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umass76


Jun 30, 2007, 6:10 PM

Post #476 of 764 (13240 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Benny,

Clench makes a v. good point, I've definitely pointed to a worst-case scenario (I tend to think in risk-averse terms). While Cornell (for instance) is famous, apparently, for having a very high yield (one current student mentioned last year that around 80% of accepted students say "yes"), many schools--in fact nearly all schools--accept many more students than are actually admitted. Even so, if you do have the funds for 15 to 20 apps, that'd be my advice. Remember: you're not trying to calculate how many schools you'd have to apply to in order to get one acceptance; ideally, you want three or four acceptances, so that you have three or four funding packages to choose from (plus, the way life is, something or other will come up which makes one of the three or four schools you get into a non-option; maybe you'll visit and hate the location or the atmosphere, maybe you'll start reading the faculty's most recent work and dislike it, maybe you'll hear a horror-story about internal politics in the program, maybe you'll face a sudden and unexpected geographic limitation, who knows...!).

So, good luck!

Seth


bennyprof


Jun 30, 2007, 6:42 PM

Post #477 of 764 (13235 views)
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Re: [umass76] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Benny,

Clench makes a v. good point, I've definitely pointed to a worst-case scenario (I tend to think in risk-averse terms). While Cornell (for instance) is famous, apparently, for having a very high yield (one current student mentioned last year that around 80% of accepted students say "yes"), many schools--in fact nearly all schools--accept many more students than are actually admitted. Even so, if you do have the funds for 15 to 20 apps, that'd be my advice. Remember: you're not trying to calculate how many schools you'd have to apply to in order to get one acceptance; ideally, you want three or four acceptances, so that you have three or four funding packages to choose from (plus, the way life is, something or other will come up which makes one of the three or four schools you get into a non-option; maybe you'll visit and hate the location or the atmosphere, maybe you'll start reading the faculty's most recent work and dislike it, maybe you'll hear a horror-story about internal politics in the program, maybe you'll face a sudden and unexpected geographic limitation, who knows...!).

So, good luck!

Seth



Thanks. All very good points.


__________



Jul 1, 2007, 6:10 PM

Post #478 of 764 (13181 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Geez that's depressing. Are you one of the 30 best? Huh? Well, punk, are you?

If anything, I guess it should make us work that much harder. Still, I have to hold onto hope and sort of agree with Benny. It's not as bleak as it sounds. Last summer I got to read about fifteen or so of the stories that top programs accepted these past few years, and many more that were not. And as Benny sort of implies, where fiction's concerned, it looks pretty digital -- either you can do it or you can't. The majority of applicants couldn't; they repeated, in various combinations, the ten or so amateur mistakes that any writing book will identify.

And even more hopeful (depending on how you look at it), the majority of the top-20 bound are not writing anything guaranteed to blow your dress 100% up. Promise is what schools say they look for. And in this case, I believe them. Too many stories, I felt, showed nothing more than a total absorbtion of format. And by this, I guess I mean a couple of things. The first is that they were exquisitely punctuated. It seems that if it is within your power to open a university lit journal, note how the writers punctuate their dialogue and so forth, you're halfway there.

Beyond this, and still leaning more towards the craft than the art side, I would say, were things that made the work at least appear, to the reader's eye, like something legitimate (i.e. like most journal stories). And I do mean that literally. The stories physically looked 'correct'. They were split up into neat little digestible sections, set off by a double space. There was a mix of dialogue and description (and more heavy on the dialogue). They looked like stories.

But were they? Good ones? Surprisingly, no. A lot of them seemed like vessels, like molds. Like these guys had the format down, and might one day pour a real work into them.

Believe me, I used to cringe when I heard (here, second hand) the pompous things that administrators look for. "Humanity that curls from the page like smoke!" is what the one guy said, apparently. But after I read a few manuscripts? Now, not so much...

It's changed my views on the odds, and it's changed my application strategy. Now you can bet my packet will rotely physically resemble an administrator's idea of what's worthy.

What I worry about now is not the large applicant pool, or even the low acceptance rates. I worry about those rare few who do already write the humanity-curling stories, who are already publishable (and published), and where they'll apply. I believe a couple of last year's scary few are posting in this thread!


