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motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
e-mail user

Jun 13, 2008, 7:36 AM

Post #1 of 1018 (36524 views)
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     Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011)  

The application season for 2011 is approaching and choosing the right MFA program can be a difficult and sometimes agonizing decision. There are so many choices to be made when it comes to the type of program, cost, location, and duration. Which is best, a full-time program or a low residency? Is it affordable? How's the funding? Will you be freezing cold for most of the year or sweltering in the humidity? Can you spend three years or only two?

This topic is a good place to start answering these questions and others.


Click on this link to view the 2008 Choosing an MFA thread

For a complete listing of all the active topics in this forum, see DIRECTORY - Topics in the MFA Forum

Good luck to all 2011 applicants!




(This post was edited by motet on Apr 4, 2010, 3:56 PM)


moomoocow42


Jun 17, 2008, 3:02 AM

Post #2 of 1018 (36373 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I've done a fair amount of research, thanks in large part to Tom Kealey's wonderful guide, and was wondering if anyone could give any insight or suggestions to my current list. A couple things to know: my first priority is funding. While I plan to have a bit of money saved up from work by the time I go to school, I'd like to obviously spend as little of it as possible, keeping it for emergencies and such. My second priority is location, which ranks pretty close to my first priority. I currently live in Chicago, and would love to not have to move very far. It would have to take either a stellar program or a knockout funding package (or both) to get me to move to either coast. Lastly, and keeping with the location priority, I do somewhat need to stay at programs that are close to mid- or large-sized cities, as I am dragging my girlfriend along with me, and she needs to find gainful employment in her field in wherever we end up. Here is the list so far:

University of Illinois at Chicago
Columbia College (in Chicago)
Roosevelt University
Notre Dame
University of Michigan
Johns Hopkins
Temple University
University of Pittsburgh
George Mason University
Rutgers-Newark
Syracuse

I have what I hope is a wide combination of "safe" schools (safe as defined as schools that I feel I have a better than 1.5% chance of admission), large schools, and selective schools. Thoughts? Suggestions? Criticisms? I'm especially interested to hear if anyone has anything to say about the Rutgers-Newark program, especially as to how their funding is.

Oh, and thanks in advance for reading what is turning out to be a long and rambling email! The thought of applying to Grad school is already stressing me out and it's not even the Fall yet...


My MFA Blog -- Watch me slowly lose my sanity.


HopperFu


Jun 17, 2008, 8:10 AM

Post #3 of 1018 (36359 views)
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     Re: [moomoocow42] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

If you want to stay in the midwest, add Indiana. Bloomington is a reasonably sized city (I think), and they have good funding.


hamlet3145


Jun 17, 2008, 9:37 AM

Post #4 of 1018 (36349 views)
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     Re: [moomoocow42] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

If it were me, I'd throw Iowa into the mix as well. One good night out on the town in Chicago costs more than the app fee.

One completely under the radar midwestern program I'd like to mention is Iowa State's MFA. "What?" the crowd gasps. No, really. Prior to going to Montana I earned an M.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing at Iowa State. (If one were to dig back to the '97 rankings this program was actually 33rd). Since then they have remade the degree into an MFA in "Creative Writing and the Environment." It jumped from a 2 year to a 3 year, 54 credit program. When I was there everyone had a TA and a couple of us had Hogrefe fellowships which paid the same as a TA during the 1st year but you didn't have to teach. Cheryl St. Germain (who is now the director at Chattham) did much of the design work for the program when she was faculty. ISU has a nice campus and Ames was pleasant to live in. Obviously, those not interested in this type of environmental focus would be better off elsewhere.

http://engl.iastate.edu/...reative_writing/mfa/


gcsumfa


Jun 17, 2008, 10:29 AM

Post #5 of 1018 (36337 views)
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     Re: [moomoocow42] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I've done a fair amount of research, thanks in large part to Tom Kealey's wonderful guide, and was wondering if anyone could give any insight or suggestions to my current list. A couple things to know: my first priority is funding. While I plan to have a bit of money saved up from work by the time I go to school, I'd like to obviously spend as little of it as possible, keeping it for emergencies and such. My second priority is location, which ranks pretty close to my first priority. I currently live in Chicago, and would love to not have to move very far. It would have to take either a stellar program or a knockout funding package (or both) to get me to move to either coast. Lastly, and keeping with the location priority, I do somewhat need to stay at programs that are close to mid- or large-sized cities, as I am dragging my girlfriend along with me, and she needs to find gainful employment in her field in wherever we end up. Here is the list so far:

University of Illinois at Chicago
Columbia College (in Chicago)
Roosevelt University
Notre Dame
University of Michigan
Johns Hopkins
Temple University
University of Pittsburgh
George Mason University
Rutgers-Newark
Syracuse

I have what I hope is a wide combination of "safe" schools (safe as defined as schools that I feel I have a better than 1.5% chance of admission), large schools, and selective schools. Thoughts? Suggestions? Criticisms? I'm especially interested to hear if anyone has anything to say about the Rutgers-Newark program, especially as to how their funding is.

Oh, and thanks in advance for reading what is turning out to be a long and rambling email! The thought of applying to Grad school is already stressing me out and it's not even the Fall yet...


You might want to add Western Michigan to your list; Kalamazoo isn't that far from Chicago.


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Jun 17, 2008, 11:21 AM

Post #6 of 1018 (36326 views)
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     Re: [moomoocow42] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hey Moomoo,

If funding is your first priority, then you may want to scratch Columbia College off the list. While the program looks great, the possibility for funding only exists, really, after your first year. They don't offer assistantships until you have been in the program for one year and then decide to go into the teaching aspect of the degree (which is a dual degree).

Roosevelt seems to have fairly poor funding as well, if any, but it's been a few months since I have scoured their website for the little information I recall them providing in the way of funding.

I would add Southern Illinois to the list, although Carbondale isn't much of a big city. The price is right though; most if not all admitted students receive funding.

Other than that I think the list looks good, but like the MFA experts advise: apply to at least 15 places, because there is no such thing as an MFA safety school (especially when funding is involved).

Good luck!

Rick


mchard


Jun 17, 2008, 11:27 AM

Post #7 of 1018 (36324 views)
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     Re: [richardkae] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Purdue, Indiana, Ohio State and Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) all offer excellent funding. They are also close to Chicago.

Good luck,

M.


Also: At least in regards to funding, I know that George Mason struggles a bit to fund everyone. It's a little more competitive there.


(This post was edited by mchard on Jun 17, 2008, 11:33 AM)


rpc
ryan call

Jun 17, 2008, 12:58 PM

Post #8 of 1018 (36301 views)
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     Re: [mchard] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

yes, mason only has a certain number of TA slots that they can assign incoming mfa students. i dont know the exact numbers (varies each year, i think), but it is competitive, as mchard says. that said, its a great program - i entered without funding three years ago and worked into a ta slot my last two yrs.


<HTMLGIANT>


moomoocow42


Jun 17, 2008, 1:01 PM

Post #9 of 1018 (36299 views)
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     Re: [mchard] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Thank you so much everyone for the extremely valuable advice. I will definitely have to revise my list and revisit several of the schools mentioned -- it also looks like I will have some convincing of the girlfriend to do!

~Eric


My MFA Blog -- Watch me slowly lose my sanity.


scheherazade


Jun 17, 2008, 4:29 PM

Post #10 of 1018 (36262 views)
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     Best Funded Programs [In reply to]  

So for those of us without geographical limitations, which schools offer "full" or significant funding? i.e., Tuition waiver, TAship or fellowship to cover most/all tuition expenses and provide some money to live on, leaving expenses which can otherwise be covered by reasonable part-time employment. This funding doesn't need to be offered to every student, but the school must at least offer a possibility that a student might be able to attend this school without accruing any/much debt or finding a sugar-daddy.

I'm trying to put together a comprehensive list, so please add to or remove from the following:

University of Alabama
University of Arkansas
Bowling Green
Brown University
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine
Cornell University
Florida State University
University of Florida
George Mason University
University of Georgia
University of Houston
Indiana University
University of Iowa
Iowa State University
Johns Hopkins University
Louisiana State University
McNeese State University
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
Minnesota State University, Mankato
University of Mississippi
University of Montana
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
University of New Mexico
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Notre Dame University
Ohio State University
University of Oregon
Purdue University
Syracuse University
University of Texas, Michener Center
University of Texas (MA program)
Texas State University
University of Utah
Vanderbilt University
University of Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University
University of Washington
Washington University, St. Louis
West Virginia University
University of Wisconsin, Madisn


ejdifili
Emily

Jun 17, 2008, 6:24 PM

Post #11 of 1018 (36242 views)
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     Re: [scheherazade] Best Funded Programs [In reply to]  

While Notre Dame does offer tuition remission to all CW students, only one person in each genre receives a TAship. So, I guess it does qualify as offering a chance of the full funding that was being described, but it's a slim one.


vivalettelaviv


Jun 18, 2008, 3:01 AM

Post #12 of 1018 (36190 views)
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     Re: [ejdifili] Best Funded Programs [In reply to]  

Actually, Notre Dame offers fellowships to half their students. There is a Prose Fellow, a Poetry Fellow, a Nicholas Sparks Fellow, who works on their lit mag, multiple University Fellowships (two this year, though that number might fluctuate), and every other year, there is a fellowship for a student who essentially becomes a personal assistant to the Program Director. So, roughly 5 or 6 fellowships are distributed throughout an incoming class of 10 to 12.


Dime49


Jun 18, 2008, 3:08 PM

Post #13 of 1018 (36127 views)
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     Re: [scheherazade] Best Funded Programs [In reply to]  

Arizona State fully funds all its students as well.


SevenFreckles


Jun 19, 2008, 5:28 PM

Post #14 of 1018 (36010 views)
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     Research [In reply to]  

I'm still in the midst of researching my schools for my '09 applications and I was hoping for some insight on this issue. Right now I'm looking at about twenty or so programs that I'm going to narrow it down from. I did one round of applications the year before last, but have changed my genre from fiction to poetry. So I'm pretty familiar with most of the top programs, at least in some aspects. I'm going through websites, looking at faculty, and trying to find poets that I feel I mesh with on on some level. But with approximately twenty programs it's turning into a significant amount of reading, not to mention money spent on books. How familiar with faculty's work do you think you should be during the application process? I found Poets.org to be a good resource, but I'm not sure I can really get a feel for someone's style after only one or two poems. And truthfully, while I'm reading -a lot- of poetry right now, I haven't read a ton of it in the past... so I feel horribly uneducated and disadvantaged. And rather overwhelmed. Maybe I'm just not pacing myself? I don't know. I don't like to do things halfway, and don't want to look back and realize that I didn't put enough effort into my research (part of the problem with my last attempt)... but I think I need a better attack plan or something.

Sorry for this long, rambling post. Any thoughts on the subject are welcome! Thanks!


unsaid78


Jun 19, 2008, 8:17 PM

Post #15 of 1018 (35984 views)
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     Re: [SevenFreckles] Research [In reply to]  

I'm going to be applying for the first time for Fall '09 in Poetry(but I've been stalking these boards for 2 years). I'm trying to narrow down about 20 schools too!

As far as the faculty's work I actually worked backwards. I looked up poets whom I liked to see where they were teaching and added those schools to the list so that's something you might try. Who are you already familiar with? Where do they teach? I chose at least 4 of the schools on my list this way (NYU- Olds and Komunyakaa, SIUC- Allison Joseph, Virginia Tech- Nikki Giovanni, University of Houston- Mark Doty).

Just a thought. Good luck whittling things down!


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


ejdifili
Emily

Jun 19, 2008, 10:00 PM

Post #16 of 1018 (35968 views)
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     Re: [SevenFreckles] Research [In reply to]  

Reading your prospective professors' work is definitely a good idea. Or, just do a search and find out where some poets you already respect are teaching. I wouldn't think you'd have to read ALL the professors' work in ALL programs where you apply. I'm in fiction, so that was definitely impossible for me when I was doing my apps. You could, however, read about their work just to get an idea of what they're doing. Like, if you're into experimental writing, then you probably want to study somewhere that has a more "experimental" faculty. I applied to some programs because I enjoyed the work of the people who taught there, and to others for different reasons such as location, funding, etc.

Keep in mind, too, that sometimes professors go on sabbatical, change schools or whatever. So, just because they're listed as faculty doesn't guarantee that you'll get to work with them. Also, even though you might love someone's work, you may not necessarily mesh with them personally or benefit from their teaching style.

Another idea is to look up the alma maters of contemporary writers you enjoy. I applied to the program I'll be attending in the fall largely because of an alumnus whose work I admire.


SevenFreckles


Jun 20, 2008, 12:19 AM

Post #17 of 1018 (35946 views)
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     Re: [ejdifili] Research [In reply to]  

Thanks for the suggestions. That backwards method sounds useful. I suppose part of the problem is that I'm also trying to make up for the fact that I'm woefully unfamiliar with contemporary poetry. I mean, I do and always have read poetry, and there are a lot of poems that really resonate with me... but not a lot of poets whose work as a whole I identify with. And I'm trying to change that. I guess it's all part of working on becoming a better writer. But I feel pretty in the dark when people mention world famous, legendary so-and-so and I have to go google him or her because I have no idea who they are. If only I had been an English major in undergrad... sigh. :)

On another note, does anyone know of any other lists or rankings of strong poetry programs? I found the 2008 P&W Reader Poll, but wonder if there are any others that break it up into genre. Or even an article or something. I'm not too concerned about rankings (I look, of course, but it's not my top priority) but they're a good reference and starting point for getting ideas. It seems that according to that one poll a lot of the programs I was considering when applying for fiction didn't even make the list. Hmm. It makes sense to me that some programs would be known more for one genre or the other, but maybe not...

I guess while I'm at it with another long post I'll include my list that I'm trying to pare down.

Alabama
Western Washington
Bowling Green
Cornell
Greenboro
Georgia
Hollins
Houston
Iowa
Michener Center
Michigan
Montana
Notre Dame
Oregon
Syracuse
Virginia

Thanks again!


Vesuvia


Jun 20, 2008, 12:32 AM

Post #18 of 1018 (35945 views)
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     Re: [moomoocow42] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

You should look at the University of Minnesota -- I'm headed there in the fall, so I don't yet have the perspective of someone who's been through the program, but I can speak for its funding package -- ALL students receive tuition remission, a 3-year TAship & stipend (definitely livable), and comprehensive health insurance, and there is the possibility of additional fellowships as well. The faculty has been very helpful and friendly so far, and they've got some great writers there. As Tom Kealey notes, the program is young-ish (about 10 years old, I think), which is one reason why it's not as highly ranked as he thinks it should be, and I imagine that in a couple years it'll rise in the rankings as well. In terms of its selectivity, I believe this year approximate 5% of applicants were admitted.

I'm currently in Chicago as well, and from my few visits to the Twin Cities, I've gotten a great vibe from the friendly, laid back, creative people, and I've heard that the Twin Cities are great for the arts, especially literature, visual art, and music. Though not as large as Chicago, I think (I hope!) that Chicagoans would thrive in Minneapolis. I'm also bringing along my significant other, who will need to find some work, and I don't think he'll have any problems.

If you (or anyone else) wants any more info about UMN, especially over the next few months as I actually start the program and as application time nears, I'm happy to be a resource.


unsaid78


Jun 20, 2008, 4:20 AM

Post #19 of 1018 (35932 views)
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     Re: [SevenFreckles] Research [In reply to]  

Sorry, can't help you on a poetry ranking. Would be nice though. :) Oh and as far as getting to know poets without majoring in English, I suggest going to poetry readings. I've gotten more knowledge of poets through readings than I did as an undergrad English major. If you live near a campus with a creative writing program they probably have readings scheduled. Or check with bookstores. That way you get the chance to mingle with the poets and hear their work. Just an idea. Here's my long list that changes almost daily:

Definitely Applying Here:
Cornell
Florida State
Indiana
NYU
Michener
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Southern Illinois Carbondale
Virginia Tech
McNeese
USC (MPW)

More Than Likely Also Applying Here:

Vanderbilt
Boise State
University of Oregon
University of Virginia
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Houston
Arizona State, Tempe

Also Considering:
Iowa
Notre Dame
University of Florida
University of Washington
UC Irvine


For poetry.


