008, 7:02 PM

Post #298 of 430 (6649 views)
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Re: [h orange] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

ahh! those flatterers. they lied to me!

unless, were those $41,000 for fiction?


scheherazade


May 15, 2008, 9:04 PM

Post #299 of 430 (6631 views)
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Re: [switchthai] Funding News, Finally Can't Post


In Reply To
ahh! those flatterers. they lied to me!

unless, were those $41,000 for fiction?


Might be different for fiction/nonfiction, dependng on how the department is structured, so don't let that get you down ($20K is still pretty awesome!) So even the biggest fellowship isn't exactly a "full ride" in the sense that some schools provide you enough to live on for the year. Do you need to have strong parental support or a trust fund to pay for a program like this? For those of you without an endless pot of money for education, what things have you done to make this program financially feasible?


Clench Million
Charles

May 16, 2008, 1:44 PM

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Re: [switchthai] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

I have only heard about them for fiction. It is quite possible the fiction segment gets more funding, as they take more students and are a larger part of the program.

Plus, half the non-fiction people here already have book deals so they don't need it as much as us poor poets and story writers.


Clench Million
Charles

May 16, 2008, 1:48 PM

Post #301 of 430 (7154 views)
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Re: [scheherazade] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

scheherazade:

MFA programs that pay a stipend for living expenses almost universally require you to work for the university, either as a TA or for the lit journal, etc.

Not to say that isn't a great gig. I'd rather be paid to have a part-time job TAing classes than flipping burgers, but Columbia's fellowships aren't tied to any work requirements, so it would be easy to have a part time job to pay the housing and living bills if you got a full ride.


kijordan


May 20, 2008, 5:51 AM

Post #302 of 430 (7048 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

I imagine the fellowships are even smaller for poetry, no ? It's a smaller part of the program and not nearly as lucrative a genre as Fiction/Non-Fiction. Not to reduce art to finance, but everyone knows that these schools understand that poetry is not the most "remunerative" or rewarding investment. When's the last time a book of poetry was a bestseller ? Anyway, I guess I'm trying to fish around to see how paltry my offer was compared to some of the others. $20,000 sounds like a goldmine to me. Any poets see number like these ?


scheherazade


May 22, 2008, 12:14 AM

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Re: [Clench Million] Funding News, Finally Can't Post


In Reply To
scheherazade:

MFA programs that pay a stipend for living expenses almost universally require you to work for the university, either as a TA or for the lit journal, etc.

Not to say that isn't a great gig. I'd rather be paid to have a part-time job TAing classes than flipping burgers, but Columbia's fellowships aren't tied to any work requirements, so it would be easy to have a part time job to pay the housing and living bills if you got a full ride.



True, but having to come up with, what, another $15-20K+ per year (beyond what the largest scholarship would cover) for meager living expenses at Columbia would still require a pretty fantastic part-time job or hefty savings account. As a non-US citizen, my options for part-time employment and student loans are pretty limited, so in spite of how fantastic this program sounds (the comedy writing resources alone are phenomenal) it still seems out of reach for me even under the best circumstances.


upsetme


May 22, 2008, 3:55 PM

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Re: [scheherazade] Funding News, Finally Can't Post

Tuition plus cost-of-living, according to the university's budget, is $64,554 a year. That includes $43,784 for tuition and fees, $14,400 for room and board, $2,000 for books, $900 for travel and $3,470 for personal/other.

The "year" they define as Fall and Spring semester. That said, every student I've talked with said you can live way, way, way under that for the full 12 months. Regardless, the student "builds" toward that goal with a combination of fellowships, outside aid, federal and private loans. Some, I'm told, with heavy prospective private loans, decide on going smaller than $64K. That seems dangerous to me in the first year.

Of course, this doesn't consider paid internships, work study and part-time employment -- all of which I'm told are abundant.

Hope that helps,


(This post was edited by upsetme on May 22, 2008, 4:01 PM)


kijordan


Jun 26, 2008, 8:43 AM

Post #305 of 430 (6752 views)
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Courses Can't Post

Have any of you registered for classes ? Does anyone know how ? I think I haven't been paying attention to the e-mails because I'm still not sure if I'm going (though I've put my deposit down). But if I do go, I don't want to get stiffed on the classes !

Anyone ?


h orange


Jun 26, 2008, 12:41 PM

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Re: [kijordan] Courses Can't Post

Hmmm ... I don't think we were supposed to register for classes ...

From the last email, it sounds like the writing division will be mailing us something, with info on orientation, etc., so maybe we'll find out about class registration then?


LauraJean1


Jul 6, 2008, 3:20 PM

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Re: [h orange] Courses Can't Post

The last email I got included an attachment with the list of classes offered and a link to a site where you can rank which classes you want in order of preference.

