Jul 29, 2008, 1:44 PM
Post #123 of 328
Returning to the topic of Fiction Acceptance Rates:
My belief is that the acceptance rates for applicants is somewhat misleading. (People should correct me if I'm wrong) I'll give an analogy first. High school basketball. Let's say the they cut 90% of the kids who try out. All kids who are trying out are 5'5" tall and there's one kid 6'3". Sure, the acceptance rate is 10% but if you're 6'3", I think you have a better than 10% chance of getting in.
My point is, obviously, that the applicant pool is not filled with Michael Chabons, Deborah Eisenbergs, and John Cheevers. It's filled with Joe Bores and Jane Blands. Most of them can't write to save their lives. How do I know this? Well, I don't know for sure, obviously, unless I have some inside information from the Admissions office of these schools -- and I don't. But this is my guess because I have a data sample, albeit a limited sample.
I used to belong to two writing groups which were filled with people wanting to get an MFA. In fact, these people joined the writing groups so that they can get their writing sample "workshopped" by other like-minded writers. Let me tell you...oh, the horror!!... The short stories were absolute drivel. I couldn't believe how bad they were. And most of them were applying because they had nothing better to do, or hated their job, or wanted break from life. And it was never about wanting to be a serious writer of import.
So, we workshop these godawful writing samples and we wished each other luck with the application process. Some of my workshop mates eventually went to Brown, Michigan, Hollins, Arkansas, UC Davis (MA for creative writing), U Washington, and UNLV. I couldn't believe it! How did they end up where they ended up? This is not bitterness or jealousy talking. When I belonged to the group, it was mostly for fun. I had no plans to get an MFA myself; I just liked to write short stories and, most importantly, I just wanted others to read them and see how they'd react.
I now belong to a different writing group and same thing as before, some of the members are MFA-wannabes.
So, even if a school admits only 1-4% of the applicants, my guess is that (...and it's only a guess), that roughly 50% to 66% are terrible writers with no potential or hope for improvement. That increases your odds.
So, if you can write and write fairly well (but not perfect) and the rest of your application can't hurt you too much, don't worry about your prospects. If the bozos from my writing groups can get in with their sloppy writing samples, so can you.
(This post was edited by Raysen on Jul 29, 2008, 1:50 PM)