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


Raignn



Jun 20, 2008, 11:49 AM

Post #20 of 1018 (35903 views)
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     Re: MidWest Schools [In reply to]  

I only applied to schools in the Midwest last year and would like to provide some insight to those considering any of the following schools. Most of my insight is poetry, but some fiction information can be gleaned from what I know. Don't discount the Midwest! There are some really excellent programs in this part of the country and although some might not be in the most glamourous of locations, definitely check them out.

1. University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana -- This is the school I ultimately chose out of the several I ended up getting into. This school has amazing funding (really, it's amazing), you get to teach, but not too much, the faculty to student ratio is incredible (four poetry faculty, only three incoming poets a year), plus instead of teaching you can work on The Ninth Letter (which is also awesome). Plus you're two hours from three very major cities (Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis). The program is quite new, which is why it doesn't end up on many people's list, but I highly recommend everyone check it out. This is a three year program.

2. Purdue University -- I went to Purdue as an undergrad. They also offer excellent, full funding to everyone, have a great set of faculty lined up, the Sycamore Review, and other perks. I also highly recommendthis program. This is a three year program.

3. Ohio State -- I almost went here. Full funding, incredibly nice people, great faculty. I highly recommend this program as well. This is a three year program.

4. Western Michigan -- Great program, super nice people, great town, great faculty. The problem is they don't offer full funding. It's almost full funding so it's totally doable, but for someone who wasn't willing to spend a dime on their MFA it was what broke the deal for me. They do accept some people without funding, but they generally are able to find funding for everyone. But, they do have the Prague program (sooo hard to turn down) and Third Coast. I do really recommend this program, they are very well thought of. This is a three year program.

5. Indiana University -- They have full funding, but this can be a tough one. It's a great program, but they are focused on diversity (for good or for bad), and frankly I found them to be less than helpful during the process (I was waitlisted).. take that as you will. They do have an excellent program with great writers. This is a three year program.

6. Pittsburgh -- Yes, Pittsburgh is a great program. However, be aware, they accept a lot of people and only 1 maybe 2 out of each genre are funded. I was something like 15th on the list for funding when I was accepted. Then they sort of tell you to go find your own funding. I found them to be less than helpful during the whole process and was very turned off by their whole "you should come to our program because we are Pittsburgh" attitude. That being said, my best friend got her MFA from Pitt, did receive full funding, and came out a great writer. If I could do it all over again I wouldn't have even bothered with Pitts, but that's just my experience. This is a three year program.

Hopefully this helps those out there!


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Jun 20, 2008, 11:50 AM

Post #21 of 1018 (35899 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] Research [In reply to]  

Hey guys,

I strongly encourage poets and fiction writers alike to give serious consideration to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. I was 10th on the waitlist out of 10, and after seven long months of waiting I have been admitted (for fiction) with a fully funded TA position. Needless to say, they are AWESOME for funding. They make great strides for their students and so far I have had nothing but great experiences with the staff and faculty there, sight unseen.

Pinckney Benedict is the MFA director, and a hell of a writer (fiction). You may have heard of him, he studied under Joyce Carol Oates at Princeton and is described as "raw and emotional, Benedict crafts his prose with a decidedly masculine voice. The characters are gritty, the action is razor-sharp and the defining landscape is unnervingly real. Benedict recognizes in his native West Virginia a terrain rich with storytelling material. As Joyce Carol Oates writes in her introduction to The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, 'indeed, in writers so clearly linked to an idiomatic oral tradition as Flannery O'Connor and the young West Virginian Pinckney Benedict, place is voice.'"

The poetry faculty is equally renowned. Consider the following awards recently bestowed upon Rodney Jones and Allison Joseph:

  • Professor Rodney Jones is the 2007 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Prize in Poetry.
    This annual award, given to a poet in mid-career, is a prize of $100,000.
  • Associate Allison Joseph was awarded the Writecorner Poetry Prize for her poem
    "A Love Note to Teenagers"--read the poem at www.writecorner.com

  • Associate Professor Allison Joseph is an award winner in the 2006 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg
    Poetry Competition. She will be awarded $5000 for her poems "Cartography" and "Emergency Librarian."
  • Associate Professor Allison Joseph was awarded a $7000 Artists Fellowship in Poetry for 2007 from the Illinois Arts Council.
The Kingsley Tufts Prize is pretty sweet, huh?

I'm done with my sales pitch, but I just want 2009 applicants to know how awesome this program has been, and will continue to be, for years to come. It is truly an up and coming program, placed by some in the top 50 for MFA programs. Take a look at the programs website by going here:

http://www.siu.edu/departments/english/Academic%20Areas/Creative%20Writing/CreativeWriting.html

Good luck, people, and like I said in the "I'M IN" thread: expect the unexpected, you can't script the MFA application process.

Sincerely,
Richard


writerteacher


Jun 20, 2008, 1:05 PM

Post #22 of 1018 (35874 views)
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     Re: [SevenFreckles] Research [In reply to]  

Consider Virginia Commonwealth University. Fully funded for 80% of students, 3-year program run by poet David Wojahn, a Pulitzer finalist last year. Claudia Emerson (who won the Pulitzer the year David was a finalist) is teaching next year; I can't remember the name of the poet they hired to start teaching in 2009, but she's a "big name" (sorry, I'm a fictioneer). Top-notch visiting writers and readers series, exceptional lit journal, plenty of teaching and editing opportunities, super town, etc.

I've written elsewhere in the MFA forum about the many attributes of the VCU MFA program, but if you have any particular questions, you can PM me. There's more info at the Web site:

http://www.has.vcu.edu/eng/graduate/mfa.htm

Best,
WT


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Jun 20, 2008, 2:53 PM

Post #23 of 1018 (35844 views)
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     Re: [richardkae] Research [In reply to]  

I've been out of the mix for while but Pinckney Benedict is awesome!
He does several seminars in the Low Res Program at Queens and I just love when I see his name on the roster :)

This is a great site, btw, for people just starting out the search. Helped me immensely and now I will graduate in January. Wooo hoo!!


http://jessiecarty.com


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Jun 20, 2008, 4:14 PM

Post #24 of 1018 (35830 views)
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     Re: [jacarty] Research [In reply to]  

Hey Jacarty,

I'm pumped to have my first MFA WS with him in the Fall. I feel blessed :-)


Good luck with your research.


Rick


Brokenmoped


Jun 21, 2008, 2:45 AM

Post #25 of 1018 (35787 views)
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     Literary Mags [In reply to]  

I'm considering applying for MFA programs for 2010, but I figured I'd try to get ahead of the game. Maybe someone can help me out... I'm looking for programs that offer editorial positions on lit mags rather than TA positions. This is mainly because I'm pretty sure I would make a horrible teacher. Are there mid-top tier MFA programs that offer this kind of job/funding?


ellen362


Jun 21, 2008, 10:34 PM

Post #26 of 1018 (17715 views)
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     Re: [Brokenmoped] Literary Mags [In reply to]  

Iowa offers one or two spots like this.

Ellen


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Jun 22, 2008, 2:10 AM

Post #27 of 1018 (17702 views)
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     Re: [ellen362] Literary Mags [In reply to]  

I'm fairly certain that's also possible at Bama.

Nick


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/


umass76


Jun 22, 2008, 2:29 PM

Post #28 of 1018 (17666 views)
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     Re: Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

Hi all,

Just wanted to put my two cents in on two issues being discussed in this thread: "fully"-funded programs and choosing a program based on the faculty. While both of these issues are addressed more fully in the research I did for the second edition of Tom Kealey's Creative Writing MFA Handbook (which, when it comes out later this year, will have a Top 50 ranking of programs based on their funding, taking into account more than a dozen cost-related factors for each program), a few things are worth noting now:

1. I'd caution against lumping schools broadly into the category of "well-funded," as, if one isn't careful, one can end up leaving no distinction between a program which costs nothing and pays you tens of thousands of dollars to attend (e.g., Texas), and one which is likely full-cost, without stipend for around 50% of its class, and fully-funded (teaching assistantship with tuition remission, plus stipend) for the other half. And, of course, somewhere in there is the dramatic difference between a low stipend ($8,000 or below) at a fully-funded program in a high-cost area, and a high stipend ($13,000+) at a fully-funded program in a low-cost area. Just between two such programs--both regarded as "fully-funded"--one can see an effective difference of around $7,000 per year, and that's not to mention differences between health-care plans and degree of tuition remission (50% and 100% ain't the same thing, by any means), among other things. There are only twenty programs in the U.S. considered truly "fully-funded"--i.e., all students get full tuition remission and a liveable stipend (either with or without a teaching requirement). Of the list already provided in this thread, I'd say, IMHO, that several programs should be removed as being in a totally different [and "worse," for lack of a better term] class than the others, funding-wise (and only funding-wise; I'm not referring to anything else):

Bowling Green State University
University of California at Davis
George Mason University
University of Georgia
Iowa State University (not University of Iowa)
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
University of New Mexico
Texas State University
University of Utah
University of Washington

These schools are somewhere closer to "50% fully-funded" programs--and the difference matters. Others on the list, like Florida State University, McNeese State, University of Iowa, and University of Houston, are what I call "75% fully-funded programs" (again, an important distinction, which can translate into differences of thousands and thousands of dollars). I do--I really do--understand the impetus to create a single list which contains every school that offers any kind of legitimate funding package, but one has to realize that, for 50% of the admitees to a 50% fully-funded program, that program will end up being as horrid funding-wise as the big bad pack of almost-entirely unfunded programs: Columbia, NYU, The New School, Sarah Lawrence, Pittsburgh, SAIC, SFSU, USF, and several others less well-known (largely in California, Chicago, and New York City, but there are some elsewhere).

2. My personal opinion--which no one asked for, I know :-)--is that you ought not pick a program largely (and perhaps not even at all) for its faculty, based on one single premise: there is absolutely no correlation whatsoever between the quality of an artist's work, or your own feelings of fellowship with an artist's aesthetic project, and whether you will have any interest whatsoever in that artist as a teacher, or as a person, once you get to your program. And then there's a separate corollary to that one: it is equally likely that the best teacher for you is someone you've never heard of, and/or whose work you don't like, and/or whose aesthetics you aren't interested in, than that the best teacher will reside in the opposite of any one or all of those three categories. Not merely because artistic talent and teaching talent are wholly different skill-sets, but because often the best teacher for you is the one who will challenge what you believe to be true, not merely reinforce what you're already doing because it looks like and reads like something similar to what they're presently doing (i.e., three years of "Atta' boy!" is not helpful to anyone). So, when I see folks choosing schools based on faculty, I tend to think they're choosing a "wash" category--a category in which no predictions can realistically be made (not with any sort of precision whatsoever, at least)--instead of a definitive one, like funding, or class-size, or location.

Just my two cents.

Be well, all,
Seth

P.S. Much more information is available (as many of you already know) on my website, which exists only to help folks out as they go through this process:

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

(see the right-hand frame, at this site, for links)


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jun 22, 2008, 2:33 PM)


writerteacher


Jun 22, 2008, 2:32 PM

Post #29 of 1018 (17663 views)
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     Re: [Brokenmoped] Literary Mags [In reply to]  

VCU offers editing opportunities; fulltime (20 hours/week) positions are possible in years 2 and 3, with the first year being an internship (for credit). You can get up to six hours as an intern.

TAing -- literally, assisting a professor with a class -- is very different from teaching one's own class. That is to say, don't be turned off by programs that offer editing stipends that require additional hours assisting in a classroom or writing center.

Good luck,
WT


Brokenmoped


Jun 22, 2008, 6:42 PM

Post #30 of 1018 (17654 views)
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     Re: [writerteacher] Literary Mags [In reply to]  

writerteacher,

Thanks for the clarification. I was under the impression that TAing specifically meant teaching classes whenever the professor needed help. Do most programs offer a combination TA/editor position, or is it pretty rare?


writerteacher


Jun 22, 2008, 9:15 PM

Post #31 of 1018 (17632 views)
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     Re: [Brokenmoped] Literary Mags [In reply to]  

Hey, Brokenmoped --

(Great handle; sorry about your ride.)

I don't know much about how other programs divvy TA assignments when editorial positions are part of the mix.

I *do* know that the term TA or GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant or Assistantship) comprises different duties in different programs.

At VCU, second- and third-year GTAs have the chance to teach their own classes. (This includes MAs, MFAs, and PhDs.) Most if not all students are offered the opportunity to teach an undergrad beginning creative writing class, and/or an undergrad general education (required) class in preparing and writing a substantial research paper.

These assignments are separate from assisting a professor in a large lecture course (you wind up helping with grading, discussion board posts, etc.) or assisting an instructor in a smaller (25 or fewer students) undergraduate advanced creative writing or special topics course.

There's also the Writing Center, where TAs consult, one-on-one, with students who make appointments, much like tutoring (but nowhere near as intense).

So, those are the possible teaching components, each of which accounts for 10 hours of a 20 hour TA commitment (for full tuition waiver plus nice stipend).

Lots of people do 10 hours in the Writing Center and teach a course, or assist with a course. There are other possibilities.

Editing: The Associate Editor position of the lit journal Blackbird goes to a second year MFA student; typically it alternates between prose and poetry writers. I believe this is a fulltime (20 hours per week) gig. If it's not, it oughtta be.

Literary award coordinating: The First Novelist Award/Festival is an annual event whereby agents and publishers submit books by first-time novelists published in the previous year in the United States. Between 75-110 submissions per year; the winning author, his/her agent and publisher come to Richmond for a whole three-day hoo-hah. The coordinator position, 20 hours per week, goes to a second-year student and is fulltime (no teaching, no Writing Center duties). I'm the award coordinator for 2008-2009. I'll teach creative writing in my third year.

There are other TA assignments -- special projects for professors, negotiated on a case-by-case basis. There are other editing opportunities (a Victorian Letters journal, an undergrad literary magazine) as well as internships that count for TA hours.

So, at least at VCU, the term TA doesn't necessarily mean teaching or assisting in a classroom. I am sure other programs have similar flexibility.

One last point: a teaching assistantship is different from a fellowship, which usually is based on merit within the student pool. Sometimes fellowships require fewer hours; sometimes no work is required in return. I mention the distinction because I didn't know this when I was first looking into programs, and used the terms interchangeably until someone explained it to me. It's important to understand what you're applying for -- lots of programs have earlier deadlines or separate application procedures for fellowships or TA support.

Sorry so long -- I hope all this helps.

Best,
WT


unsaid78


Jun 23, 2008, 10:34 AM

Post #32 of 1018 (17567 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

Thanks Seth! I like what you said about the funding. You are right. Looks like I'll be revising my list once again :)

Also, I was having similar thoughts about choosing schools based on faculty. My undergrad experience showed me how great poetry professors that were unknown to me can be so that's not my biggest concern. I just wouldn't want to miss out on a possible opportunity to study with a few that I know and respect. I also chose some schools based on funding and some based on the ability for multi-genre study.

If anyone has any insight on programs that allow dual MA/MFA concentrations I'd like to know. That's how McNeese made my list. Are there any other schools like this that anyone is aware of?


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


Raignn



Jun 23, 2008, 11:02 AM

Post #33 of 1018 (17561 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

When I said full funding in my post that means full tuition remission + stipend.


stephkarto1
Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Jun 23, 2008, 1:27 PM

Post #34 of 1018 (17532 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

Though this may be a bit long, I really want to back up Seth's second point re: choosing a school over funding vs. faculty. There are so many things that you might not know this early in the game. If you are applying to schools next year, you don't know who might leave the schools that interest you as you either start or are mid-way through whatever program you ultimately choose; some faculty members that are "big attractors" to a program might be on sabbatical, on emiretus status (ie are getting ready to retire), or might be in the middle of negotiations for a teaching post at another university.