Choosing was tough!


Raysen


Jul 28, 2008, 3:08 AM

Post #308 of 430 (6516 views)
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Re: New York City location Can't Post

Hi folks,

This is my first post ever on this forum. I spent many hours reading virtually every thread in the "MFA Programs" subforum and learned quite a bit.

I have one concern wrt Columbia: location. Many people stated over and over again how New York City was such a huge draw. I understand the arguments -- publishing mecca, vibrant urban center, nightlife, resources, etc. For me though, I can't get over the fact that New York is dangerous. Or so I've heard. Columbia is located in Harlem. There are muggings and assaults and homicides daily.

Also, where do you Columbia students live? I'd hate to commute all the way to New York from Brooklyn or the Bronx or Queens. I've never lived in New York so, for the most part, I don't know what the heck I'm talking about either.

Anyway, if someone could address my two concerns about Columbia:

1) safety of area in the vicinity of Columbia's campus, and
2) place of residence.


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 28, 2008, 11:34 AM

Post #309 of 430 (6488 views)
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Re: [Raysen] New York City location Can't Post

Raysen:

Columbia is located in Morningside Heights, which isn't really Harlem (although it is right below Harlem).


Quote
For me though, I can't get over the fact that New York is dangerous.


New York is not very dangerous. In fact, it has been ranked as the safest of the very large US cities for awhile. Here is another report that puts New York as the fifth safest city with a population over 500+.

Major cities will probably always have more crime than small suburban towns, but New York is a far cry from Detroit or Baltimore. Unless you are planning to avoid all large cities in your MFA hunt, I wouldn't worry about crime in new york. It has a lower crime rate than Chicago, Boston, DC , Houston... well, every other major US city.

Which isn't to say I'd live just anywhere. If you are concerned about crime it probably wouldn't be a good idea to live deep in harlem. Columbia university has housing in morningside heights that is a relatively good deal monetarily. There are also security guards that patrol Columbia university and its surrounding buildings and streets.

I'd say most students live either in Columbia housing or in apartments nearby (the area below Columbia is a good one.) A few people live up in Harlem and the remainder live in Brooklyn or the upper east side.

But if you are from far away, I think Columbia housing should be pretty easy to get and probably your best bet.


Raysen


Jul 28, 2008, 12:30 PM

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Re: [Clench Million] New York City location Can't Post

Thanks, Clench Millon!

Sadly, I'm a victim and a sucker for all the bad media New York City gets. Of course, it doesn't help that I watch Law & Order all the time!

(I also noticed another thread on MFA location, which my posts probably belong.)

Thanks again.


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 28, 2008, 5:56 PM

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Re: [Raysen] New York City location Can't Post

Well, NYC did used to have a crazy crime rate. For a long time. But in the 90s it dropped a ton and now it is very very low. There has been a lot of debate about why (broken window theory? better policing? abortions [according to Freakonomics]?) but in any event, as far as major US cities go, New York is the safest now.


v1ctorya


Jul 29, 2008, 11:09 AM

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Re: [Raysen] New York City location Can't Post

I went there undergrad, and came from a smallish town.

I've lived here every since and feel WAY safer here than I did in my small town. And that's as a paranoid single woman.

There are many safe places in NYC, plus, just stay aware, take those ipod earphones out of your ears so you can hear what's going on around you, and you'll be fine. In fact, the only issues I've ever had have been with rude tourists.

Of course, this all goes to what you consider scary. I'm used to ethnic diversity and so feel more comfortable in Washington Heights (about a 10-15 minute train ride uptown with way more reasonable rent prices than closer to the University) but know people that say they aren't afraid yet cross the street to avoid more than one or two latino persons walking together.


aiyamei


Jul 29, 2008, 1:27 PM

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I also went to Columbia undergrad, and seriously, DO NOT get all up-in-arms about safety issues. You'd be shooting yourself in the foot. Morningside Heights is a wonderful area; within a few weeks of arriving I knew the people who ran the businesses all up and down Broadway. There's a de facto neighborhood watch...it's charming and funny and friendly and my years there were some of the happiest of my life. Read _The Death and Life of Great Americans Cities_ if you want to understand why a neighborhood like Morningside Heights is safer than your average suburban road after dark.

But I'll stop with the propagandizing and simply say: go there, go up to Columbia, or just visit NYC, and if you still feel threatened, then don't apply. But don't judge before you know.

I suppose if you are a poet you can afford to shut yourself in, la Emily Dickinson, and maintain such misconceptions about the big city, but if your genre is fiction go and see for yourself how lovely it is!