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Jul 1, 2007, 8:39 PM)


hamlet3145


Jul 1, 2007, 8:41 PM

Post #479 of 764 (13161 views)
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Re: [umass76] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Re:

Quote
Montana *** Very good reputation and a large school, [relatively-speaking] many applicants accepted.




Montana's apps were up 30% last year; not sure how the math works out but it's safe to say the acceptance rate is less than 10%. Also, I'd consider it a medium sized rather than large program. All Fiction, Poetry & Non-Fiction students combined is right around 40.


umass76


Jul 2, 2007, 9:20 PM

Post #480 of 764 (13085 views)
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Re: [Hamlet3145] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Hamlet,

Interesting to hear Montana's applications were up by that margin; I know that Massachusetts also had a record-high pool this past cycle. I think, where the top 25 programs are concerned (and Montana, to my mind, is definitely in that class), an acceptance rate around 10% would considered--only relatively speaking--"good" odds. If Montana's MFA were a law school, mind you, it would be harder to get into than every school in that field except Yale and maybe Harvard. But if we rank the top 25 programs (or some semblance of such a list) by acceptance rate, Montana and Arizona and Columbia come out as the "best" odds of getting in (that's my read of things, I am not claiming it's gospel, and not looking to argue/overstate the point). Please don't take that as any criticism of the program; in fact I imagine Montana will shortly be with UVA and Cornell and Brown and several others in having a 5% or so acceptance rate--until then, applicants have a year or two left where they might be able to get into a top school with a (relative to other top schools) higher-than-expected likelihood.

As to size, it's odd: I've been thinking of programs with 4 to 6 students per genre (Brown, Cornell, UVA, Mississippi, and so on) as "small," programs with 7 to 10 students per genre as "medium-size," and programs with 11 or more students per genre per year as "large"--only because, if you break down the top 100 programs or so, I think about 33% fall into each of those three categories. [NB: One wrench in that theory is that many schools have equally-sized poetry and fiction programs and then a smaller non-fiction class; so, if a school accepts 10 poets and 10 fiction-writers and 3 non-fiction writers, how would it be classified? I'll admit my site is geared toward the expectations/informational needs of poetry and fiction folks]. It seems that for every well-publicized outlier size-wise (e.g., Iowa with 25 per genre) there's one on the other end (Cornell, say, with 4 in each genre, or Wisconsin, which only accepts one miniscule class [per genre] every other year). People call Michigan a "large" program, but I believe it's only 12 per genre. That's just "large" for MFAs; obviously, to use the law school analogy again, Michigan's MFA would probably be the smallest law school in the country, or close to it. If Montana has 40 students in three genres total per year (I think I understood you right), that approx. 13-per-genre figure would actually put it, I think, in the "large" category. My website has a ranking of class sizes and I think it probably makes the point better than I'm making it here(!) Cheers,

Seth

PS In the event you meant that Montana has 40 students altogether--20 in each of two years of classes--I'm still pretty sure that accepting 20 students/year altogether (my website currently has 23 as the most recent figure) would put Montana in the mid-to-large category. [On the list I have, which includes 57 schools, 30 accept fewer than 20 students a year, 15 accept between 20 and 30, and 12 accept 30+ per year, making 23 slightly on the "larger" side].


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 2, 2007, 9:31 PM)


hamlet3145


Jul 2, 2007, 10:26 PM

Post #481 of 764 (13075 views)
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Re: [umass76] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Seth,

My last post was a bit terse due to time constraints; I didn't, at all, take your Montana info as a criticism. (Indeed, you were recommending it). As for the 30% increase in apps, I heard that figure from faculty members on two separate occasions. The potential reason is so goofy I hesitate to even mention it, but I know of nothing else (advertising, a sudden jump in funding, etc) that changed from the year before: we're the only graduate program linked on Tom Kealy's blog. And it's not to the official MFA webpage, which, like many MFA pages is largely a list of deadlines and regulations. What's linked is the unofficial page maintained by students and is . . . a bit more colorful. Also, the site was mentioned in a Poets & Writer's article last fall. Carter Benton, a current student who just won The Atlantic's student fiction contest, has told me that he picked the program because of the Spring Formal Pictures from 2005. (Yes, we have a spring formal. Yes, it's a joke). In any case, our new, full time, director, Prageeta Sharma has big plans for the "official" website which I'm pretty excited about. From what I've gathered, she'd like to make it much more interactive, even Facebook-like. Wouldn't be a bad idea to highlight Missoula a bit more too--I swear I feel like I'm getting an MFA at a hip literary mountain resort at times. Plus, there's bears.