It's a good idea to "generally like" the faculty of any particular program before you apply, I think, and to not have your heart "set on" working with one particular person--there are so many things that would not be available for you to know, no matter how thorough your research. I do recommend, however, to pick up on what Seth wrote, that you maybe recalibrate what it means to "like" a faculty--ie try to figure out who the writer is as a professor rather than as a person who writes and enjoys a wonderfully published career. One of my best teachers does not write anything like me (but does write poems I greatly admire); he did, however, take the time to figure out what my influences are, what matters to me in writing, and what my perspective is and used that to guide me to write "more like me" and towards what I want. Another one of my best teachers is known for being stodgy and writes poems that, while mechanically strong and tight, aren't among the more interesting to me and would never be among the work that I hold up and say "now THAT is what I want to become more like. That's the direction I want my work to head in." But this poet really took the time to meet me at where I was in my writing and to encourage me to be more disciplined, more scrupulous, and more careful in my writing process and in editing my own work. He also encouraged me to be a more critical reader of writing. And, since graduating the MFA program in which I studied with him, he has been absolutely supportive of everything I have tried to accomplish. He has unflinchingly written recommendation letters for me, offered his advice in arenas I didn't have much knowledge or experience with, and has generally been helpful and open-minded. Even when my interests have lead me down paths or towards (teachers, schools, academic programs, opportunities...) that might not interest him or fit with his logic.

Getting full funding (tuition paid, stipend that was enough to live on)--and having that funding GUARANTEED THROUGHOUT MY PROGRAM--is something that is a lot more black-and-white to consider than faculty at a program. Being funded, and gaining experience teaching composition, business/technical writing, and creative writing is one of the most dependable things that my program could have given me; it is, at the very least, one of the most equal factors that *everyone* who attended my program was able to get.

I'm beyond pleased with my journey so far. I got my MFA at the University of Florida (graduated 5 years ago). I spent a week at an excellent writing conference in the Napa Valley. In Boston, I've found some pretty cool teaching opportunities that are direct extensions of my teaching experience at UF and also happened to find myself immersed in a couple of writing communities that recognize my seriousness with my writing as something that's important enough to me to really prioritize. And now I am off to University of Missouri-Columbia for my PhD in creative writing (With the department's creative writing/poetry fellowship! And full funding guaranteed for the next 5 years! And a creative writing faculty that has sort of gathered around me to offer as much support and enthusiasm and encouragement as I get myself ready to move to MO for school!). And I have two of my professors from UF to thank for not only writing me recommendation letters that I think are stellar but for offering me infinite amounts of support when I researched programs and figured out the best way to piece together my applications. My professors are "names" in some ways and not so much "names" in other ways (ie they are not--well--Jorie Graham, Robert Pinsky, Billy Collins...). My professors were and are, however, very serious, dedicated, and concerned that their students--present, past, and yet-to-be--work hard and get serious about their writing, their careers, and how to use the funding they are given in the program to their best advantage.

There's a lot waiting for me in Missouri. I'm lucky. I also know that I researched the hell out of every single thing that I have done. I wish all of you luck as you research programs and figure out what really matters to you and what features a program can have that will help sustain you over the course of your MFA program journey.


SevenFreckles


Jun 23, 2008, 4:24 PM

Post #35 of 1018 (17506 views)
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     Re: [stephkarto1] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

The discussion on funding and faculty has been very interesting. When I originally brought up my question I didn't mean to imply that I was making my program choices based on who was teaching there. My number one priority is definitely funding. But I wonder what you can learn about a program as a whole based on who their faculty is? If anything. Certainly you can't judge who will be a great mentor by reading a few poems or looking at a list of awards and publications. But can you get a better picture of what individualizes one program from the other?

My list includes some schools that I picked because I thought they were interesting, some because they have outstanding funding, and a few long shots that I have to at least try for. But after looking at so many web pages with all the typical information on them, I'm sometimes left with the feeling that they're all the same. It's really hard to tell what the program is actually like. I need some personality. Probably a terrible analogy, but I feel like I'm standing blindfolded in a shoe store. I know I'm in the section of size sevens, but how am I supposed to pick out a pair that I like? Yup, terrible analogy. Maybe someone knows what I mean, though.

I have read through loads of posts here about particular programs and they have been extremely helpful. Hm. I'm quite jealous of the applicants next year who will benefit from a second edition of the MFA Handbook. My copy of the first edition hasn't left my side in months. Anyway, I guess I'll just keep on researching. Thanks for all the insight!


symmetrical


Jun 23, 2008, 11:00 PM

Post #36 of 1018 (17462 views)
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     Re: [SevenFreckles] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

Yes, does this second edition I keep hearing/reading about have a release date yet, and if so, is it too late to be any help to those of us applying for fall '09? I got the 1st edition for xmas and have been doing internet research since. My current list is:

Iowa
Michigan
Texas-Michener
Viriginia
Washington University (St. Louis)
Montana
Alabama
VCU
North Carolina-Wilmington
North Carolina-Greensboro
Illinois
Southern Illinois
Arizona
Arizona State

2-3 of these may get cut eventually, especially those last two. I'm trying to be open-minded about location if the funding's there, but Arizona might just be too hot and desert-y for me in the end.


umass76


Jun 23, 2008, 11:39 PM

Post #37 of 1018 (17450 views)
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     Re: [symmetrical] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

Hi Symmetrical,

Not 100% sure of the release date for the Handbook (second edition), but my understanding is that it'll be out sometime in the fall--the goal, I think, is to have it be helpful for those applying during this upcoming application cycle.

I agree with the other poster who said that, after a while, all of the programs begin to look alike: it's one reason I started trying to locate some "hard data" on programs, and posted the resulting numbers/percentages on my blog. My own advice would be to differentiate programs using the following factors (in order of importance):

1. Location
2. Funding
3. Reputation of Overall University*
4. Size of Program
5. Selectivity**
6. Popularity

* IMHO, this matters a great deal, because universities and colleges with a strong national reputation (as evidenced, to use just one possible resource, by their relative positioning in the U.S. News & World Report undergraduate rankings) are a) more likely to have financial resources (thus speaking well of the size, flexibility, and room-for-expansion of their financial aid offers going forward), and b) more likely to attract top faculty (important, paradoxically, not so much because it adds to the luster of the faculty roster [see my comments on faculty, above] but because top talent in teaching positions adds to a program's reputation, which adds to its selectivity, which increases the quality of the student cohort you'll be doing all your workshopping and much of your learning with), and c) more likely to have a "universal" cache, i.e. a sort of "portability," on the job market--so that, even if you aren't going into the creative writing wing of academia after graduation (and most won't, and don't want to), employers outside the field will say, for instance, "Hey, she's got a Master's Degree from University of Michigan, that's impressive...!"

** Based on yield-exclusive acceptance rates. The only reason I rank "Size" higher than "Selectivity"--and say, generally, that "size matters"--is because certain writers of are the sort of personality that'd get lost completely in a large program, while others would feel terminally claustrophobic in a small one. And because "Atmosphere" is the Great Unmentionable Factor--the one that would rank first (ahead even of Location) if we could ever quantify it--the way your individual personality jives with a program's size, temperament, and overall intellectual/social atmosphere is a vital ingredient in you being happy at your MFA.

That last one ("Popularity") is probably the most controversial; the idea, I guess I'd say, is that those programs which are clearly becoming more popular (based on the recent polling) are likely to become more selective, numbers-wise, in the years ahead, thus burnishing their overall reputation. Likewise, if a school's remarkably popular, it probably suggests that recent grads are saying good things about it to their now-applying friends, which suggests high student satisfaction (one of the few "residual indicators" of that Great Unmentionable, "Atmosphere").

If you use those six factors (I may be forgetting one or two other good ones, but it's too late for me to think entirely clearly), you'll quickly see that it is possible to distinguish between programs. The key is to not get hung up in factors which, when analyzed critically, are really the province of guesswork more than anything else.

Best wishes,
Seth

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


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jun 23, 2008, 11:43 PM)


umass76


Jun 23, 2008, 11:40 PM

Post #38 of 1018 (17449 views)
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     Re: [symmetrical] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

P.S. Symmetrical, just wanted to mention that, even without knowing your genre, that list looks like an excellent start. Good work.


symmetrical


Jun 24, 2008, 1:02 AM

Post #39 of 1018 (17436 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

sorry - - poetry. And thanks a ton for your input. I definitely appreciate all the work and time you put into your mfa program analysis project(s).


Dime49


Jun 24, 2008, 5:22 PM

Post #40 of 1018 (17361 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

Another factor that's important to take into consideration is what type of MFA program you are looking for. While all the degrees have the same initials, the program of study and focus vary quite a bit from school to school. Some are 2 year programs, some 3 or even 4 (and this can make a big difference). Some are very closely tied to the studio-arts degree roots of the MFA with less classes and more "writing" time, others are more academically rigorous (like a PhD light).

It's important to ask yourself what your purpose in getting an MFA is? Because there may be programs with a great reputation and amazing funding and a great location that aren't inline with what your goals for an MFA are.

You can pretty much figure out the "focus" of a program just by looking at the graduation requirements (how many years, how many units, what type of units etc.).


umass76


Jun 24, 2008, 7:28 PM

Post #41 of 1018 (17336 views)
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     Re: [Dime49] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

Dime,

Great point! I knew I was missing one of the major factors.

Duration of the program is key (and, fortunately, quantifiable); as you say, there's a world of difference--more than one would ever think--between a two-year and a three-year program (NB: I don't think there's more than one or two four-year programs, and only one one-year program [Boston University] that I know of off-hand). For some, that additional year is ultimately the most productive of the three (I've heard more than one person say that they were "nowhere" after two years, and then the "light went on" during the third year).

Also, "Duration" is another way to assess "Funding"--a three-year program that's fully funded is offering you (on average, all things being equal) 50% more money than a comparably-funded two-year program.

So, at a minimum, there are seven factors which can be used to easily distinguish one program from another--and, most importantly, each one represents a substantive (and quantifiable) difference.

Be well,
Seth

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


aathema


Jun 25, 2008, 1:32 AM

Post #42 of 1018 (17287 views)
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     Re: [Brokenmoped] Literary Mags [In reply to]  

I don't know about MFA programs, but Western Washington U's MA program has a focus in creative writing and students in their second year are given the opportunity to apply for the managing editor position, which includes a TA stipend and tuition waiver. It also funds the full 6 quarters of the program (TA positions there only fund 5 quarters). Unfortunately, the only funding opportunity for the first year of the program is teaching.










http://www.postmfa08.blogspot.com


cantonioni


Jun 30, 2008, 11:56 AM

Post #43 of 1018 (17112 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  

Hi Seth-
Real quick: I think that what you do, in helping writers interested in MFA programs whittle down the list and better understand what they're getting themselves into, is fantastic.

Another topic related to choosing schools: I think it is worth investigating whether or not a program provides connection opportunities of some sort between writers and agents. Some MFA programs are much more active with regard to seeing their students published than other programs are - and that is HUGE - it's the difference between leaving a program a better writer and leaving a program a better writer with a decent chance of seeing his or her work in print.


ejdifili
Emily

Jun 30, 2008, 3:19 PM

Post #44 of 1018 (17073 views)
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     Re: [cantonioni] Funding & Professors [In reply to]  


In Reply To

Another topic related to choosing schools: I think it is worth investigating whether or not a program provides connection opportunities of some sort between writers and agents.


In addition, it's also important to ask what kind of guidance is offered to students about post-MFA life. Everyone knows an MFA is not exactly a "professional" degree that will enable you to fall right into a six-figure job. But once the student loans or fellowships run out, you'll have to find some way of paying the bills.

The program where I'm going next year offers practicums on both the publishing industry and the teaching aspect of writing. This was important to me because I've heard there are many other places where you're basically on your own beyond workshop and thesis advising.


possumholler


Jul 4, 2008, 11:58 AM

Post #45 of 1018 (16912 views)
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     best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

I have found little info about MFA programs with the best teaching of writing programs. I'm trying to develop a top ten list of best pedagogy programs to help me narrow my list for fall 2009 applications. I'd appreciate any help and advice.

I hope the new Creative Writing MFA Handbook will have some additional info about teaching of writing programs and was glad to hear the new edition might be published by fall.

This is my first post. The site has been an amazing refuge and oasis since I first logged on in May. Thanks P&W for hosting this incredibly helpful community forum.

Mike


jaywalke


Jul 4, 2008, 3:46 PM

Post #46 of 1018 (16888 views)
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     Re: [possumholler] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I have found little info about MFA programs with the best teaching of writing programs. I'm trying to develop a top ten list of best pedagogy programs.


Interesting question. It points out a difficult problem of the current system: the MFA's intent, for the most part, is to produce working writers, but not necessarily teachers of writing. Most programs have one class and then practicum (as TAs, then perhaps solo), but the workshop is emphasized more by a very large factor.

I'm in my second semester at Queens, and the director, Fred Leebron, said something very interesting about this. He went to Johns Hopkins, Iowa and was a Stegner Fellow, but he said he came out lacking four crucial survival skills. He didn't know how to: read like a writer, write a book review, shape a novel or how to teach creative writing. Obviously, he's trying to remedy that now that he gets to choose a curriculum, but low-res doesn't offer the chance for much teaching practicum.

I wonder how long it will be before there are dedicated practicum programs. In theatre, there are over 100 schools at which to get an MFA in acting. There is exactly one (Pitt) that offers an MFA in performance pedagogy. They accept 2 STUDENTS EVERY OTHER YEAR!


jaywalke


Jul 4, 2008, 3:48 PM

Post #47 of 1018 (16887 views)
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     Re: [jaywalke] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  


In Reply To

In Reply To
I have found little info about MFA programs with the best teaching of writing programs. I'm trying to develop a top ten list of best pedagogy programs.


Interesting question. It points out a difficult problem of the current system: the MFA's intent, for the most part, is to produce working writers, but not necessarily teachers of writing. Most programs have one class and then practicum (as TAs, then perhaps solo), but the workshop is given many times more emphasis.

I'm in my second semester at Queens, and the director, Fred Leebron, said something very interesting about this. He went to Johns Hopkins, Iowa and was a Stegner Fellow, but he said he came out lacking four crucial survival skills. He didn't know how to: read like a writer, write a book review, shape a novel or creative writing. Obviously, he's trying to remedy that now that he gets to choose a curriculum, but low-res doesn't offer the chance for much teaching practicum.

I wonder how long it will be before there are dedicated pedagogy programs. In theatre, there are over 100 schools at which to get an MFA in acting. There is exactly one (Pitt) that offers an MFA in performance pedagogy. They accept 2 STUDENTS EVERY OTHER YEAR!



jaywalke


Jul 4, 2008, 3:49 PM

Post #48 of 1018 (16886 views)
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     Re: [jaywalke] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  


In Reply To

In Reply To

In Reply To
I have found little info about MFA programs with the best teaching of writing programs. I'm trying to develop a top ten list of best pedagogy programs.


Interesting question. It points out a difficult problem of the current system: the MFA's intent, for the most part, is to produce working writers, but not necessarily teachers of writing. Most programs have one class and then practicum (as TAs, then perhaps solo), but the workshop is given ten times the emphasis.

I'm in my second semester at Queens, and the director, Fred Leebron, said something very interesting about this. He went to Johns Hopkins, Iowa and was a Stegner Fellow, but he said he came out lacking four crucial survival skills. He didn't know how to: read like a writer, write a book review, shape a novel or teach creative writing. Obviously, he's trying to remedy that now that he gets to choose a curriculum, but low-res doesn't offer the chance for much teaching practicum.

I wonder how long it will be before there are dedicated pedagogy programs. In theatre, there are over 100 schools at which to get an MFA in acting. There is exactly one (Pitt) that offers an MFA in performance pedagogy. They accept 2 STUDENTS EVERY OTHER YEAR!