Scarlo


Jul 29, 2008, 5:30 PM

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Re: [aiyamei] New York City location Can't Post

 
I live downtown, but have a ton of friends who went Columbia. Never heard one complaint about safety. People need to remember that this isn't the New York of the 1970s. It's a very safe city relative to other cities of its size.


ny23


Jul 30, 2008, 8:47 AM

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Re: [Raysen] New York City location Can't Post

I went to Columbia for my MFA. Morningside Heights is a safe neighborhood -- especially if you stay around the campus. The School of the Arts is near the 116th entrance right off Broadway, a safe spot. Students were cautioned not to go into Morningside Park alone at night when I was there, and I do know of some muggings (then and recently) closer to 125th and Amsterdam Avenue. Just be vigilant and smart, as you would in any city. Campus is especially safe -- it's walled in, and beautiful. Who couldn't love it?!

As a grad student at Columbia, you can qualify for graduate student housing, which is off-campus in the apartment buildings all around campus. If you apply for housing from within NY, you'll have a hard time getting it and may be waitlisted, but if you apply from outside NY you are pretty much guaranteed an apartment, which is what happened to me. I lived on 112th Street and then on 113th Street, good, safe blocks. The housing is so good (and is subsidized, so significantly cheaper than the usual rents in the city) that I extended my enrollment as a research-arts student for as long as I could to keep the apartment and stay in the area.

If you're going, apply for graduate student housing for sure. Most likely you'll get a shared apt. with a roommate. If you're married/with a partner, you can apply for a one-bedroom. It's very worth it. And it's great to be so close to campus. I live downtown now, but miss the area a lot.

Good luck!


Raysen


Jul 30, 2008, 11:19 AM

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Re: New York City location Can't Post

Thanks to all who replied. I'm now more excited to go to Columbia than ever! (Now, all I need to do is apply and get that damn acceptance letter!)

Are there meal plans at the graduate housing or other dorms I could sign up for, or is it just better to take this opportunity to eat in the many fine cafes and diners and restaurants of NYC?


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 30, 2008, 12:53 PM

Post #317 of 430 (6305 views)
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Re: [Raysen] New York City location Can't Post

I've never heard of a meal plan for graduate students. Graduate housing is just apartment buildings the school owns, they aren't dorms. No cafeterias in the basement or anything. I guess it might be possible to get on a meal plan and eat in the undergrad dorm cafeterias.... but there are plenty of restaurants and grocery stores in the area. Food shouldn't be a problem.


ny23


Jul 30, 2008, 7:10 PM

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Re: [Raysen] New York City location Can't Post

I second what Clench Million said above... the graduate housing is just an apartment in a university-owned (and thus rent-subsidized) building. It's not at all like a dorm.

But, graduate students can get meal plans:
http://www.columbiauniversity.org/cu/dining/docs/about-us/policies-procedure.html#upperclass

Not sure why you'd want to, though! Your apartment will have a kitchen (even if it is as small as a closet, as was mine).


switchthai


Jul 31, 2008, 1:35 AM

Post #319 of 430 (6253 views)
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Re: [ny23] New York City location Can't Post

I'm starting at Columbia's MFA this fall. I live in Brooklyn off the D and N trains and it's a 45 minute commute door to door. I look at this as the perfect amount of time to get reading done. I have scandalously cheap rent and a nice back yard, and I'm sick of moving.

There are lots of great safe places to live in New York.


cookie1984


Aug 6, 2008, 12:33 AM

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Re: [LauraJean1] Courses Can't Post

has anyone heard back about their schedules for the fall? in the email christine mentioned they'd be done early august. thanks!


LauraJean1


Aug 6, 2008, 4:03 PM

Post #321 of 430 (6132 views)
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Re: [cookie1984] Courses Can't Post

No word yet. Eek! And now I am second guessing all the choices I made....


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 6, 2008, 7:12 PM

Post #322 of 430 (6111 views)
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Re: [LauraJean1] Courses Can't Post


In Reply To
No word yet. Eek! And now I am second guessing all the choices I made....


Don't worry. People change classes a lot. Just get on the waiting list for ones you want and you shouldn't have a problem.


Raysen


Aug 12, 2008, 8:58 PM

Post #323 of 430 (6059 views)
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Pets Can't Post

Okay, bizarre question for you New York city dwellers:

If I had a pet (say, a dog), is living in the city out of the question? Does graduate housing prohibit dogs?


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 13, 2008, 11:03 PM

Post #324 of 430 (6022 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Pets Can't Post


In Reply To
Okay, bizarre question for you New York city dwellers:

If I had a pet (say, a dog), is living in the city out of the question? Does graduate housing prohibit dogs?



I have no idea about graduate housing, but tons and tons of people live in NYC with dogs. There are a lot of parks around Columbia and a few dog parks in Riverside Park I think.


jaywalke


Aug 14, 2008, 7:30 AM

Post #325 of 430 (6002 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Pets Can't Post


In Reply To
Okay, bizarre question for you New York city dwellers:

If I had a pet (say, a dog), is living in the city out of the question? Does graduate housing prohibit dogs?