Back on the subject of applying to programs. . . yes, wide net. Cast far and away.

--Jason

P.S. As for size, I think at some point in my brain I categorized programs this way: Small = 20 or less. Medium 20 - 50. Large = Everything bigger. Not very scientific, but then again I'm a poet.

Edit: Around 40 is the total for the entire program. So about 20 per year.


(This post was edited by Hamlet3145 on Jul 2, 2007, 10:28 PM)


EastCoastPoet


Jul 2, 2007, 11:27 PM

Post #482 of 764 (13061 views)
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Re: [umass76] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Just to throw out some more numbers, if I remember correctly Bowling Green State had in the vicinity of 400 applicants last go around (I'm assuming fiction and poetry combined) and they only accept 5 for each genre. If that's true, and my math skills haven't deteriorated too badly, that's a 2.5% acceptance rate. Also, if I remember correctly, Emerson had around 300 applicants (again, I'll assume combined?) and accepted 12-12-6, giving it a 10% acceptance rate. Don't quote me on these numbers, in fact don't quote me at all, but I found the stats interesting and thought I'd share what vague memories I have these days.

My advice? Apply to as many as you can afford! In the long run, especially if you get full funding from some place, a few hundred bucks is a small investment.


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 2, 2007, 11:40 PM

Post #483 of 764 (13058 views)
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Re: [Hamlet3145] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

P.S. As for size, I think at some point in my brain I categorized programs this way: Small = 20 or less. Medium 20 - 50. Large = Everything bigger. Not very scientific, but then again I'm a poet.

Edit: Around 40 is the total for the entire program. So about 20 per year.


Per genre, per class or per total program? There are only a few programs who even have a total class size of >50 (Iowa, Columbia, maybe Amherst, a handful more?) and I don't think any accept that many in one genre per year.


hamlet3145


Jul 2, 2007, 11:55 PM

Post #484 of 764 (13054 views)
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Re: [Clench Million] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

About 40 total students in the program. 22 new students (poetry + fiction + non-fiction) this year and about 18 from last year. (It's a two year degree).


motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
e-mail user

Jul 8, 2007, 11:17 PM

Post #485 of 764 (12610 views)
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Current MFA Rankings [In reply to] Can't Post

The off-topic (but very interesting) discussion concerning MFA application manuscripts/writing samples has been moved to the suggested topic
here --> Writing Sample.

......And now back to Current MFA Rankings.

Dana


umass76


Jul 10, 2007, 9:43 PM

Post #486 of 764 (12516 views)
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Re: [motet] Current MFA Rankings [In reply to] Can't Post

Just wanted to make sure folks know that Tom Kealey's Creative Writing MFA Blog--

http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/

--which helped inspire The Kealey Scale, is back in full force with a gaggle of new regular contributors.

S.


hamlet3145


Jul 16, 2007, 1:40 PM

Post #487 of 764 (12384 views)
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Re: [Hamlet3145] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

It's out: http://www.theatlantic.com/.../200708/mfa-programs

Just what the author considers to be the top 10. No ranking within the listing.


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Jul 16, 2007, 2:22 PM

Post #488 of 764 (12376 views)
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Re: [Hamlet3145] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks Jason for providing the link. I was a former subscriber to The Atlantic and, unfortunately, can't seem to read the rest of the article. Looks like I'll resort to buying the issue :)


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Jul 16, 2007, 2:28 PM

Post #489 of 764 (12373 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, scratch my previous posting; somehow I was able to log-in with my username and password and access the articles from the site. Anyone interested in reading any of the articles (and new fiction/poetry pieces in this issue), let me know.


umass76


Jul 17, 2007, 12:53 AM

Post #490 of 764 (12282 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, Guy!