(This post was edited by jaywalke on Jul 4, 2008, 3:50 PM)


stephkarto1
Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Jul 4, 2008, 10:10 PM

Post #49 of 1018 (16845 views)
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     Re: [possumholler] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

I don't know how much of a help this will seem, but I recommend, if you're interested in pedagogy, at considering programs that fund all of their students and give them teaching duties. These schools tend to require their students to take pedagogy classes (the title is some variation upon "theories and practices of writing") and also tend to have very solid comp/rhet master's and doctoral tracks in their English departments.

While this is not the same as a dedicated "teaching of writing" track, having a variety of comp/rhet classes that can help satisfy your literature credit requirements, AND having a pedagogy class that you must take, paired with teaching is essentially the same opportunity for "survival skills" that a master's student on a literature track would have.

And, coincidentally, University of Florida has an *excellent* comp/rhet program and requires all of its students to take a pedagogy class. Apparently, UC Irvine also requires its students to take pedagogy classes; an admitted student to the PhD program that I am attending starting this fall also put in paperwork, as I have, for exemption from the pedagogy class that is required of all master's and doctoral students in our university's English department.


ejdifili
Emily

Jul 5, 2008, 12:12 PM

Post #50 of 1018 (16810 views)
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     Re: [stephkarto1] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I don't know how much of a help this will seem, but I recommend, if you're interested in pedagogy, at considering programs that fund all of their students and give them teaching duties. These schools tend to require their students to take pedagogy classes (the title is some variation upon "theories and practices of writing") and also tend to have very solid comp/rhet master's and doctoral tracks in their English departments.

I would agree with this idea. Of course, even if you dont' have a TAship, you might still get the opportunity to take a pedagogy seminar. Still, if teaching writing at the college level is what you ultimately want to do, it's extremely helpful to have some experience under your belt when you finish your degree. If you apply to schools that don't offer teaching opportunities to all students, you could still be lucky enough to snag a TAship. Then again, don't count on it. Nonetheless, you can always get your teaching experience by working as an adjunct after you finish your MFA, it's just more of a pain.


owenj


Jul 5, 2008, 4:41 PM

Post #51 of 1018 (17996 views)
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     Re: [possumholler] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

If you're really interested in teaching, too, it might be worth considering (or at least being open to) getting a PhD after your MFA or MA - it might make sense, if this is the route you're considering, to go to a shorter master's program with the idea that you might end up in a PhD program. While it's not impossible to find a teaching job with an MFA, it's a lot easier to find one with a PhD (still tough, unfortunately), and you'll get a lot more pedagogical training (in my experience) than you will with in master's program. Also, when looking at MFA programs that have a TA component, see how much of that teaching is comp vs creative writing - not that you can't learn a LOT from teaching freshman comp, it'd be a shame not to get a few sections of your own creative writing class.


jaywalke


Jul 5, 2008, 10:39 PM

Post #52 of 1018 (17967 views)
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     Re: [jaywalke] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  


In Reply To

In Reply To

In Reply To



Wow, a triple post. I swear I hit edit rather than quote. Ah well. Yes, anal-retentive *does* have a hyphen.


dorchester


Jul 6, 2008, 5:52 AM

Post #53 of 1018 (17948 views)
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     Re: [possumholler] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I have found little info about MFA programs with the best teaching of writing programs. I'm trying to develop a top ten list of best pedagogy programs to help me narrow my list for fall 2009 applications. I'd appreciate any help and advice.

Mike,

If your goal is to eventually teach creative writing on the college level, you should really be looking at two things:

1) The national reputation of the school.
People don't like to admit this, but universities and English departments care about this. A LOT. There's a reason that Iowa places more graduates in college level teaching jobs than any other program. Universities are businesses, after all, and they like to be able to say we have a professor of creative writing who went to the most prestigious school in the country, just like they like to say we have a Rennaisance professor from Yale or a Victorian scholar from Berkeley. If I hadn't been on a lot of search committees myself, I wouldn't say this, but I've seen it happen again and again.

2) Whether the program gives you an opportunity to teach either literature or creative writing.
Most programs will give students the opportunity to teach composition or rhetoric, but if you have some experience teaching either literature or creative writing, you'll stand out a bit among the other applicants.

As for programs that offer courses in pedagogy, or the teaching of writing, I hate to say it, but that's not going to matter nearly as much as where you went to school, what you've actually taught, and, of course, what you've published. Your publication record is ultimately the most important thing, followed by where you went to school. You could take all the pedagogy courses in the world, and it wouldn't matter if another applicant has a book under his or her belt or if another applicant went to, say, Iowa. I'm not trying to suggest that courses in the teaching of creative writing aren't important. I personally think they're great. I'm just trying to give you a realistic idea of what university search committees look for and what will ultimately give you the best shot at getting a job.

I hope this helps.


(This post was edited by dorchester on Jul 6, 2008, 5:54 AM)


rpc
ryan call

Jul 7, 2008, 2:26 AM

Post #54 of 1018 (17885 views)
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     Re: [dorchester] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

also,

none of that matters if you dont have a book or two


<HTMLGIANT>


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Jul 7, 2008, 11:10 AM

Post #55 of 1018 (17854 views)
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     Re: [rpc] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

yep, have to agree with you on that.
if you don't have a book out you can get some work with just the degree (of course any teaching experience can help)
but darnit they just want those publications!


http://jessiecarty.com


dorchester


Jul 7, 2008, 7:37 PM

Post #56 of 1018 (17793 views)
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     Re: [jacarty] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

That's true. These days it's so competitive, it's hard to get a tenure-track job anywhere without a book. The only people I know who've managed to do this have all been Iowa grads with pretty impressive records of publication. I guess the assumption is that if you went to Iowa and youíve been publishing in good places, then youíll probably have a book soon. And all of the people Iím thinking of actually did publish books within a few years of getting the job. So, itís not impossible, but it helps to have some top-tier publications and a degree from a well-known program.


possumholler


Jul 9, 2008, 1:36 PM

Post #57 of 1018 (17686 views)
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     Re: [jaywalke] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

Thanks very much for this and the other replies, including those about the realities of the marketplace.

My hope is to attend a program with a top reputation that has ALSO made a commitment to the teaching of writing-- on a TA fellowship.

Although it's not on my list, Indiana has one of the most impressive teaching of writing programs I've come across (http://iub.edu/~mfawrite/?page_id=22); and Antioch Los Angeles low res program also has a very interesting post-MFA certificate program in creative writing pedagogy.

Thanks again for all the feedback.

Mike


umass76


Jul 9, 2008, 5:23 PM

Post #58 of 1018 (17651 views)
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     Re: [possumholler] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

Attention all: the application season isn't done yet!

Applications are still being accepted for a brand-new MFA program at one of the top twenty universities in America (now officially the fourth highest-ranked university in America with an MFA program). The deadline for Northwestern's new MFA degree (in the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction genres) is July 25th--still more than two weeks away!

Read the press release here: http://www.sethabramson.blogspot.com/

I just got the news from Northwestern, so this is literally hot off the presses. If you've still got transcripts and personal statements and portfolios to hand, and if you're still hunting for a September 2008 MFA option, act now. As in, right now.

Much more info at the link.

Best of luck,
Seth


yeahyeahyeah


Jul 9, 2008, 7:32 PM

Post #59 of 1018 (17626 views)
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     Re: [umass76] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

I'm surprised it took them this long to make the announcement. The information has been on their website since like March or April.

Here is what you need to know about the program:

The program is offered through the School of Continuing Studies. This is basically Northwestern's night school and their programs cater to working adults. This means mostly night classes with mostly older students.

Northwestern is on the quarter system.

I'm not sure how partial the funding is, but tuition will be $2,453 per course.

If you can get a job with NU, you can get 85% off of tuition (though it could be 75% for grad school).

Of course this is up to the people in the program, but from my (undergrad) experience, there doesn't seem to be much of a writing community. This was because people were commuting in from all over and we were all busy and/or tired because of our day jobs.

The faculty is great, but this isn't the typical MFA program. Keep that in mind.


daleth


Jul 10, 2008, 2:59 PM

Post #60 of 1018 (17554 views)
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     Re: [moomoocow42] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Michigan was fabulous for me, and they had great funding. I got my MFA for free, and they also handed out small summer travel grants to everyone, though I think that was because they'd gotten an unexpected donation that allowed them to do that (i.e. it's not a regular thing). Everyone there had at least 1/2 funding, I believe it was, and easily half of us had full funding. Everybody had TA-ships of some kind or another (e.g. assisting a professor teaching a Lit class, or teaching your own section of comp or creative writing...). And the grad students' union (as in labor union) was excellent, so a TA-ship was really a great deal in terms of how much time was required for the money.

Also, Michigan has the Hopwood awards--fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenplay, essay, yada--which are some serious awards, financially speaking, and a lot of them are won by MFA students, for the obvious reason that the MFA students are all fantastic writers. (The awards are open only to students, but they're open to any student in any discipline, grad or undergrad.)

As for your girlfriend's job--what field is she in?



In Reply To
my first priority is funding. While I plan to have a bit of money saved up from work by the time I go to school, I'd like to obviously spend as little of it as possible, keeping it for emergencies and such. My second priority is location, which ranks pretty close to my first priority. I currently live in Chicago, and would love to not have to move very far. It would have to take either a stellar program or a knockout funding package (or both) to get me to move to either coast. Lastly, and keeping with the location priority, I do somewhat need to stay at programs that are close to mid- or large-sized cities, as I am dragging my girlfriend along with me, and she needs to find gainful employment in her field in wherever we end up. Here is the list so far:

University of Illinois at Chicago
Columbia College (in Chicago)
Roosevelt University
Notre Dame
University of Michigan
Johns Hopkins
Temple University
University of Pittsburgh
George Mason University
Rutgers-Newark
Syracuse



Daleth Demented (Blog)

(This post was edited by daleth on Jul 10, 2008, 3:04 PM)


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Jul 12, 2008, 4:48 PM

Post #61 of 1018 (17467 views)
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     Re: [daleth] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Does anyone have any particular insight into Colorado State's program?

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/


whyGA77


Jul 13, 2008, 8:47 PM

Post #62 of 1018 (17390 views)
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     Re: [NickMcRae] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Well, The New School is the last school I'm waiting to hear from on my status on the wait list, and I think it's incredibly rude to make applicants wait this long. I can't exactly up and move to NYC with such short notice even if I did get in, but still. Anyway, I've decided to apply again and try my hand at getting in some different schools. Here's my list so far:

Seattle Pacific U
Eastern Washington
U of Minnesota
U of CO Boulder
George Mason U
The New School
VCU
Brooklyn College
Sarah Lawrence College
U of Washington
Northern Michigan U
Lesley
Hunter College
Chicago State

I can't afford to apply to 14 schools, I'll go bankrupt! But any insight on which ones I should definitely keep and def. get rid of would be great. I've already learned there are no "safety schools" when it comes to an MFA, but is there anything on the list that comes close?

Thanks guys!


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Jul 13, 2008, 9:52 PM

Post #63 of 1018 (17384 views)
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     Re: [whyGA77] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hey whyGA,

Sorry to hear about the waitlist situation, I can't imagine being strung along this late into the game.

Regarding your list, I think it looks good, except maybe for N. Mich. I applied there this last year as my ultimate safety school, knowing that they receive maybe 40-60 applications a year. Those odds are much better than most programs, but range across three genres (Fic, NF, Poetry). As it turns out, I didn't get in, and was given a nice explanation as to why I didn't, via email:



Iím writing to thank your for applying to our MFA program and also to inform you of our admission decisions. It is my sad task to report that we were unable to admit you to our program for next year. The MFA program is quite small, which makes admission very competitive, and, as it turned out, we were able to admit even fewer people this year than usual. You will receive official confirmation of this decision by surface mail.

I do have, however, what I hope is some good news. We also have an MA program with a writing track. This program is similar to the MFA, though shorter, and it does not require a book-length thesis, as does the MFA. A (shorter) thesis is, however, one of the options for the MA. Our MA program is a bit larger than the MFA, and less competitive, and it also offers possibilities for funding. If this sounds attractive to you, we invite you to apply to our MA program. If you would like to be considered for admission, and for funding, please contact Dr. Raymond Ventre, our Director of English Graduate Studies. You should contact Dr. Ventre within the next few days, since the MA admission committee will be meeting at the end of next week to begin considering whom we can fund with teaching assistantships.



This was both very sad and somewhat exciting simultaneously, because I was eventually admitted to the MA program and was given serious consideration for funding until I was notified by SIUC of my admittance off the waitlist. So, I never did find out if I was going to be funded, but the MA program looked like a lot of fun and worth while. I guess what I am trying to get at, in regards to NMU's MFA program, is that it appears as if it is incredibly difficult to get admitted if you haven't already attended the MA program. I may be wrong on this, but it seems to me that anyone who just spent two years working closely with the admissions committee in writing workshops in the MA program would have a gigantic advantage over a candidate sight unseen. Not to mention the fact that it appears they are accepting fewer candidates than years previous. I may be mistaken, perhaps you should consult Seth Abramson's blog on the actual numbers, but I think they admit 6-8 students a year across three genres. So, probably 2 NF, 2 Fic, 3 Poetry; and keep in mind, the admitted students probably just finished with their MA from NMU.

Hope this helps!
I would add SIU-Carbondale to your list. GREAT funding.

Rick


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Jul 14, 2008, 1:37 AM

Post #64 of 1018 (17357 views)
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     Re: [richardkae] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

This inspires me to post my ever-evolving list as well. I would greatly appreciate some insights. The list is terribly bloated. Please suggest changes! (I'm applying for poetry.)


Alabama
Arkansas
Bowling Green
Colorado State
Indiana
McNeese
Michener Center
Michigan
Minnesota
Ohio State
Ole Miss
SIU-Carbondale
UIUC
Virginia
VCU
Virginia tech
Wisconsin

I have also considered applying to the MA programs at Northern Michigan, North Texas, Texas Tech, and Cincinnati. I haven't really decided if I want to apply to any MAs at all, though.
Oh, and to chime in about Northern Michigan: I have a good poet friend who went there for his MA. He worked closely with Austin Hummel and made some huge progress. He's now doing an MFA at Florida, so obviously he's writing very well. I have only heard good things about Hummel.

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/

(This post was edited by NickMcRae on Jul 14, 2008, 1:39 AM)


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Jul 14, 2008, 11:28 AM

Post #65 of 1018 (17329 views)
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     Re: [NickMcRae] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Probably not hugely helpful, but as far as poetry goes, there are a few faculty members on your list that I've heard great things about: Rodney Jones at Southern Illinois is great, I've only had him for a few workshops a long time ago, but he's an incredibly incisive reader and all around nice guy; Bob Hicock at VT is supposed to be stellar; Wojahn at VCU; and you might know this already, but Charles Wright is on his way out at UVA. And is Wiconsin in a year that they accept poetry apps? Don't they alternate? All that aside, great list...I would try to cut about 5-7 schools if only to save your wallet...17 x $40/app = $680 before you even step in a classroom. Good luck!


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 14, 2008, 12:44 PM

Post #66 of 1018 (17309 views)
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     Re: [whyGA77] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

WhyGA77:

Sorry to hear about your New School situation. I'm not sure what the deal is with the administration there. There always seems to be some horror story about their application process on here. Personally I never received a response at all. Waist list, rejection or acceptance. Not until long past my deadline for other schools and only after I'd badgered them several times.

As for safety schools, you are right that there are not really any. The few that would qualify are probably so low quality that you wouldn't want to apply.

However, the closest thing to a safety school is probably one of the large programs. Consider putting a few of those on your list.
Good luck.