That depends on your living situation. How much are you going to be home? Will you have a roommate? Do you have time in your schedule to go to the park for an hour every single day? Forcing a pack animal to be alone most of the time in an apartment is a kind of punishment.

Two little dogs can keep each other company. A cat is still likely a better option for NYC. I used to live in the Shitty, but waited until I escaped before I got my big dawgs.


luukhoi


Sep 6, 2008, 12:44 AM

Post #326 of 430 (13339 views)
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question about Columbia workshops Can't Post

Hi everyone,
I'm thinking about applying to Columbia for fiction.
Quick question for Clench Milion and other Columbia students, past and present.

Clench had said:

"I guess I should also say that, agian due to the variety and amount of classes offered, it should not be too hard to get all your classes at night if you were so inclined. There are a few classes that start at 10 or 11, but most are more like 4 or 5 and there are enough classes after 5 that you could probably have them all at night if you needed."

My situation is the opposite: I work evenings and nights, and would love it if I could take Columbia classes in the mornings and afternoons. I understand, from the website, that Columbia students can take seminars and master classes in the mornings and afternoons--but what about the workshops? At what time do the (fiction) workshops usually end? If I'm lucky enough to get accepted to Columbia, can I arrange it so that all my classes, workshops and all, end at about 4 PM or 5 PM?

Thanks for any help you can give me.
Khoi

p.s. Can you also confirm that at Columbia (for fiction) a student takes 1 workshop per semester=4 workshops in all?


Raysen


Sep 6, 2008, 9:15 PM

Post #327 of 430 (13282 views)
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Class scheduling Can't Post

luukhoi brought up an interesting point.

Would a regular fulltime MFA student ever be forced to take night classes at Columbia? Call me a coward but I don't see myself walking around at night at Columbia, unlike, say, Iowa City or Ann Arbor or Fort Collins or Charlottesville. Having said that, I've never visited Morningside Heights or the Columbia campus, so I really don't know.


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 7, 2008, 5:56 PM

Post #328 of 430 (13238 views)
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Re: [luukhoi] question about Columbia workshops Can't Post

Gah! My message got erased, so here is the quick version.

Luukhoi,

Yes, 1 workshop per semester, four workshops total.

No, you won't have any problem taking workshops in the morning or afternoons. They are spread throughout the day.

I think I was wrong in that quote of mine. Most classes are probably in the afternoon (starting between 12 and 4), not at night. Not sure what I was thinking. The classes are spread pretty well out through the day and there are enough options that you should have on problem taking all early classes or all late classes.

Raysen,

See above, you shouldn't have any problem with scheduling.

I'd add, however, that NYC has long been rated the safest major US city. The crime rate is very low, it isn't the 70s anymore. I'd avoid parks at 3 am, but otherwise you shouldn't have a problem. Morningside Heights in particular is very safe and Columbia police officers patrol the area all around Columbia. Crime really shouldn't be a worry for NYC schools these days.

Good luck with everything!


Raysen


Sep 8, 2008, 12:08 PM

Post #329 of 430 (13189 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] question about Columbia workshops Can't Post

Thanks, Clench, for all things Columbia!!!


DylanTaiNguyen


Sep 15, 2008, 4:57 AM

Post #330 of 430 (13087 views)
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Slightly Off Topic: having both an M.A. and an M.F.A.? Can't Post

Hello everyone,
In 1996, I received an M.A. in Fiction from Boston University (a degree that's now been changed to an M.F.A.) The thing is: I want to go back to school, specifically to get an M.F.A. at Columbia, also in Fiction. Am I crazy? Probably. But I feel that I still have so much MORE to learn, and I've been craving a literary community, and time to write, and more advanced craft classes....

Also, in 1994, I was accepted to Columbia, but got no funding whatsoever. B.U. gave me a teaching fellowship. Still, Columbia was my dream school all along.

My question: will the Columbia admissions committee think that I'm out of my mind? Will they somehow discriminate against me because I already have an M.A.? For the record, I did fine at B.U. The program was simply too short for me. One-year: four workshops. It seemed that I blinked, and it was over. Like a summer love affair. Also, I went to B.U. straight out of college. I think I'd get so much more out of the degree now that I'm in my mid-thirties.

Actually, I've done some research, and I've discovered that Z.Z. Packer ("Drinking Coffee Elsewhere") has both an M.A. from Johns Hopkins and an M.F.A. from Iowa. And one of the Columbia professors, Lucy Brock-Boido has two Masters degrees as well. So I think my situation is not unheard of.

But I'd appreciate any feedback anyone can give. Based on your insider's view, would the Columbia professors give my candidacy serious consideration? Might they disqualify me somehow? Or is my situation a lot more common than I realize?