Discussion and analysis, per usual, at TSE (most recent entry details/dissects the "findings" of The Atlantic); see here:

http://www.sethabramson.blogspot.com/

Be well everyone, and feel free to leave comments/thoughts in the TSE comment fields,

Seth


__________



Jul 17, 2007, 1:17 AM

Post #491 of 764 (12278 views)
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Re: [umass76] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's their top ten, in alphabetical order:

Boston University
University of California at Irvine
Cornell University
Florida State University
University of Iowa
Johns Hopkins University
University of Michigan
New York University
University of Texas, Michener Center
University of Virginia

I find a few of these slightly baffling. Texas, for instance, is just not a great school; it's got great funding.

I know Florida State's a good school, but as umass76 points out in his blog, this particular ranking has a lot to do with the number of stories it's placed with Best New American Voices. The reality is that one writer, Adam Johnson, appeared four times. (All of them can be found in Emporium, a swell collection). We also shouldn't discount that Robert Olen Butler exerts undue influence in these matters; like the Stegner, one of his recommendations to Tobias Wolfe or whoever will magically appear. So for me, this kind of throws Florida into doubt.

NYU? In this decade? It's in New York. That's about it.

Iowa's just a given, even when the current fiction folks are lackluster. Probably the only way to tell if it's the real deal is to actually go there...

I've only heard terrible things about Boston; terribly pricey, no funding, in-fighting, and...rumors of sexual harrassment? Hrm. But isn't Steve Almond there? That would be a plus.

Plus what's Irvine going to be like with no Geoffrey Wolfe?


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Jul 17, 2007, 1:21 AM)


bennyprof


Jul 17, 2007, 1:53 AM

Post #492 of 764 (12270 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

  

Quote
I find a few of these slightly baffling. Texas, for instance, is just not a great school; it's got great funding.



I was a little confused by your wording here... in saying it, did you mean, "Texas, for instance, is not only a great school, but it's got great funding as well" or "Texas, for instance, just isn't that great of a school, but it's got great funding." ...?






(This post was edited by bennyprof on Jul 17, 2007, 1:55 AM)


__________



Jul 17, 2007, 2:23 AM

Post #493 of 764 (12262 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry. That's just my laser bright prose thowing you off.

I meant that while UT has stellar funding, the actual program isn't top ten material. I've heard this from two former students, one here at P&W, one out in the real world. And I know they kind of have a revolving door of teachers, and some students would like more of a grounded approach.

On the other hand, you'll likely have a good peer group, Austin is full of Dell nerds, cops, and bats, and if you love those early twenties types with super-tight T-shirts, nose rings, and poor attitudes towards the kind of music you listen to, you're all set.


six five four three two one 0 ->


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 17, 2007, 2:26 AM

Post #494 of 764 (12261 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with Junior Maas. While they have the obvious picks there (Iowa, UCI, UVA, Michigan), some of these ranking seem pretty odd.
I buy JHU, but with the loss of Stephen Dixon it seems like their faculty is pretty uninteresting, for fiction at least, and that has to hurt them.

NYU makes little sense to me as it seems similar to Columbia except has a bit better funding, but a much less impressive faculty and alumni publication record.

UT-Austin, as has been pointed out by a lot of people on Speakeasy, really has nothing other than a great funding package. Is that alone enough to make the top 10?

BU and FSU also strikes me as odd choices.

For my money, I think Brown, Syracuse, Columbia and perhaps Indiana deserve placement above those.


bennyprof


Jul 17, 2007, 2:58 AM

Post #495 of 764 (12255 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Sorry. That's just my laser bright prose thowing you off.

I meant that while UT has stellar funding, the actual program isn't top ten material. I've heard this from two former students, one here at P&W, one out in the real world. And I know they kind of have a revolving door of teachers, and some students would like more of a grounded approach.

On the other hand, you'll likely have a good peer group, Austin is full of Dell nerds, cops, and bats, and if you love those early twenties types with super-tight T-shirts, nose rings, and poor attitudes towards the kind of music you listen to, you're all set.