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Jul 14, 2008, 4:27 PM

Post #67 of 1018 (17269 views)
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     Re: [whyGA77] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

 
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Chicago State, while probably an actual safety school, is not worth applying to. I came across it in my research last year and found zip for funding, and not mention zip for reputation. The rest of your list looks stellar, though.


whyGA77


Jul 14, 2008, 4:38 PM

Post #68 of 1018 (17265 views)
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     Re: [richardkae] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Thanks so much guys, that's a huge help. And yeah, even though I've been out of college for over a year I still consider myself a broke college kid, so funding is huge for me. I'm going to keep trucking along and try to narrow this list down to about 8 or 9 schools before the summer's over. I really didn't want to have to go through this whole process again, but I had no idea how hard it would be last year.


hamholio


Jul 15, 2008, 9:41 PM

Post #69 of 1018 (17162 views)
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     Re: [stephkarto1] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  


Quote
And, coincidentally, University of Florida has an *excellent* comp/rhet program and requires all of its students to take a pedagogy class.


Only the English MA / PhD students have to take the pedagogy class - - not the MFA students.


stephkarto1
Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Jul 16, 2008, 6:37 PM

Post #70 of 1018 (17095 views)
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     Re: [hamholio] best teaching of writing programs [In reply to]  

This is, perhaps, new; when I was in the program, it was a requirement of us, as it was a requirement of anyone who was to be a teaching assistant (which included all of the creative writing kids).

Oh times do change, sometimes...


lovemardou


Jul 17, 2008, 1:42 AM

Post #71 of 1018 (17055 views)
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     Re: [NickMcRae] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

nick! haha, i knew i'd see one or another of us on here soon enough.

i've pared down my list (again). i started out by only wanting to apply to a few programs, but unfortunately things have grown as i've done more research. anyway, you've inspired me to post what i have so far, in no particular order:

Michener
Virginia
NYU
Houston
Cornell
Oregon
Wisconsin
Vanderbilt
Michigan
Minnesota

i'm applying for poetry. can anyone offer up any thoughts on the poetry programs at these schools, or on any programs i'm blatantly missing from my list? i'm on the hunt, specifically, for good funding. (it would probably seem, then, that i'm missing wash u -- but i've spent some considerable time in st louis and i'm just not that fond of the city. i might add it at the last moment, or save it for next year if this is a bust. and nyu has snuck onto my list for the opposite reason - i'd love to be in new york next fall!)

university of illinois in particular has been on and off my list -- any thoughts? i'm in-state, so i get a tuition discount, but their funding situation is a bit confusing, or maybe i've just read too many websites this past week. is there anyone from the program who can give me their take on it?

bri


(This post was edited by lovemardou on Jul 17, 2008, 1:44 AM)


Raignn



Jul 17, 2008, 9:50 AM

Post #72 of 1018 (17034 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I have a post one page one or two that includes info about Illinois. Basically, their funding is awesome, keep them on your list!


stephkarto1
Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Jul 17, 2008, 10:03 AM

Post #73 of 1018 (17032 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

UNC Greensboro and (smile) University of Florida are great schools to apply to if you're funding-minded and teaching-minded. The faculty at these schools is also splendid, and you would get a top-notch education, a strong sense that your teachers are *mentors* for you and your writing, and the foundations of a pretty stallar sense of a 'writing community' amongst your peers.

Also, both of these programs have awesome literary journals, if working on that sort of thing is an interest of yours.


mchard


Jul 17, 2008, 11:41 AM

Post #74 of 1018 (17017 views)
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     Re: [stephkarto1] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Purdue and Indiana are both excellent programs with great funding. They're also relatively close to Illinois as well. All students are funded at both programs.

Anyway, lots of great programs in the Midwest. Good luck,

M.


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Jul 17, 2008, 2:06 PM

Post #75 of 1018 (16990 views)
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     Re: [mchard] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Not to mention Southern Illinois- Carbondale. Funding is fantastic and their poetry professors are top notch.


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Jul 17, 2008, 5:39 PM

Post #76 of 1018 (20411 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Bri!!! It's about time I ran into another Bucknell fellow in here!

So your list looks pretty sweet. When you mentioned Illinois, you were talking about UIUC, yes? If so, I don't have any first-hand knowledge, but it seems like I've only heard good things about the funding situation there. If you apply there, we'll be applying to 6 of the same places (Michener, Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and UIUC)! Maybe we'll even get into some of the same places? :)

Yow-zaa!


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/


Raignn



Jul 18, 2008, 9:25 AM

Post #77 of 1018 (20366 views)
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     Re: [mchard] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Yes, both of those programs were outlined in my response, which was all about Midwest schools!

Here it is: http://www.pw.org/speakeasy/gforum.cgi?post=268325#268325

I outlined what I know about Illinois, Western Michigan, Purdue, IU, Pittsburgh, and Ohio State.

And when I say full funding I mean stipend + tuition remission.


calumnian


Jul 26, 2008, 3:17 PM

Post #78 of 1018 (20245 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hey folks,

I finished a B.FA in Creative Writing last April and I'm applying for M.FA programs for Fall 2009. In the meantime I'm working as Assistant Editor of a magazine, prepping my portfolio and trying to sort out where I will apply.

My priorities are:

1) Funding: the majority of students are fully funded with a tuition waiver and a stipend of some kind (whether fellowship, gradership, ta-ship, etc)
2) Teaching Opportunities (with Editing/Internship Opportunities coming secondary)
3) Interdisciplinary work and experimental writing is permitted and encouraged (a single genre limitation seems like forcing a composer to write only string quartets).
4) Location: Northeastern states, North-Central states or the West Coast

My list so far includes:

University of Wisconsin
Genres: Poetry (2009) and Fiction (2010)
(interdisciplinary work is encouraged)
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Length: two years
Deadline: December 15
Number Admitted: 6 per genre
Number of Applicants: ?
Teaching Opportunities: one class of intro cw in 1st year, one class of composition in 2nd
Editing Opportunities: ?
Faculty: Laurie Moore, etc
Rank: Atlantic Monthly up and coming program, PW 10th
Requirements: 3.00 GPA in last two years or a B
Deadline: December 15th
Funding:
a) tuition remissions and health benefits for everyone
b) teaching assistantship: 1 class each term ($10,300-$10,800)
c) $3000 summer scholarship

University of Minnesota

Location: Minneapolis-St Paul
Genre: poetry, fiction and literary nonfiction (genre experimentation encouraged)
Length: three years
Deadline: December 20th
Number Admitted: 13-15 total (4-5 per genre)
Rank: pw 11th
Teaching Opportunities: yes
Editing Opportunities: lit journal and young writer mentoring program
Application Notes: GRE Required for fellowships only
Funding: everyone for the full three years
a) teaching assistantships, research/administrative assistantships all include
stipend, full tuition waiver plus health benefits
b) other awards, residencies and retreats as well

Brown University
Genres: Fiction, Poetry, Playwriting, Hypermedia, Interdisciplinary
(students are encouraged to take workshops in other genres)
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Number Admitted: 15 total
# of Applications Received:
Rank: PW 6th
Tuition:
Teaching Opportunities: one writing workshop per term
Editing Opportunities:
Funding: Everyone
a) first year fellowship: tuition, health insurance, small stipend
b) first year proctorships: nonacademic employment
c) second year: teaching assistantship (one writing workshop per semester)
pays full stipend, tuition and health insurance

University of Michigan
Genres: Poetry and Fiction (no cross genre possibilities)
Location: Ann Arbour, Michigan
Length: two years
Number Admitted:
# of Applicants Recieved:
Rank: Atlantic Monthly top 10 MFA Program
Teaching Opportunities: 1st year gradership, 2nd year teaching
Editing Opportunities:
Funding: Everyone
a) first year tuition waiver + stipend ($16,000 + $6000 for summer)
b) second year tuition waiver + stipend ($14,700) + health care
c) $250 towards conference travel
d) $50 for contest/publication postage
e) summer internship in publishing/arts admin ($2000)
f) essay contest for residency in cottage in Ireland (+ $3500 for travel expenses)
g) InsideOut Detroit teaching cw 10 h/week in Detroit high schools and
editing the high school lit mag

University of Virginia:
Genres: Poetry and Fiction (no cross-genre possibilities)
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Length: two years
Number Admitted: 5 poets and 7 fiction writers
# of Applications Received: 500
Rank: Atlantic Monthly top 10 MFA program
Tuition: $14,900 (out-of-state)
Teaching Opportunities: one class per term 2nd year
Editing Opportunities: 6 lit journals
Funding: Everyone
a) fellowship covers first year tuition/fees + stipend
b) instructorship covers 2nd year health insurance/tuition + $9,250 salary



What am I missing?

Also, any Canadian applicants out there? I'm concerned that international applicants might have to prove they have sufficient funds (ie: tuition/living expenses) before being issued a student visa.


umass76


Jul 26, 2008, 3:59 PM

Post #79 of 1018 (20235 views)
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     Re: [calumnian] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Calumnian,

Hi there! Okay, I'll take a crack at it. In answer to your question, based on your criteria you're missing:

1. University of Califonia at Irvine
2. Cornell University
3. Indiana University
4. Purdue University
5. University of Oregon
6. Ohio State University
7. Syracuse University
8. Johns Hopkins University
9. University of Illinois
10. University of Iowa
11. Southern Illinois University
12. University of Notre Dame
13. Minnesota State University at Mankato
14. University of Massachusetts

That said, I'm not sure what you meant by criteria #3. The only notably experimental-friendly program you've got on your current list is Brown, and all of the programs on both your list and the list above require students to select a concentration. I don't know of any schools that specifically prohibit a student from taking seminars out-of-genre (at Iowa, for instance, I could take all fiction seminars for two years if I wanted, despite being a poet and in the poetry-concentration program), but I also don't know of any programs that allow, say, poets to do more than (at most) take one workshop out-of-genre across a two or three year program, which wouldn't really qualify as "interdisciplinary" given the fractional number of credits a single workshop brings (in the big picture of the entire degree). The only program I'm aware of that specifically has interdisciplinary studies as part of its official mission statement, and not merely an (at most) across-the-board, minimal core requirement, is Northwestern University's new MFA, which meets most of your requirements except for the all-important funding piece.

Most importatly, though--and the reason I've put such a barrage of school recommendations, above--is that it would be extremely unwise for any applicant to apply to only four schools, particularly when two of those schools (Wisconsin and Virginia) are tied for the lowest acceptance rate in the United States (1.5%), and two others (Brown and Michigan) are only a fraction behind. Minnesota is also an incredibly hard admit. I know you said your list is just an early draft, but at the same time, I just want to make sure (for your sake!) that your four rigid requirements are not so rigid that you end up applying to anything less than ten schools--fifteen, if all of them are going to be in the U.S. top 25.

Taking your requirements into account, though--and now specifically thinking about requirement #3--I'd say the biggest omissions on your list are Cornell University, University of Iowa, and University of Califonia at Irvine. Claims that Iowa has a conservative aesthetic are ridiculous; in both the poetry and fiction programs, I've never seen anyone do anything but write whatever and however they feel like writing, period.

If a program admits you, it means--by definition--they're looking to support you in writing better the sort of poetry/fiction that already got you into the school in the first place. It's one reason I think aesthetic prerequisites (almost always based on hearsay, anyway) aren't very helpful in making application-related or matriculation decisions, as the admissions process is a self-selecting process in at least one sense: MFA faculties don't, as a rule, admit people just for the purpose of trying to fundamentally change their aesthetic.

Best of luck,
Seth

MFA Rankings and More at: http://www.sethabramson.blogspot.com/


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 26, 2008, 4:01 PM)


S.K.J.


Jul 27, 2008, 11:11 PM

Post #80 of 1018 (20151 views)
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     Re: [calumnian] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

calumunmain,

I would have to agree with Seth. When I first showed my professor my list (Iowa, Brown, Cornell, UC Irvine, Syracuse) she said I was setting myself up for dissapointment. Not that I wasn't good enought to get into those places, just that I was working against some serious odds. She suggested applying to 10 programs at the least and 15 if I could afford it. She also suggested having some safety schools. Now my list is 10 long and could get even longer.


writerteacher


Jul 27, 2008, 11:35 PM

Post #81 of 1018 (20141 views)
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     Re: [S.K.J.] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

S.K.J. --

Did your advisor define "safety school"? I ask, because the common wisdom on these boards is that there is no such thing.

Surely, there are programs that receive fewer applications per year than others, which makes the applicant's odds better. But as far as writing goes... I don't know of any program I'd consider a shoo-in, since all admissions committees are looking for the finest writing they can find, the definition of which depends entirely on the individuals on the admissions committees.

And many programs, I've learned, don't fill quotas. That is, if they don't find enough writing that stokes them, they'll admit fewer students than they have room/funding for.

I'd love to see a discussion -- maybe a thread all its own -- on "safety schools" and what that means.

My best to you,
WT


S.K.J.


Jul 27, 2008, 11:54 PM

Post #82 of 1018 (20135 views)
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     Re: [writerteacher] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

 
WT,

You're right. There probably are no such things as "safety schools." I just meant that certain schools seem to fly a little lower under the radar than others. My professor seemed to think there was a certain amount of luck involved in the whole process and her whole point was to increase my odds by applying across the board not just to the schools that always seem to appear at the top of any ranking list, since those school inevitably attract more applicants.

SKJ


umass76


Jul 28, 2008, 11:02 AM

Post #83 of 1018 (20093 views)
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     Re: [calumnian] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Calumnian,

I stand corrected. It looks like University of California at Riverside requires substantial interdisciplinary work. Their website claims TAships are available (though it does not say for what percentage of the admitted class), and it's on the West Coast, so it may well fit your requirements.

Be well,
S.


ejdifili
Emily

Jul 28, 2008, 1:26 PM

Post #84 of 1018 (20060 views)
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     Re: [S.K.J.] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To

You're right. There probably are no such things as "safety schools." I just meant that certain schools seem to fly a little lower under the radar than others. My professor seemed to think there was a certain amount of luck involved in the whole process and her whole point was to increase my odds by applying across the board not just to the schools that always seem to appear at the top of any ranking list, since those school inevitably attract more applicants.



I think the reason there are no "safety" MFA programs is because acceptance is largely based on subjective criteria. If you apply for graduate studies in non-"artistic" disciplines, even including subjects like literature or philosophy, your acceptance is based more on measurable acheivements like grades, GRE scores, previous experience, etc.

Acceptance to an MFA program is based primarily on one thing: your writing sample, how "good" it is judged by the people who happen to read it, and how well they think your work fits into their program. This forum is riddled with stories of writers who have lists of prestigious publications and were rejected from every program to which they applied. This is why Seth wisely suggests candidates apply to at least ten schools.

I myself applied to only eight last year, and received just one acceptance after weeks on the wait list. Granted, that's all you need, and I'm thrilled to be starting my program in the next few weeks (!). Still, last February through the end of April were some of the most stressful months of my life, which I totally didn't see coming. I didn't get news of my acceptance until the last week of April, and I was convinced I was in for another year of applications.

Note that I only applied to "top 20" programs, because I foolishly believed, due to my previous accomplishments--both academic and creative--that I was a shoo-in. Ha! In this game, nobody is a shoo-in, because there is really no way to judge what kind of a candidate you are. It's not like applying in other disciplines, where you can look at your 4.0 GPA, perfect GRE scores, extensive publication history, stellar recommendations and years of field experience, then know you are headed to Harvard.


Raysen


Jul 28, 2008, 1:42 PM

Post #85 of 1018 (20052 views)
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     Re: [ejdifili] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Great points.

Regarding how I pick schools, which I imagine is no different from how others pick, I placed my schools on an A-tier, B-tier, and C-tier and I'm applying to 4 schools in each tier.

A-tier:
UC-Irvine
Iowa
Michigan
Columbia

B-tier:
Wisconsin
Oregon
Arizona
Montana

C-tier:
New Mexico
San Diego State
Colorado State
Illinois

You will probably disagree with the schools in my tier system, especially the C-tier, but that's what I'm going with. Feel free to rip it apart.