I hope that the committee will see my decision to get another creative writing degree as evidence of my passion and my willingness to continue learning. The (sort of) problem is that I'm a very very slow writer. I don't want them to think that I'm semi-retarded or something. ;-) In the past 12 years, I've published only 3 short stories. That's awfully slow. I'm not ashamed of this fact, though, because I've also been working as an entrepreneur, a job that allows me only about 1 hour of writing time a day. Do I bring all this up in my application? Basically, it all boils down to the fact that I want to keep learning, but I don't want the committee to feel that I'm all washed up, or that I don't have a burning drive to write.

Thanks in advance for any help/advice.

Dylan Nguyen


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 18, 2008, 10:45 AM

Post #331 of 430 (12987 views)
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Re: [DylanTaiNguyen] Slightly Off Topic: having both an M.A. and an M.F.A.? Can't Post

Dylan:

That is an interesting question and I don't know the answer. I don't see any reason to think that Columbia would be more or less likely to accept someone with an MA than any other program.

Which is to say, maybe you should move your question to the Choosing an MFA thread or another more general thread and see what the community at large thinks about MFA programs accepting people with MA degrees.

My gut feeling is that it wouldn't make a huge difference and, in fact, you probably could simply not tell the programs you apply too... but I don't know.

Good luck with everything!


CalBoy


Dec 23, 2008, 10:49 AM

Post #332 of 430 (12842 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Slightly Off Topic: having both an M.A. and an M.F.A.? Can't Post

Are there any Columbia MFA students or alumni around? Apart from wanting to know how you've found the program, I have some specific questions I'd like to pose. =]


Raysen


Jan 13, 2009, 12:39 AM

Post #333 of 430 (12719 views)
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Columbia Can't Post

After much deliberation this past fall, I decided against applying to Columbia. It doesn't need another celebrity than the one (James Franco) already on campus. It's funny how Columbia went from #1 on my list at the beginning of summer to dropping out entirely by November. I think all the anti-Columbia sentiment convinced me. As my s.o. says about me time and time again, "You're too weak-willed."


__________



Jan 13, 2009, 1:29 AM

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Re: [Raysen] Columbia Can't Post

After all this talk, I'm going to be severely disappointed if you turn out to be some cast member from like the Real World - Road Rules Challenge Season 20. You better deliver!

(Current theory: Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond).


six five four three two one 0 ->


NickMcRae
Nick McRae


Jan 13, 2009, 7:12 PM

Post #335 of 430 (12623 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Columbia Can't Post

We established this before. Raysen is Anthony Michael Hall from "Sixteen Candles." Har har har.

NM


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/


Raysen


Jan 13, 2009, 8:22 PM

Post #336 of 430 (12599 views)
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Re: [NickMcRae] Columbia Can't Post

And also "The Dead Zone" TV series on cable.


JarvisHTR


Jan 14, 2009, 3:27 PM

Post #337 of 430 (12526 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Columbia Can't Post

If you are a celebrity and have a bit of money to spend, I would strongly consider Columbia. I'm lucky enough to have some financial support and I think the courses, faculty, master seminars etc. are the best that's out there. Plus, who the hell wants to teach intro composition a bunch of pseudo-intellectual college students? You get a hell of a lot of value from CU, and if they threw in a partial or full tuition fellowship, the debt load wouldn't be that hard. Especially once you consider the increased financial aid the second year. I say go for it. Besides, to be oh so tacky about it - but you know this is true - why gamble with your career going to some cow college in shitsville?


(This post was edited by JarvisHTR on Jan 14, 2009, 3:31 PM)


Raysen


Jan 14, 2009, 3:31 PM

Post #338 of 430 (12521 views)
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Re: [JarvisHTR] Columbia Can't Post

The love is gone...


JarvisHTR


Jan 14, 2009, 3:42 PM

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Re: [Raysen] Columbia Can't Post

Where did you do your undergrad? I know it feels like you're being financially raped, but seriously James Woods, Samuel Lipsyte, Ben Marcus... you only live once! But hey, I'm not going to talk you out of it. I don't want you snatching my slot.


umass76


Jan 14, 2009, 3:47 PM

Post #340 of 430 (12507 views)
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Re: [JarvisHTR] Columbia Can't Post

the courses, faculty, master seminars are the best that's out there. Plus, who the hell wants to teach intro composition a bunch of pseudo-intellectual college students?...I say go for it...why gamble with your career going to some cow college in shitsville?