Heh, no problem.

I've heard conflicting things about their circulating staff situation -- some say it's a good thing, as it exposes you to a lot of great writers; others point out their lack of long-term mentorship as a major disadvantage. I can see the validity in both points of view.

I lived in Austin for a year, so I know all about it. Wish I could refute your depiction of the average Austonian, but you just described about half of my friends! :)


vronsky


Jul 17, 2007, 7:28 AM

Post #496 of 764 (12246 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a friend at Austin now & he agrees that there's a problem w/ quality of instruction, at least within the MCW itself. He does admit that the money is awesome, however. Completely, utterly awesome. If you just want huge amounts of time to write with little to no meddling from the teachers there, MCW is great. At least, that's his take on it.

UT Austin *itself* strikes me as a great school. The philosophy dept. seems great, for instance. And I hear there's some really good cheese dip in that town.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Jul 17, 2007, 9:02 AM

Post #497 of 764 (12230 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Iowa's just a given, even when the current fiction folks are lackluster. Probably the only way to tell if it's the real deal is to actually go there...


Ouch.

Though, these days I am pretty lackluster, I'll admit. I blame the summer heat. And having to read too much undergraduate fiction.

I'd rather go to Florida than Florida State, though I think you could make an argument for either, or both, in the top tier. Michigan doesn't get enough props, in my opinion (are the kids still saying props?). From everything I've heard, it's a really great program, and Ann Arbor is like the Paris of Michigan.


bennyprof


Jul 17, 2007, 9:25 AM

Post #498 of 764 (12225 views)
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Re: [mingram] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To

Iowa's just a given, even when the current fiction folks are lackluster. Probably the only way to tell if it's the real deal is to actually go there...


Ouch.

Though, these days I am pretty lackluster, I'll admit. I blame the summer heat. And having to read too much undergraduate fiction.

I'd rather go to Florida than Florida State, though I think you could make an argument for either, or both, in the top tier. Michigan doesn't get enough props, in my opinion (are the kids still saying props?). From everything I've heard, it's a really great program, and Ann Arbor is like the Paris of Michigan.

JM, Were you talking about the faculty or the students? If it was the former, I'd be curious to know why you believe that's the case. Considering that 2 out of 4 of the permanent faculty at Iowa have won the Pulitzer, that seems a little rough. (Unless you know something I don't, which is a distinct possibility, as I don't know know much of anything about these places -- still learning.) Marilynne Robinson's presence alone would seem to lift the fiction dept. safely out of the the "lackluster" category.


harja


Jul 17, 2007, 7:10 PM

Post #499 of 764 (12139 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
But isn't Steve Almond there? That would be a plus.


It would?



toadvine


Jul 17, 2007, 7:43 PM

Post #500 of 764 (12130 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Benny [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Here's their top ten, in alphabetical order:

Boston University
University of California at Irvine
Cornell University
Florida State University
University of Iowa
Johns Hopkins University
University of Michigan
New York University
University of Texas, Michener Center
University of Virginia

I find a few of these slightly baffling. Texas, for instance, is just not a great school; it's got great funding.

I know Florida State's a good school, but as umass76 points out in his blog, this particular ranking has a lot to do with the number of stories it's placed with Best New American Voices. The reality is that one writer, Adam Johnson, appeared four times. (All of them can be found in Emporium, a swell collection). We also shouldn't discount that Robert Olen Butler exerts undue influence in these matters; like the Stegner, one of his recommendations to Tobias Wolfe or whoever will magically appear. So for me, this kind of throws Florida into doubt.

NYU? In this decade? It's in New York. That's about it.

Iowa's just a given, even when the current fiction folks are lackluster. Probably the only way to tell if it's the real deal is to actually go there...

I've only heard terrible things about Boston; terribly pricey, no funding, in-fighting, and...rumors of sexual harrassment? Hrm. But isn't Steve Almond there? That would be a plus.

Plus what's Irvine going to be like with no Geoffrey Wolfe?


I'm curious about a few of the aspersions you cast here. If you have some sort of viable info on sexual harassment at BU or Butler's meddlings in BNAV or Stegner selections, by all means, share.

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