In the meantime, I'm busy editing down my 25-page short story into a 12-pager. Aaaaaargggghhh!!


umass76


Jul 28, 2008, 1:52 PM

Post #86 of 1018 (20047 views)
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     Re: [ejdifili] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hi Emily,

Great post, and I'm so glad everything worked out for you. One thing I'd note (and I'm sure you'd agree) is that the ideal scenario, all things being equal, is acceptance to three or more programs--not for the purpose of stroking the ego, but for the far more pragmatic one of giving oneself (as applicant) as many options as possible. Many students were unlucky last year and the year before and, while getting into one school out of six or eight applications, weren't able to go to their sole-option program because no funding was offered them, or because for various unexpected reasons the location of the program was no longer feasible or desireable, or additional information about the program (e.g., a visit) soured the applicant on the school post-application, or a faculty member who had been the original impetus for the application chose to depart the program in question. And many other similar scenarios; the list is endless, and a lot can happen in the five months between November/December and March/April.

With multiple acceptances, the candidate not only has multiple options--and some time and space to really begin weighing which features of specific programs are the most important and valuable--but also in many instances can discuss their acceptances with administrative officials or faculty at individual programs, which sometimes results in an amendment to their financial aid package (NB: to be clear, this is not something I did myself, or would be inclined to do; that said, A., I know many, many people who did it, and B., sometimes programs will amend their financial aid offers simply upon discovering you are weighing other options--without any haggling, bargaining, cajoling, or needling on your part whatsoever).

So if people wonder, "Why can't I just apply to eight schools, if I'm only looking for one acceptance?", the answer is, "You can, but if you're only applying to top 25 schools eight applications probably won't be enough (for the typical applicant) for even a single acceptance, and if you're hoping to having even two options while applying to only top 25 programs, let alone three, likely 12 to 15 applications will be necessary."

Just wanted to clear that up, so that my "15 is ideal" theory makes some sense. And yes, I know there's also the "15 is damned expensive!" school of thought, too, which I also do subscribe to.

So, like anything, it's an if-you-can-possibly-afford-it piece of advice.

Be well, all,
Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 28, 2008, 1:54 PM)


S.K.J.


Jul 28, 2008, 3:55 PM

Post #87 of 1018 (20015 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

 
ejdifili,

Thanks for sharing your story. That's a good lesson. Personally, I be relieved if I get in anywhere at this point.

Raysen,

Your tiers make sense to me. Everyone has their own biases, and some might say Columbia doesn't belong in the top tier anymore, but I don't. I still think it's a top notch program if you can afford it.

Seth,

Your post was basically what my professor said to me verbatim. Apply to as many schools as you can afford.

Thanks to all of you!


umass76


Jul 28, 2008, 5:01 PM

Post #88 of 1018 (19995 views)
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     Re: [S.K.J.] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

FWIW, I think Columbia is indisputably a first-tier program, if you can afford it.

That may not be the case three years from now (for reasons of cohort), but it is at the moment.

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 28, 2008, 5:02 PM)


Raignn



Jul 29, 2008, 10:17 AM

Post #89 of 1018 (19933 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I'll have to second or third applying to as many schools as you can afford. I only applied to 6 and it was VERY nerve-wracking. I felt incredibly lucky, in the end, to have been accepted by four, waitlisted by one, and rejected by Virginia :). It normally doesn't work out so well! Cast a wide net and you'll have more options in the end.


lapwing


Jul 29, 2008, 10:50 AM

Post #90 of 1018 (19921 views)
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     Re: [S.K.J.] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
WT,

You're right. There probably are no such things as "safety schools." I just meant that certain schools seem to fly a little lower under the radar than others. My professor seemed to think there was a certain amount of luck involved in the whole process and her whole point was to increase my odds by applying across the board not just to the schools that always seem to appear at the top of any ranking list, since those school inevitably attract more applicants.

SKJ


Echoing SKJ: While there donít seem to be any safety schools when it comes to well-funded, elite traditional residency programs, maybe there are some schools that are easier to get into than others (though still not easy to get into, in terms of a guarantee). Here are some proposed categories of safety or ďsaferĒ schools, with most of them being otherwise unappealing for one reason or another:

1. Schools with relatively poor funding, such as Columbia (this attribute also figures into many of the other categories below).

2. Schools with low yields (i.e., relatively few of the students they accept actually choose to attend, usually because thereís poor funding plus urban cost of living). An NYC-area school like Sarah Lawrence is one example. Another is Pitt.

3. Schools that receive relatively few applications. They may admit only a few students as well (so theyíre just as statistically competitive), but at least it will be a little easier for the admissions committee to remember your writing sample. Examples include NC State and Bowling Green.

4. Schools that admit a lot of students overall (relatively speaking) such as the University of Arizona. Again, they may be just as competitive in statistical terms . . .

5. Schools that admit close to the same number of nonfiction MFA students as they do fiction or poetry MFA students. Iowa State? There just donít seem to be as many people applying in nonfiction, the so-called fourth genre.

6. Brand-new low-residency programs, such as Alaska or Converse College.

7. Lesser-known low-residency programs, such as Pine Manor.

8. Elite low-residency programs that admit 10 percent or more of applicants. (The problem of course is paying $30,000 for a Bennington.)

9. Schools of art and design that have writing programs, such as Cal Arts and OTIS.

10. ďNight-schoolĒ or ďadult-educationĒ MFA programs geared toward working adults, such as Northwestern.

11. Brand-new MFA programs, such as UCSD.

I guess I've tortured the definition of "safety school" so much that I'm left with schools that few would want to attend. But then again, a safety school is, by definition, not that great, right?

--Lapwing


Raysen


Jul 29, 2008, 11:34 AM

Post #91 of 1018 (19904 views)
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     Re: [lapwing] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To

In Reply To


3. Schools that receive relatively few applications. They may admit only a few students as well (so theyíre just as statistically competitive), but at least it will be a little easier for the admissions committee to remember your writing sample. Examples include NC State and Bowling Green.


You brought up a lot of interesting factors, lapwing. But I wonder how we can get info like low yields and low applications. The school website will often say they receive "hundreds" of applications for a few spots. They rarely give actual numbers of the number of applications. Well, I take that back...sometimes they mention numbers, other times they don't.


umass76


Jul 29, 2008, 11:45 AM

Post #92 of 1018 (19901 views)
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     Re: [lapwing] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Lapwing,

That's an excellent, excellent post. Only thing I'd quibble with is that I don't think there are, at present, any low-residency programs with acceptance rates under 10% (Warren Wilson is the most selective, at 12.5%), so really any low-residency program would fit into your rubric.

I also think there are, actually, tons of great programs which fall under the--if not "safety school" by any means, then simply what I've called in the past "higher-odds"--rubric you laid out. I think the three most interesting categories there, the ones including the best programs, are the "night" MFA grouping (which right now includes only the excellent and surprisingly affordable Northwestern MFA), the "large class" grouping (which does include a few prestigious schools where at least a handful of admittees will get funding, like Arizona, George Mason, New Hampshire, and New Mexico, and some where many admittees will, like Iowa), and the "small applicant pool" grouping (perhaps the best grouping of the lot, pragmatically speaking, as it includes well-funded schools going through meteoric reputation rises, like Alabama, Purdue, Vanderbilt, North Carolina at Greensboro, Arizona State, Florida, Bowling Green, and Illinois).

The key, I think--assuming an applicant with either limited funds or no desire to pay for the MFA degree--is to avoid programs in New York City and California (excepting the well-funded Irvine), and other notoriously unfunded programs (e.g., Pitt, SAIC), have realistic expectations about the most popular programs in the "ultra-selective/ultra-funded" category (Cornell, Texas, Wisconsin, Virginia, Irvine, Brown, Michigan, Oregon, and Indiana, all "fully-funded" in at least some sense of the term, and with a less than 4% acceptance rate), and load up on the many excellent, well-funded, second-, third-, and fourth- tier programs out there (meaning, schools ranked #13 to #48) that have smaller applicant pools and/or higher acceptance rates, but still good funding, many of which are listed above.

That said, I'm still tempted to say that, even for those applicants who follow the above prescription, the application cycle--in terms of selecting which schools to apply to, and whether or not the applicant ends up feeling like s/he pulled a "coup" and got into a school s/he is stunned and thrilled to be accepted to--can be made, or broken, in the schools that fall into a sort of [absolutely non-pejoratively speaking] "gray area" (well-regarded, mid-size applicant pools, average to elite funding, very selective but not an impossible admit, low-first or second- or third- tier), for instance (from approximately toughest admit this year to least):

Minnesota
Montana
Syracuse
Arkansas
U. Washington
Houston
Washington U.
North Carolina at Wilmington
Ohio State
Southern Illinois
Mississippi
Hollins
Penn State
Colorado State
LSU

These are the schools where chances of admission are much tougher to judge, largely because more is known about their funding than their selectivity, but (despite not having admissions numbers for some of these) their reputation is nevertheless well-established. I think a good route for many applicants will end up being something like (vaguely like):

4 toughest-admit schools
2-3 large class-size schools
4 small applicant pool schools
5 "gray area" schools
1-2 less-selective schools * OR (more likely) well-funded unknowns/less-knowns ** OR new programs ***

* This would include schools that don't fare at all well on the P&W Reader Poll, report no acceptance-rate data, and are not known to have significant funding; a strong applicant who gets rejected from all other programs may nevertheless be admitted to and be one of the rare "funded admittees" at a school in this grouping.

** Includes McNeese State, UNLV, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, VCU, Idaho, Miami, GCSU, Wichita State, Minnesota at Mankato.

*** E.g., Rutgers, UMass at Boston, UCSD, Wyoming, etc.

I realize that's proposing 16 to 18 applications, so realistically I could see applicants shaving off 1 to 5 schools total from various of those five categories.

Be well,
Seth

Rankings & Acceptance Rates Available at: http://www.sethabramson.blogspot.com/


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 29, 2008, 11:52 AM)


lapwing


Jul 29, 2008, 12:08 PM

Post #93 of 1018 (19883 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To

In Reply To

In Reply To


3. Schools that receive relatively few applications. They may admit only a few students as well (so theyíre just as statistically competitive), but at least it will be a little easier for the admissions committee to remember your writing sample. Examples include NC State and Bowling Green.


You brought up a lot of interesting factors, lapwing. But I wonder how we can get info like low yields and low applications. The school website will often say they receive "hundreds" of applications for a few spots. They rarely give actual numbers of the number of applications. Well, I take that back...sometimes they mention numbers, other times they don't.

Raysen, I agree that schools' Web sites usually leave us applicants in the dark about this stuff. But I think you can safely assume that a big-city program with poor funding will have a low yield. That said, I'm hoping that Seth will respond with a better answer, because his blog is where I found info on yield (as a concept) and on which schools get how many applications. --Lapwing


Raysen


Jul 29, 2008, 2:45 PM

Post #94 of 1018 (19847 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Does anyone have any insights on the University of New Mexico MFA program? It's fairly new.

(I don't think I'm allowed to create new threads here. :( )


Raysen


Jul 29, 2008, 5:28 PM

Post #95 of 1018 (19815 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I also want to bring up another topic: applying to your alma mater.

I've heard that it's best to save your money and not apply to your alma mater. Schools want diversity and want their students from a wide variety of undergrad backgrounds. For example, I went to Michigan for undergrad and therefore, I shouldn't apply to the Michigan MFA program because these creative writing programs want diversity. This is just an example. I don't know for sure whether Michigan does this or not.

Could anyone comment on this? Is this another myth? Do these schools just want, first and foremost, the "best" candidates based on the writing samples?


Scarlo


Jul 29, 2008, 5:34 PM

Post #96 of 1018 (19810 views)
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     Re: [lapwing] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To




1. Schools with relatively poor funding, such as Columbia (this attribute also figures into many of the other categories below).




Do you really think that's true about Columbia? I have no idea myself. I'm just asking.


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 29, 2008, 5:54 PM

Post #97 of 1018 (19807 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I think safety school are a tough topic. Everything said above makes a lot of sense, but at the same time since there are no true safety schools maybe it is best not to worry about it? I don't know. When I applied, all the school I was accepted to or wait listed at where at the very top of my own list and the rankings. The schools I had put on as "safety schools" rejected me promptly. In retrospect I wish I had only gone for the very best schools... but perhaps that is easy to say since I did get in. If I hadn't, maybe I'd be complaining about how I should put safety schools on.

Still, for my money the number one application factor should be quality. (Funding and location might be the most important factors for picking where to go from your acceptances, but quality should be the main factor in deciding where to apply). Quality is hard to define, but a school with good peers, good teachers, good alumni success and so on is the best bet for a good education and good experience.

I'd probably put on some large schools and maybe a few up-and-coming programs that look like they have a great faculty and exist in quality universities, but I would go for as many of the best programs whose faculty impress you as you can....then hope for the best. You don't want to be caught at the end of the process kicking yourself for not applying to Iowa and Michigan (or wherever you kick off your list to make room for safety schools) and never knowing if you would have gotten in.

Or maybe not...I'm sure some people wouldn't give that a second thought, but it would eat at me till the end of days. Just my 2 cents.


jaywalke


Jul 30, 2008, 9:10 AM

Post #98 of 1018 (19753 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I also want to bring up another topic: applying to your alma mater.

Could anyone comment on this? Is this another myth?


It's not just a myth, but it also does not apply across the board. I've certainly heard, from graduate professors in varied disciplines, that they want to avoid the impression of "incest," and they want their undergrads to have a different experience.

The same holds true for in-house hiring after graduation. Some schools won't consider their own grad students for tenure tracks because they don't want to appear insular.

Other schools don't seem to care. I think it's personal opinion rather than written policy, and the odds are that the brighter the student's star, the less likely it is to matter.


lovemardou


Jul 30, 2008, 12:11 PM

Post #99 of 1018 (19712 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

not to turn this in a different direction, but seth -- what do you know about houston? i've been told by two different teachers now that i'd do well there, but unfortunately their website is in a bit of disarray and i can't seem to glean that much information from it. what's the funding like? are there any houston students out there who can talk about their experience?


umass76


Jul 30, 2008, 5:49 PM

Post #100 of 1018 (19657 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

LM,

Which genre?

S.


lovemardou


Jul 30, 2008, 5:51 PM

Post #101 of 1018 (18175 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

poetry!


umass76


Jul 30, 2008, 6:05 PM

Post #102 of 1018 (18172 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Houston:

* Top 20 overall (somewhere #16 to #19)
* Top 10 poetry (faculty Top 5)
* Top 30 fiction
* Top 25 funding (a 75%+ funded program [i.e. 75% receive full/near-full funding])
* "topping-off" fellowships available
* Tier 2 in comprehensive rankings
* very low cost of living (for a city) [Houston is a former pit now making a slow resurgence (think Cleveland 10 to 15 years ago)]
* Also hosts Top 5 Creative Writing PhD. program (Top 2 poetry)
* 10 poets/10 fiction-writers admitted per year (program is considered mid-size)
* Post-graduate publishing record is strong (Top 10 to Top 15)
* Post-graduate placement in academia is not as strong (approx. Top 50)

The one danger: your professors are most likely working off the 1996 USNWR rankings, which had Houston as a Top 5 program--in other words they're paying you a very high compliment indeed, but they also may not be as informed about which schools you can/should target as current conventional wisdom would have it (i.e., I do think many very well-intentioned advisers are still working off the mid-1990s MFA landscape). At this point it isn't a Top 10 program overall, but it's a very, very strong program, and seems likely to hold in the Top 25 for another decade at a minimum. In poetry it should definitely be on anyone's application list, assuming you don't mind living in Texas.