LOL

there's no one more provincial than a New Yorker

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jan 14, 2009, 3:49 PM)


JarvisHTR


Jan 14, 2009, 3:47 PM

Post #341 of 430 (12505 views)
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Re: [DylanTaiNguyen] Slightly Off Topic: having both an M.A. and an M.F.A.? Can't Post

I know a bit about fine arts MFA admissions and some schools are reluctant to take on students who have an established practice, just because they've already found their voice and wouldn't benefit as much from their instruction. If you can make a compelling argument why you need the MFA then it sounds as though your work is up to par.


Raysen


Jan 14, 2009, 3:48 PM

Post #342 of 430 (12504 views)
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Re: [JarvisHTR] Columbia Can't Post

Speaking of James Woods, did you know that James Woods the actor did his undergrad in engineering at MIT?

Garry Shandling also studied Electrical Engineering at Arizona (or ASU).

Al Jarreau studied psychology (or something) at Iowa.

Whasserface Laura Linney did her undergrad at Juilliard and I don't even think she's a good actor.

Amazing...

Anyway, JarvisHTR, your coveted Columbia slot is safe from me.


JarvisHTR


Jan 14, 2009, 3:57 PM

Post #343 of 430 (12496 views)
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Re: [umass76] Columbia Can't Post

Who says I'm a New Yorker? Anyway, I'm being facetious but I don't think paying tuition for a great program is such a bad idea. I made enough coming out of undergrad to support myself and pay my off my student loans in a writing field. And Raysen, James Woods (or is it Wood? I never remember) went to Oxford. EDIT: I skipped over the 'actor' bit in your response.


(This post was edited by JarvisHTR on Jan 14, 2009, 3:58 PM)


JarvisHTR


Jan 14, 2009, 4:01 PM

Post #344 of 430 (12491 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Columbia Can't Post

Raysen, have you ever posted on AutoAdmit? If you have, I think I know who you are. You should tell everyone, it's funny.


Raysen


Jan 14, 2009, 4:14 PM

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Re: [JarvisHTR] Columbia Can't Post

I don't know what AutoAdmit is. I am only Raysen, no one else.


JarvisHTR


Jan 14, 2009, 4:18 PM

Post #346 of 430 (12468 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Columbia Can't Post

Someone else then. Never mind. Good luck!


PS: UMASS76: Iowa is nothing to be ashamed of.


NickMcRae
Nick McRae


Jan 14, 2009, 8:54 PM

Post #347 of 430 (12420 views)
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Re: [JarvisHTR] Columbia Can't Post

Raysen is not someone else. He is Anthony Michael Hall from "Sixteen Candles."

Looks like I'm going to have to make a "Raysen is Anthony Michael Hall" thread if I'm ever going to quit telling that joke.

NM


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/


JarvisHTR


Jan 15, 2009, 4:24 PM

Post #348 of 430 (12328 views)
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Re: [NickMcRae] Columbia Can't Post

Damn, Anthony Michael Hall got old.

Raysen's admitted to being a celebrity, and now he's being coy about it, so we know he can't keep it bottled up for long. The name could be a clue. (Ray, Raisin, etc.) She/He's most likely around 28, give or take a few years. Macaulay Culkin is about the same age, wrote a poorly reviewed novel in 2004, is surprisingly smart, lives in NYC and could probably use a career boost. No BA, but that isn't an absolute ding.

And can we stop with the Columbia-bashing? Aid isn't great there, no shit, it says so on the website. Who gives a fuck? If you are into meticulously-crafted sentence structure a la Gary Lutz, Gordon Lish, Lipsyte etc. why would go anywhere else? Can we talk about the program itself and not the most boring parts of it (i.e. admissions and aid)?


(This post was edited by JarvisHTR on Jan 15, 2009, 4:25 PM)


v1ctorya


Jan 16, 2009, 11:41 AM

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In Reply To
Can we talk about the program itself and not the most boring parts of it (i.e. admissions and aid)?



I can tell you that as an undergrad my writing/film sections were taught by the MFA peoples. Both the guy TAs I had were hawt (hormonal undergrad, that's what I remember about them first). One went on to marry rich, the other to work on the show Monk. They both, for the most part, knew their stuff. They liked that while a two year program, you could stay for up to five (note, this was in the late nineties, don't know how much has changed since then). Yes, money was an issue, but if you look at the list of graduate accomplishments, they're pretty much up there.

Also, the campus is great. There are lots of quiet corners to write, lots of sculptures to inspire. The lipschitz is amazing over the law library. The documentary about it being brought to Columbia even more so.

Putting aside (mine, and many peoples) number one concern about money, it does have a lot to offer.


