Apr 12, 2007, 10:34 PM
Post #3195 of 6294
I also don't want to instigate anything, and don't claim to be an expert by any stretch. But I spent a few years at a West Coast writing program, went to a few conferences, talked to a lot of faculty at other places, etc. And this board is the only place where I've ever seen anybody refer to Irvine as the top program in the country. Everybody I've met seems to debate between Iowa, Columbia, and Hopkins. Most of the time I've heard Irvine referred to as the experimental place, or the program where Michael Chabon went.
Re: [BlueVelveeta] Greensboro and Irvine update
[In reply to]
Iowa's reputation, on the other hand, is stellar just about everywhere except for this board and in the nascent MFA-related blogosphere. If it wasn't, they couldn't even be accused of selling reputation.
If your writing tends toward the experimental, by all means choose Irvine. If reputation is your primary concern, choose Iowa. And of course, both are great programs, so you can never go wrong by following the funding.
And just to clarify, I have no horse in this race. Iowa rejected me, and I didn't apply to Irvine.
For what it's worth, despite the fact that Iowa seems to be the knee-jerk MFA program, there are plenty of people on this board and all over the writing world (myself included) that believe Iowa is selling reputation over quality. I say this not to start a debate on the subject, but just to illustrate that you can't worry too much about whether or not people on this board, or anywhere else, claim to "doubt" a school's reputation. If you've sought input, advice, and feedback, and arrived at the conclusion that a particular program is "good," you probably know better than all the nay-sayers combined.
Based on what I've heard from fellow writers, former teachers, folks I met at AWP a few years ago, and friends with MFAs, Irvine is widely regarded as the best and most promising MFA program in the country, period.
Thanks all the advice, everyone. In the next 24 hours I'll have to decide between the two. Iowa is offering a first year non-teaching fellowship--more money than Irvine ($2k more) and cheaper cost of living in Iowa City. Irvine, from what I gather my old writing profs at UVA, has all the current buzz. It is also smaller and located in a warm weather area. My writing profs tell me to take Irvine hands down, however plenty of people on this board doubt that Irvine has as great a reputation... Jesus my head is going to explode. I can't decide.