Be well,
Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 30, 2008, 6:07 PM)


lovemardou


Jul 30, 2008, 6:11 PM

Post #103 of 1018 (18165 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

thanks so much for all your information! it's really helpful.

i think it was recommended to me largely because of the importance the program seems to place on literary studies (i looked for a long time at getting a critical phd) and academic rigor. while i don't mind the idea of doing a studio mfa, i'd love a program that places some emphasis on critical work while still focusing largely on the writing. an ma in creative writing doesn't really appeal to me -- i'm looking for a terminal degree, among other reasons -- and so houston was suggested to me as a next-best option. i just need to get over the location!


umass76


Jul 30, 2008, 6:26 PM

Post #104 of 1018 (18161 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

LM,

It's true that every program has a different emphasis (or, really, balance) in terms of a "studio" versus "academic" atmosphere, which is usually best and most easily revealed by the program's course requirements for graduation. I do think, at a minimum, an MFA should require one workshop per semester; beyond that, I think the best programs allow the student near-complete flexibility in which electives can be taken, so a student can craft the sort of program they want. Two additional things I'll say: one, look at Cornell and Brown, they do seem to have an emphasis on theory (of course, they're also incredibly tough admits); second, keep in mind that your MFA professors will not be "academics," and won't have PhD. degrees, generally speaking. They're working poets, and some of them--to put it bluntly--don't like academics. Which means, if an academic environment is specifically important to you, and you don't want to go anywhere hostile to an academic/theory-oriented approach, I can't stress enough that you need to find a program where the professors (at least one or two) have PhD. degrees, and therefore won't be adverse to that sort of approach to writing. Otherwise, it's a crap-shoot as to your professors' temperaments (with the one caveat that more experimental poets, PhD. or no, tend by nature to be more open to theory and highly-intellectualized analyses of verse, so definitely read the work of prospective professors to gain some insight into their thinking). Be well,

Seth

MFA Rankings and Acceptance Rates at: http://www.sethabramson.blogspot.com/


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 30, 2008, 6:27 PM)


Raysen


Jul 30, 2008, 7:13 PM

Post #105 of 1018 (18143 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Seth,

From your own experience and knowledge and whatever inside info you may have, could you make a list of schools that are more "academic" and schools that are more "studio"? You don't need to do any research for this. Just off the top of your head based on what you know about the programs and their faculty. Obviously, I will do my own research but your list would be helpful and, more importantly, interesting. Of course, just because you label one school as "academic" doesn't necessarily mean ALL the faculty members are "academic," and vice versa for "studio."

Thanks,
Raysen


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Jul 31, 2008, 12:31 PM

Post #106 of 1018 (18079 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Bri,

One of my professors at UWG is a Houston alumnus, and according to him, assuming not too much has changed, the Houston program is a real kick in the ass in terms of literary study. But then you already knew that.

Have you been to Houston? I have to say that it is a sprawling industrial monster. It kinda gave me the heeby-jeebies. Though I'm sure it has its charms once you get to know the place. I'll probably be applying too, anyway. If this list will ever stop mutating and just die already.

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/


spamela


Jul 31, 2008, 1:16 PM

Post #107 of 1018 (18064 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

It might be helpful to apply to MFA programs that also offer Creative Writing PhDs. (Houston is one; USC, Utah, FSU, Denver, UNLV, etc.) Usually in these programs, the PhD and MFA workshops are combined and you're guaranteed to have peers and professors with academic/scholarly interests and talents. You could cross list schools with PhD programs and schools that provide full funding and have a pretty good list of options.


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Jul 31, 2008, 3:49 PM

Post #108 of 1018 (18036 views)
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     Re: [spamela] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I don't think Denver has both an MFA and a PhD in Creative Writing, just the PhD. Though it should be noted that Denver is one of the programs that has offered the PhD for the longest. Also, if my memory from the application process serves me correctly, the programs at UNLV and Denver are both a bit experiemental.

Another possibility would be a program that offers an MA in creative writing on a track to a PhD...some programs that come to mind are Missouri and Cincinnati. Good luck!


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


gcsumfa


Aug 1, 2008, 2:01 AM

Post #109 of 1018 (17968 views)
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     Re: [HollinsMFAer] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Western Michigan also offers the MFA and the PhD.


SevenFreckles


Aug 1, 2008, 10:53 AM

Post #110 of 1018 (17931 views)
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     Mystery programs? [In reply to]  

Iím trying to trim down my ridiculous list. So far Iíve actually added more schools to it than Iíve taken away. There are a few programs that Iím looking at that I havenít been able to find a ton of information on. Obviously, Iíve looked at their websites and such, but Iím trying to get what the general feel of the program is. So I figured Iíd just throw some of them out there and see if anyone has any insight. Thanks in advance!


Western Washington U. (MA in creative writing)
Bowling Green
University of Georgia
SUNY Brockport (MA in creative writing)

In particular the program at UGA perplexes me. Their website seems to be one of the least helpful that Iíve looked at. Thanks again. Oh, and Iím applying for poetry.


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Aug 4, 2008, 8:59 PM

Post #111 of 1018 (17828 views)
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     UGA MFA? [In reply to]  

I had no idea (until your post inspired me to do some research) that UGA even had an MFA now. Can anybody offer any insight as to what kinda of funding is available there? The website is, as was noted above, not very helpful.

Thanks,
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


Aug 7, 2008, 1:33 PM

Post #112 of 1018 (17713 views)
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     Other MFA programs [In reply to]  

Does anyone have information on any of the following schools beyond what is stated in their respective websites:

Purdue
Illinois
New Mexico

No one seems to talk about these schools much (unless, of course, I missed the discussion somewhere).

Thanks!


Zash
Zachary Ash

Aug 7, 2008, 6:09 PM

Post #113 of 1018 (17669 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Other MFA programs [In reply to]  

I've heard great things about Purdue. It is one of the fast up-and-comers.


Raysen


Aug 13, 2008, 2:56 PM

Post #114 of 1018 (17545 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
FWIW, I think Columbia is indisputably a first-tier program, if you can afford it.

That may not be the case three years from now (for reasons of cohort), but it is at the moment.

S.


Seth, could you explain why you said Columbia may no longer be a top-tier program in three years?

Thanks.


umass76


Aug 13, 2008, 4:17 PM

Post #115 of 1018 (17521 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hi Raysen,

If you look back at the threads from last year, you'll see a full discussion of this issue--but I don't necessarily want to open that can of worms again. As I said in my post above, I think it's a question of cohort (i.e., as a function of decreasing or stagnating selectivity, yield, and applicant pool size). Mind you, many others here and elsewhere don't agree with me, so this is merely one man's opinion of moonlight.

I'd also note--separate from the Columbia issue--that the First Tier of programs (which includes twelve schools) is so stunning at this point (across-the-board: reputation, funding, faculty, et. al.) that even schools which slip into the mid-second or high-third tier must be considered top-notch U.S. MFA programs. Keeping company with the likes of Johns Hopkins, University of Houston, Washington University at St. Louis, University of Washington, University or Oregon, University of Minnesota, and others of that ilk is absolutely nothing whatsoever to sneeze at.

Best,

Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 13, 2008, 4:18 PM)


Raysen


Aug 13, 2008, 4:33 PM

Post #116 of 1018 (17513 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Hi Raysen,

If you look back at the threads from last year, you'll see a full discussion of this issue--but I don't necessarily want to open that can of worms again. As I said in my post above, I think it's a question of cohort (i.e., as a function of decreasing or stagnating selectivity, yield, and applicant pool size). Mind you, many others here and elsewhere don't agree with me, so this is merely one man's opinion of moonlight.

I'd also note--separate from the Columbia issue--that the First Tier of programs (which includes twelve schools) is so stunning at this point (across-the-board: reputation, funding, faculty, et. al.) that even schools which slip into the mid-second or high-third tier must be considered top-notch U.S. MFA programs. Keeping company with the likes of Johns Hopkins, University of Houston, Washington University at St. Louis, University of Washington, University or Oregon, University of Minnesota, and others of that ilk is absolutely nothing whatsoever to sneeze at.

Best,

Seth


Thanks Seth! I thought that's what you meant.

I'm curious about all the first tier, second tier, and third tier schools (updated for 2009). I thought I read somewhere that a list was coming out in Tom Kealey's second edition. Also, the Atlantic Monthly may also release a list?

My stab at such a list based on funding, faculty, selectivity, etc:

First tier:
Iowa
Cornell
Michigan
Texas
UC Irvine
Indiana
Brown
Virginia
Columbia
Johns Hopkins
UMass (Amherst)
Wisconsin

Second tier:
Oregon
Washington U (St. Louis)
U of Washington (Seattle)
Houston
Notre Dame
Florida State
Purdue
Colorado State
Montana
Arizona
Minnesota
Ohio State

Others of note:
Illinois
New Mexico State
UNC-Greensboro
UNC-Wilmington
NYU
Penn State
Vanderbilt
Florida
Arizona State


(This post was edited by Raysen on Aug 13, 2008, 4:35 PM)


boberaden


Aug 13, 2008, 9:08 PM

Post #117 of 1018 (17470 views)
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     Certain schools to choose for a teaching career? [In reply to]  

Hello,

I'm narrowing my list and preparing to apply to programs this winter. As well as writing, I wish to pursue teaching as a career. Are there certain schools or types of schools which I should consider as an aspiring teacher? Will having an undergraduate minor in education help at all to be considered for teaching assistantships? Should I highlight this aspiration in my peronal statements?

Thanks,
B Raden


(This post was edited by boberaden on Aug 13, 2008, 9:10 PM)


ejdifili
Emily

Aug 13, 2008, 9:54 PM

Post #118 of 1018 (17460 views)
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     Re: [boberaden] Certain schools to choose for a teaching career? [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Will having an undergraduate minor in education help at all to be considered for teaching assistantships?


Well... possibly, but I doubt it. I am a certified educator in the state of Missouri and have taught high school for several years, but as I understand, K-12 teaching and college-level teaching are perceived as two different animals.

For example, when I finished my MA in Spanish, my grad school pedagogy classes and college-level teaching experience meant basically nothing as I attemped to land a high school teaching position. In the K-12 world, only education coursework and teacher certification means anything. Likewise, in academia, I don't think a background in elementary or secondary education is seen as that meaningful. Unfortunately, I think a lot of academics see education as an inferior field, assuming that prospective K-12 teachers spend all their time coloring and cutting alphabet letters from construction paper.

Personally, I feel confident that my education courses will serve me well as a college-level instructor, whether or not academics recognize it. I was not awarded a TAship by the Creative Writing dept at the university where I'm starting my MFA this year, but I did land a position as an adjunct instructor of Spanish (thanks to my MA). I also got a gig as a tutor at the Writing Center, and my education background probably was useful for that.


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Aug 24, 2008, 5:35 PM

Post #119 of 1018 (17328 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

So I know I already asked this earlier in the thread, but I figured I'd give it another shot now that this thread has died down a bit.

Can anyone offer any insight at all into UGA's MFA program? I am particularly interested in terms of funding. The program structure looks fine, the faculty is good, and I love Athens as a city, but, as has been stated before, their website is incredibly vague where funding is concerned.

Anything? Anyone?

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/


flobelle


Aug 26, 2008, 6:04 AM

Post #120 of 1018 (17214 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

How do we decide how competitive we are as applicants? I'm curious because it seems the only programs I'm interested in are very competitive, and I'm a little afraid. I'm applying in fiction mostly.

Looking at:

Michener
Michigan
Iowa (fiction and possibly nonfiction)
Irvine (possibly)
Virginia

and the Stegner.


ejdifili
Emily

Aug 26, 2008, 10:19 AM

Post #121 of 1018 (17190 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
How do we decide how competitive we are as applicants? I'm curious because it seems the only programs I'm interested in are very competitive, and I'm a little afraid. I'm applying in fiction mostly.

There's absolutely no way you know how competitive you are. If you've published short stories in prestigious magazines, or if you have a published novel, that's probably a good sign, but not definitive. If you really want to begin an MFA program next fall, I'd suggest applying to some less competitive schools as well. Nonetheless, you don't want to "pad" your list with programs you wouldn't really want to attend. With your list, though, you just have to recognize the fact that you may end up applying multiple years in a row before you get accepted at one of the schools you want, if you do get in at all.


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Aug 26, 2008, 10:47 AM

Post #122 of 1018 (17177 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I agree with Emily. There's no reason to pad your list with schools you wouldn't be interested in, but as Seth's new rankings indicate, there are so many quality programs out there right now, that it would be very risky to apply to only those schools.

And as far as the Stegner goes, this is something most people apply to after they've finished their MFA or PhD, so not only would you be competing with the same applicant pool as you would at the other top schools, but you'd be competing with the graduates of these schools...I think the Stegner recieved (last year) something like 1300 applications for 5 spots...and you have to consider at least 100 of these apps are coming from recent graduates of Michigan, UVA, Iowa, Michener, etc...

Just something to think about...


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


flobelle


Aug 26, 2008, 11:13 AM

Post #123 of 1018 (17169 views)
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     Re: [ejdifili] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I don't want to go to a less competitive school. If I don't get in, then I don't get in.


flobelle


Aug 26, 2008, 11:17 AM

Post #124 of 1018 (17167 views)
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     Re: [HollinsMFAer] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

My professors/advisors told me to consider the Stegner in lieu of an MFA program due to my experience as an undergrad. (I took classes in an MFA program). It's 1400 applicants for ten spots, I think, five in fiction and five in poetry, although the fiction applicant pool is larger than poetry, so I don't know the actual breakdown. I think it's something like fewer than 500 poetry applicants and the rest fiction.


MattElz
Matt Elzweig
e-mail user

Aug 26, 2008, 1:59 PM

Post #125 of 1018 (17124 views)
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     Nonfiction MFA (not memoir) -- CUNY? [In reply to]  

I am seriously considering a nonfiction MFA at one of the CUNYs.

Here's my criteria:

-classes available at night/weekends (I work f/t and can't afford to stop)

-my interest is long-form, narrative book-writing (as opposed to memoir)

Please let me know anything you know about these programs and/or how they compare. Thanks.


ejdifili
Emily

Aug 26, 2008, 2:03 PM

Post #126 of 1018 (20626 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
My professors/advisors told me to consider the Stegner in lieu of an MFA program due to my experience as an undergrad. (I took classes in an MFA program). It's 1400 applicants for ten spots, I think, five in fiction and five in poetry, although the fiction applicant pool is larger than poetry, so I don't know the actual breakdown. I think it's something like fewer than 500 poetry applicants and the rest fiction.



Well, you obviously have a lot of confidence in your work, which is good. Still, you are probably in for the same wake-up call as the rest of us.

If you are only going to apply to that list of *extremely* competitive schools, I would strongly suggest deveoping a "Plan B" in case it doesn't work out. Statistically speaking (as someone else just commented), those schools are extremely difficult to get into, and winning the Stegner right out of undergrad is almost unheard of.


umass76


Aug 26, 2008, 2:34 PM

Post #127 of 1018 (20615 views)
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     Re: [ejdifili] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hi Flobelle,

I can appreciate not wanting to go to a "less competitive" school. That said, there are at least 35 MFA programs in America as hard or harder to get into than Harvard University undergrad, so I'm confident when I say that the list of competitive programs is longer than the list of five schools you've developed. I think we can safely say there are a minimum of 20 MFA programs in the U.S. that are not just "competitive" or "very competitive" but "obscenely competitive." Realistically, anyone who limits themselves to applying to only five of these is likely to find themselves in that "don't get in" category you referenced for many, many years to come. And that's fine if an MFA doesn't actually interest you particularly, but if you really do want to attend one in the next decade or so, it's worth mulling over. Even the most competitive fifty applicants in each genre per year should be applying to a minimum of eight programs--and since there's no way to know one's competitiveness as an applicant (hundreds of writers are lauded, often rightly, by their undergraduate faculty advisers each year), the conventional wisdom of applying to 12 to 18 schools (and on the higher end of that if all the schools are fully-funded, and/or are harder than Harvard to get into) is the best course for all applicants. I believe I was a very strong candidate when I applied to MFA programs, and still I was rejected outright (not even waitlisted) by four of the seven programs to which I applied. In retrospect, it was a huge mistake to apply to only seven programs, and I'm lucky beyond words that it didn't end in total disaster for me. Fortunately, those applying to MFAs in 2008/9 can take advantage of the fact that the conventional wisdom about MFA applications is now better and more widely disseminated than ever before.