JarvisHTR


Jan 16, 2009, 1:14 PM

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Re: [v1ctorya] Columbia Can't Post

I did my undergrad there too, in the School of General Studies. You must have graduated recently. When I was there it was all adjuncts teaching. But beautiful and rich MFA students doesn't sound too bad! Are you applying? I like that they have such a big class size, I feel there will be more students like me, writing realistic prose with a vague international sheen to it.


v1ctorya


Jan 16, 2009, 2:29 PM

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In Reply To
I did my undergrad there too, in the School of General Studies. You must have graduated recently. When I was there it was all adjuncts teaching. But beautiful and rich MFA students doesn't sound too bad! Are you applying? I like that they have such a big class size, I feel there will be more students like me, writing realistic prose with a vague international sheen to it.



Nope, I want to leave the city, sick of it. I applied to west coast schools mostly. Need to knock myself out of familiarity and routine.


JarvisHTR


Jan 16, 2009, 2:32 PM

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Re: [v1ctorya] Columbia Can't Post

Gotcha - sunlight, beaches, warmth, sound pretty damn good right now.


germericanqt


Jan 16, 2009, 2:36 PM

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The new Iowa Can't Post

I love how Columbia is this year's Iowa, even though they haven't actually done anything... last year everyone was bickering and freaking out about Iowa taking away first publication rights, this year everyone is freaking out/arguing about extortion at Columbia. People have to have their drama, I guess. :)


JarvisHTR


Jan 16, 2009, 2:39 PM

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Especially after the poor SoA just raised its financial aid packages - and in this economy!


JarvisHTR


Mar 4, 2009, 1:24 AM

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Re: [JarvisHTR] The new Iowa Can't Post

Anyone else accepted? I found out the other day. Still waiting on Hunter (likely a ding) and Brown but would rather go to CU. We could start a class of 2011 Facebook group and all join or something...


mobhaktuk


Mar 4, 2009, 1:31 PM

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Hi JarvisHTR, I was accepted to Columbia yesterday. I'm also waiting on Hunter :)


kianoosh


Mar 4, 2009, 2:38 PM

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columbia Can't Post

accepted to columbia this morning for non-fiction. ahhh - so excited. funding is a huge scary issue though. but, i feel like i am going to have to just make it work somehow....


JarvisHTR


Mar 4, 2009, 2:48 PM

Post #358 of 430 (8802 views)
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Re: [mobhaktuk] The new Iowa Can't Post

I think we're sunk re: Hunter, as you know doubt already know they informed the fiction and poetry people last week. I spoke with a current Columbia MFA student and she said the pace at Columbia is frantic - they are expected to read three books a week, crit 70 pages of student writing, electives on top of doing their own writing. But I think that's what I'm after, a mindbending experience within a big community of writers. How about you?


kianoosh


Mar 4, 2009, 8:37 PM

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the idea of columbia is very exciting- them seem to put a lot of thought into the shape of the program. i am wondering though how much i will be able to work while attending the program. just going to school for me is not an option - i have to earn my keep! anyone have any advice about this? does the program offer night classes?


JarvisHTR


Mar 4, 2009, 10:06 PM

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Congrats on the acceptance! There should be enough loans available to 'make it work,' I would imagine, but if you don't want debt it could be a problem. There must be part-time jobs available in NYC. During undergrad at CU I made about $25/hour part-time web-editing for a law magazine.


kianoosh


Mar 4, 2009, 10:22 PM

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yeah im not afraid of taking out the loans - i know i will have to. ive already taken out too many. im finishing up an MA at mcgill right now.

ill make it work somehow- the program is just tooooo good. ahhhh! im also waiting to hear from hunter and the new school. it sounds like you live in nyc- how long is the commute to columbia from brooklyn? i was in ny just last week but avoided all the campuses in fear that i would run into the offices and ask dumb questions.... but, my trip did give me a chance to fall in love with brooklyn.


JarvisHTR


Mar 4, 2009, 10:37 PM

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About a 45min to an hour, sort of depends which subway, the time of the day, where in Brooklyn etc. Definitely do-able. I feel the same about the loans, my attitude is like, if you're going to be an artist, you have to have the confidence that you're worth the best most intensive program. Otherwise what's the point?


kianoosh


Mar 4, 2009, 10:42 PM

Post #363 of 430 (8671 views)
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Re: [JarvisHTR] The new Iowa Can't Post

yeah i hear ya - i feel like if i didnt go just because of $$$ i would forever regret it. and columbia seems to really open some doors (at least partially).

hopefully we will be classmates next year...your genre is fiction right?


JarvisHTR


Mar 4, 2009, 10:46 PM

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Re: [kianoosh] The new Iowa Can't Post

Yeah! Though creative non-fiction is apparently where all the big book deals are going these days! Well good luck, I think if no one else does, I'll start a Columbia MFA writing Class of 2011 facebook site


kianoosh


Mar 4, 2009, 10:49 PM

Post #365 of 430 (8665 views)
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Re: [JarvisHTR] The new Iowa Can't Post

haha - facebook club. kind of hilarious! im on the facebook though, ill join your club.


