Dec 3, 2007, 10:46 AM
Post #785 of 1172
Re: [EastCoastPoet] What are the odds?
[In reply to]
While I am in no way going to take the time or length to reply to all of that, (kudos to your dedication, Seth) you cannot be serious with all of that strained logic, can you? Iowa gets over 1000 applications, I'm sure. But why is that? I would gamble on saying a general consensus of the writing world would say Iowa is not the #1 MFA program in this country. Then why do they get so many applications? Not because "person A says to person B..." etc etc...but because they're Iowa! It's the same reason people go to Harvard, buy a Mercedes, and so on...
Iowa is not the best MFA program and Mercedes does not make the best cars. Simply put, it's almost at the level of tradition. Let the s**t storm begin!
I guess I'm willing to to be the first to ask... why not? Why isn't Iowa the best program? It has a great faculty, great reputation, great peer group and is normally listed as having the best publication success with only Columbia and UCI being close in that regard.
As far as I can tell, there are only two gripes I really hear about Iowa. One makes sense to me, one does not. First, people complain that they don't fully fund everyone. Frankly I don't see why this is so relevant. Iowa funds MORE people per year than most small fully funded programs and tuition is pretty low no matter what. Secondly, I've heard complaints that Iowa has a very narrow aesthetic amongst both its faculty and peers. This is I think a legitimate complaint and one that turns me off from Iowa personally, but Iowa's aesthetic seems to be the main aesthetic of literary fiction these days and the same one most programs focus on so if that is your bag, who beats Iowa? I'm sure we could squabble here about this or that program being better, but the bottom line is that Iowa is one of the absolute top programs in the country and whether you place it first or third or fifth seems fairly unimportant.
As has been mentioned by several posters already, the peer group is probably the most biggest factor in how your MFA experience unfolds and Iowa has one of the best peer groups.
Edited to add: Also, I guess it depends on what you are defining as "the writing world," but I pretty frequently hear Iowa called the best program by everyone from students to critics to publishing people.
Bowling Green is fully funded (around $8400/year) for all 10 students they accept per year. They're one of the few schools that enables their students to teach both years of the program (composition AND creative writing courses). And if that weren't enough, the students relationship to Mid-American Review is a requirement for at least one semester. Where's the downside? It's hard to see one...
Nothing against BG, but don't you find it a bit odd that nothing in your pitch has anything to do with, well, the point of an MFA program? Nothing about how classes work, who teaches classes, who is in your workshop, how alumni do... nothing about being taught and practicing creative writing.
I've worked for journals and taught so you don't have to convince me those things are good, but they aren't the point of an MFA program and not everyone who goes to an MFA program WANTS to teach or wants to work on a journal. While I understand how you can be wary of measuring programs based on applications received, faculty's perceived status, student publications and so on... because these things are both hard to measure and somewhat selective, it still seems far more rational to me than judging programs based on things that are really tangential to an MFA's central goal. Obviously as an individual you should judge a program based on whatever your own personal needs are (Queer student groups? Multiple lit mags? Small town location? etc.), but if we are judging them in general it seems like odd criteria to focus on.
(This post was edited by Clench Million on Dec 3, 2007, 10:50 AM)