JarvisHTR


Mar 4, 2009, 10:52 PM

Post #366 of 430 (8663 views)
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Re: [kianoosh] The new Iowa Can't Post

That way we can spy on the competition! But seriously, it's a great networking tool


kianoosh


Mar 4, 2009, 10:56 PM

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Re: [JarvisHTR] The new Iowa Can't Post

let me know when its up.


JarvisHTR


Mar 4, 2009, 10:58 PM

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Re: [kianoosh] The new Iowa Can't Post

Sure definitely, I'll glance around on Friday to see if anyone else has and if not, I'll make one


Khalilah


Mar 5, 2009, 2:12 AM

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Re: [Raysen] Class scheduling Can't Post

I know this is an old question but I just wanted to share for any people worried about this in the future that although there have been some robberies closer to morningside park, (when you get to Columbia you'll realize that's a different and literally darker side, i.e. less street lighting, of the neighborhood of Morningside Heights) the area around Columbia from 109th and Broadway to 121st and Broadway is like a college town. Columbia and Brooklyn College are the only schools in New York that I would go to without serious arm pulling because they both offer this aspect of the college experience (and Columbia even more so) albeit in a smaller square area than entire cities that are college towns. For the most part in the area that I just described and even on Amsterdam from 115th -120th, you do not have to worry about safety at all--in this area you have as much to worry about as you would any other college town. Unfortuneately I can tell you nothing about the scheduling of classes in the MFA program as I am a GS alumnae -- Hey GSers! -- who, like V1ctorya is going West or if there's any chance remaining that I got in, North, but not trying to stay at Columbia for two more years.

Good luck and congratulations to all of you Columbia MFA class of 2011ers.


v1ctorya


Mar 5, 2009, 5:20 AM

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Re: [Khalilah] Class scheduling Can't Post

Khal reminded me of something - we're leaving. That means our apartments will be theoretically available. In fact, if I can find someone to replace me in my apartment maybe it'll help me in my future case to extend the least to August.

For those coming to columbia or a NYC schools, seriously, PM me before you come up to visit and I'll give you a tour or my area. I live about 15 minutes from the Columbia campus and two blocks from the river.

When I was an undergrad people were scared to go above 125th street, but I love it. I feel my area is so safe because it's an old neighborhood feel. You know the cops, the little old ladies, the park rangers. When I was homebound after breaking both feet last year (which is incidently when I wrote the first draft of my submission peice) my neighbors brought me food. when my cat had cancer, I'd come home to 20$ bills slipped under the door.

It might be worth checking out neighborhoods the schools don't mention. There are a lot of amazing pockets in Manhattan that can be affordable.


Raysen


Mar 5, 2009, 1:15 PM

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Re: Why didn't I apply? Can't Post

Some days, I regret not applying to Columbia. I confess that I've been influenced by all the pro-con arguments that went down here this past Winter. (...that instigator Seth!!) God, sometimes I wasn't so weak-willed. But New York would've been a big change for me. Whatever...


JarvisHTR


Mar 5, 2009, 2:21 PM

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Facebook site Can't Post

Here's the Facebook site: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=58885401134 I left it open for artists, film and theatre people too... congrats everyone! It's called "Columbia SoA Class of 2011 Admits" hope it's of use to everyone


JarvisHTR


Mar 5, 2009, 3:00 PM

Post #373 of 430 (8502 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Why didn't I apply? Can't Post

Seth has a good point to make about the financial aid, but his focus on it obscures what I think are more important considerations to someone who wants to make writing a career. There seem to be two different types of program, the ones like Brown and Hunter where you are left alone to write for two years (albeit with a workshop, an elective or two and TA duties); then there are the more coursework-focused programs like Iowa and Columbia where there is a lot more attention paid to building a practice through classwork and exercises. You get what you pay for on some level and I think Seth glosses over this.


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Mar 11, 2009, 6:59 PM

Post #374 of 430 (8393 views)
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Re: [JarvisHTR] Why didn't I apply? Can't Post

James Franco is not taking Columbia seriously!

http://tinyurl.com/b38dfw

I hope they didn't give him funding...


six five four three two one 0 ->


moomoocow42


Mar 11, 2009, 7:18 PM

Post #375 of 430 (8372 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Why didn't I apply? Can't Post

Ha! I nominate your post to win this thread, Junior!


My MFA Blog -- Watch me slowly lose my sanity.


Raysen


Mar 11, 2009, 7:37 PM

Post #376 of 430 (9106 views)
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Re: [moomoocow42] Why didn't I apply? Can't Post

I've never slept in class. Physically and physiologically impossible for me. The closest I came to nodding off was during a Lorrie Moore reading. My god, I love that woman's writings but damn...she needs to work on her public reading skills.