As to the Stegner, I'd respectfully (but strongly) advise against anyone applying to it straight from college. The odds are not just long, I fear they're quite nearly non-existent. Maybe it makes sense for a candidate who's already applying to 18 other educational options (i.e. MFAs), but perhaps not even then. And besides, why not try to get the best of both worlds and earn an MFA and a postgrad fellowship like the Stegner? It seems there's no pressing reason to put the cart before the horse here.

Be well,
Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 26, 2008, 2:38 PM)


flobelle


Aug 26, 2008, 5:00 PM

Post #128 of 1018 (20581 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I hear what you're saying. I really do. But I'm not applying straight out of undergrad, I'm not really a traditional student, and I didn't even consider the Stegner until my advisor said I should consider it. The reason for this is because I have taken nearly all the MFA classes available in the program at my undergrad institution, which is one of the schools on my list of possible programs. Coursework and writing wise, my advisor suggested that I in a sense have already done the MFA and should pursue something else instead, like the Stegner. I don't even know if I ought to apply to my "current" program--because they want me to go somewhere else.

I also know two writers who received Stegner fellowships right out of college.

And as for "Plan B?" If I don't get a Stegner or into an MFA program? I'll write.

Also, I don't think that MFA program rejection rates are truly indicative of the competitiveness of the individual programs. I'll take my chances, I guess?? :)


umass76


Aug 26, 2008, 5:28 PM

Post #129 of 1018 (20571 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

F.,

Ultimately, you gotta do whatever feels right to you, of course. I do think acceptance rates (when analyzed comparatively, within the field of CW) are instructive, though. Best,

Seth


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Aug 26, 2008, 6:06 PM

Post #130 of 1018 (20556 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

As it pertains to the discussion, in the past 14 years there have been 4 poets (out of 70) who received a Stegner fellowship straight out of undergrad. Of those 4, 3 had collections already published or in the works. If I had the statistics for fiction writers, I would certainly post them, I don't, but just some food for thought.

As far as your "Plan B" goes, I think Seth is simply trying to let you know that if you do you want to do an MFA, then your list needn't be so limited. Not because you may not be that talented of a writer, but simply because the odds are weighted against you in such a way that even if you are a great writer, you may not earn one of the few spots available. There are at least 25 programs that pay you for two years to write, which it sounds as though you're committed to doing regardless.

It seems as if you already know what you're going to do, which makes me wonder why you posted your list and asked for feedback in the first place. Unless you simply wanted confirmation that those institutions are ultra-competitive. If that's the case, then yes, you're applying to the top-tier writing programs.


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


mchard


Aug 26, 2008, 10:40 PM

Post #131 of 1018 (20504 views)
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     Re: [HollinsMFAer] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I second the previous posts, and especially agree with HollinsMFAer in the case of confirmation. There's not much any of us could say to ease your "being afraid" if you've already chosen the most difficult path. I sincerely wish you well, however.

M.


flobelle


Aug 26, 2008, 11:43 PM

Post #132 of 1018 (20486 views)
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     Re: [mchard] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I think the "fear" I speak of is mostly nerves about the application process, not the outcome. I'm just fretting over things like writing samples and letters of recommendation, and the fact that I've committed to applying at all. But honestly, about the whole Stegner thing: here's a woman, Ammi Keller, who doesn't have a master's degree. And I think that's okay, and that's what I am after. For those of us with experience in graduate programs as undergrads, there is a certain something, and that is: you learn a lot. You wise up to good writing, and you just do it. And that, that writing thing, is what I'm after. And I wrote here, hoping to find others in the same boat. I am a little wowed by the administrative business of it all--I'm not particularly organized and I hate paperwork--maybe someone has something to share about how to keep track of one's applications? I am thinking an excel spreadsheet, but I am not too sure of the right way to set it up. I don't think anyone here can dissuade me from applying to wherever I choose to apply. I am well aware of the statistics. But I do think that my writing is good enough, and I think that having letters of recommendation from people in the "know" can do amazing things to applications. Nepotism works. I've seen it here, in "my" MFA program, and I'm betting dollars to doughnuts that this kind of networking occurs in most, if not all competitive MFA programs.

Ammi's bio:

Ammi Keller grew up in suburban New York. She earned a bachelor's degree in writing and literature at New York University. She was living in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina. Her subsequent travels around the United States influenced her writing. She would like to finish a collection of stories as a Stegner Fellow.


gulfcoasting


Aug 27, 2008, 2:32 AM

Post #133 of 1018 (20460 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Good luck, but I think you're nuts for not applying to more schools.


als02


Aug 27, 2008, 8:43 AM

Post #134 of 1018 (20440 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hey, all. Just thought I'd throw my (as others have said of their own) ever-developing list out there. I applied last year, to no avail, so am trying to re-vamp my strategy (read: apply to different/more sleeper schools). At this point, I'm not ruling out too much, but I'd just like a good mix of schools. Anyway, I'll be applying for fiction, so if anyone has any tips on my list or taking a second crack at the application process, I'd appreciate it! So far, I'm a little South-heavy (where my current "home" and the significant people of my life mostly are), but I don't mind branching out to other regions.

POSSIBLE LIST
UMass Amherst
Iowa
Houston
Johns Hopkins
UNC-G
LSU
Univ. of New Orleans
Univ. of South Carolina
UNH
Arkansas
UNC-W
Bowling Green

OTHER OPTIONS SO FAR
Purdue
Univ. of New Mexico
McNeese
NC State
Oregon

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Oh, and one more question--anyone have thoughts on re-applying to the same schools that rejected me? I don't have any of them on my list, but I wasn't sure if it'd be worth re-applying, or if it was a better strategy to try some new places.


(This post was edited by als02 on Aug 27, 2008, 8:46 AM)


__________



Aug 27, 2008, 11:40 AM

Post #135 of 1018 (20409 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

If you really want to attend those schools, and you're sending an updated writing sample, with all the new things you've learned this year, then why not?

I used to have a list of those who applied two, three, even four times to Iowa. Adam Haslett was one of them, and look at him now...


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Aug 27, 2008, 11:41 AM)


litlifer


Aug 28, 2008, 2:57 PM

Post #136 of 1018 (20295 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I'm new to this thread and the speakeasy, but learning a ton from everyone's insights so thank you to everybody for providing such a fantastic forum.

I'm exploring applying to MFA programs in fiction but given my total lack of publishing and the long distance from my undergrad years, I'm curious to hear opinions on my chances of even getting in to a program. I'm a passionate writer with a strong commitment to improving and have been in numerous workshops but this process - reference letters, the GRE, essays - seems very daunting. Since graduating, I've worked in journalism and television so story isn't unfamiliar but academia sure is.

Any thoughts would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.


zebulon


Aug 28, 2008, 3:25 PM

Post #137 of 1018 (20285 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Holy crap, Seth, you're the man. Thanks for all the helpful information (and indeed from all who have posted in this thread), I'll throw my own hat in the ring here. I am planning on applying for poetry. Like possumholler earlier, I am specifically hopeful to teach creative writing classes specifically. Two schools that I know I'm applying to largely because of this are UNC- Wilmington and Indiana. Funding is also very important, or, at least a few available full funding packages, doesn't have to be full for everyone, I figure if I'm arrogant enough to apply for one of the 4 poetry slots at Cornell, why not set my sights high. At the same time, there's a wild card bonus for larger programs, because I'm applying with another writer to most of the schools, and a larger program seems to have a slightly more likely for us both to get into. Any publication/publishing experience would be great, I've worked on a few lit mags and would like to do it again. I am also (and very importantly) hoping to go to a program that will look good to a future university's hiring committee. Location is slightly important, West coast or southwest, but not the most important factor by any measure. I've been doing research, but it's slow going, and I know there are a ton of programs that I don't know the slightest thing about. Here's my at the moment list:

Cornell
Austin
Iowa
UNC- Wilmington
Indiana
Minnesota
Houston
Montana
Boise State
FSU

a few programs have frequently fluctuated on and off my list, mostly because I don't know much about their program,or perhaps I'm imagining in my head that the progam may not be as "reputable" when it comes to future job hunts (which I think I can shape my list by, as I have perfect faith that all of these programs will provide an excellent learning environment): UCR, UA, USC (MPW- does anyone know if this flies close enough to an MFA to teach writing? This would be my sole fiction app, and their "connections" are what really intrigue me here. I definitely have some long fiction in me), UF, Wichita (I love Goldbarth), Oregon (I like the area), New School, Bowling Green, UV (Viva Hicok!), Michigan... and a dozen others, but I'm trying to keep my application pool to around ten. I also love the idea of Cornell's linked PhD program which I would be applying for, so if any other schools have something similar (and conversely, would going to a school's MFA worsen my chances at getting accepted for their PhD program, writing or otherwise).

Oh, and does anyone know anything about the UCSD program? I know I wasn't impressed with the SDSU funding options, but I'm assuming UCSD will be more experimental... not that I'm averse to experimentation, but it's just not what I'm looking for. Thanks again for providing so much helpful information for us lurkers.


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Aug 28, 2008, 5:58 PM

Post #138 of 1018 (20254 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I'm not sure which school you mean by "UV," but it is my understanding that Bob Hicock teaches at Virginia Tech...looks like a great list, though I'm not sure how much Boise State fits in with the other schools on your list in terms of the name recognition factor. Also, I would say that you might be over-weighing how much where you completed your MFA matters to a hiring committee. PhD, yes, the school matters, but for an MFA, not so much. They will be worried about publications more than anything, regardless if you have a degree with Cornell or Texas written on it. If you don't have a book or significant publications, you're not landing a tenure-track position. That's simply the job market as it stands, flooded with an applicant pool of MFAers all with degrees that they could argue come from "reputable programs." Iowa might be a different story, simply because of the history of that program and the limited knowledge most old-school professors have of the modern MFA landscape (i.e. they might not recognize the leaps a program like UNC-W has taken). I would take that into consideration. Not that you shouldn't respect the prestige of the programs you're applying to, simply that it should weigh far, far, far below funding and faculty on your list. Just something to consider as you finalize your schools. Best of luck!


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com

(This post was edited by HollinsMFAer on Aug 28, 2008, 6:03 PM)


mchard


Aug 28, 2008, 6:09 PM

Post #139 of 1018 (20245 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Just for the record, everyone is guaranteed the opportunity to teach at least 2 sections of creative writing at Purdue (in their particular genre).

M.


dorchester


Aug 28, 2008, 7:30 PM

Post #140 of 1018 (20224 views)
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     Re: [HollinsMFAer] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

 
Hollins MFAer,

Fundamentally, I think we're in agreement, but I'd like to add/clarify a few things for students who are wondering about the "prestige value" of an MFA on the academic job market, as I have spent a lot of time on both ends (both as a search committee interviewer and as an applicant ).

1. Yes, most professors, even professors of creative writing, aren't aware of recent trends in the MFA world. In other words, most won't be aware that programs like UNC Wilmington, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame have made enormous leaps in recent years, so one can't expect that degrees from those schools will have an immediate impact on one's chances, at least not in the near future.

2. Yes, an applicant's record of publication is going to be a much bigger factor than the "prestige value" of that applicant's degree. And yes, the market has become so competitive that a lot of schools basically expect that their top candidates (those invited to campus) will have at least one book.

3. Nevertheless, as you mentioned, Iowa seems to be the exception. The "prestige value" of the Iowa degree seems to carry a lot more weight than any other, which is why so many colleges and universities across the country have Iowa grads on their creative writing faculty, many without books. You can chalk this up to the fame and legacy of the program or whatever, but I can think of at least ten of my former Iowa classmates who were able to secure tenure-track positions without books, although in each case the person had a pretty significant record of publication.

4. There are a handful of other programs that also have a certain "prestige value" associated with them. Cornell, UC Irvine, Michigan, Columbia, John Hopkins, and UVA. Though none of these degrees seem to open as many academic doors as the Iowa degree does, they are all well respected and "known" in most academic circles, and, all else being equal, might certainly give an applicant an edge over her competitors.

Just my two cents . . .


umass76


Aug 28, 2008, 8:47 PM

Post #141 of 1018 (20204 views)
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     Re: [dorchester] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Dorchester,

Some good points, though I can't help but wonder whether the reputation of the schools you mentioned is based on the publishing record of their graduates, or on the USNWR rankings from well over a decade ago. Recently a friend and I were trying to think of the great fiction writers who've come out of Irvine--and we had no problem doing so. Then we tried to do that with Iowa--still no problem. Then we moved on to Columbia and hit a blank. JHU, a blank. And if you're talking poets, it becomes an absolute massacre: UMass @ Amherst has graduated more big-time poets in the last three years than, perhaps, JHU has done in the history of the school. So here's my point: if you look at the schools you mentioned as having some pull with hiring committees, here's what you see in terms of the now-outdated USNWR rankings:

Iowa (#1)
JHU (#2)
Columbia (#4)
Virginia (#4)
Irvine (#6)
Michigan (#6)
Cornell (#10)

So what you're saying is--and I'm not saying you're wrong, so much as that we have to ask why you might be right--hiring committees just coincidentally have the most respect for 7 of the 10 programs which made the top ten in one magazine's rankings more than 12 years ago. Honestly, that just strikes me as hiring committees being out of touch, and wrongly assuming that nothing changes, rankings-wise, over time--even over a dozen years. And those dozen years have been the biggest years of expansion and upheaval in the history of the MFA degree in creative writing.

I guess what I'm saying is, it's going to happen--soon, if not already--that hiring committees say, "let's look at where the best writers are coming from, and/or where the most recent rankings place the different schools out there." And when they do that, programs like Massachusetts are going to really explode in prestige, as will other programs that have made the top 20 in the United States in three straight years of rankings:

Iowa
Michigan
Cornell
Indiana
Massachusetts
Texas
Brown
Montana
Virginia
Oregon
Wilmington
Irvine
JHU
Syracuse
Notre Dame*
Houston*
Washington U.*
Minnesota *
Wisconsin *

* Washington University was 21st in 2007; Wisconsin and Minnesota were 26th in 2007; Notre Dame is 22nd in 2009; Houston is 24th in 2009. In all other years these programs were top 20.

Fudging only a hair, that's nineteen programs that have been in the top 20 for three straight years. That sort of confidence level in the recent rankings--95% agreement--suggests that any hiring committee which only considers six of the above programs (less than a third) prestigious "on their face" is severely out of touch. It's not a huge surprise that hiring committees are a few years behind (as the only rankings done in the 21st century have only been out since January of 2007, or about 18 months), but I don't think it'll be much longer before there's a sea change. In any case, anyone who attends one of the programs above now will undoubtedly, by the time they graduate in 2-3 years, be entering a workforce in which such programs have every bit as much prestige as the schools you mentioned in your post.

Best,
Seth



(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 28, 2008, 8:49 PM)


__________



Aug 28, 2008, 9:46 PM

Post #142 of 1018 (20190 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Columbia spits out a steady slew of interesting, published authors. Just recently I enjoyed The First Hurt, by Rachel Sherman, and Atmospheric Disturbances, by Rivka Galchen. They also have the youngest, and um, maybe 'edgiest', faculty, if that means anything. I don't see how you'd go wrong with Sam Lipsyte, Ben Marcus, and that Russian guy named Gary...

The school rocks, I'm telling you. If they could just move it to some place with grass, or maybe a mini-mall with a movie theater riding shotgun, then you know I'd apply. Until then, I'm stuck with UT Austin.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Aug 28, 2008, 9:54 PM)


__________



Aug 28, 2008, 10:02 PM

Post #143 of 1018 (20177 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

And I agree, it's always tricky to talk about poetry...but I'll have to politely disagree with your assessment of UMass. Those 'big name' poets are kind of misleading; a lot of the UMass crowd are just published and read exclusively by UMass graduates, people with a boner for that kind of anyone-can-do-it, word salad poetry said to demonstrate various esoteric theories popularized by France in the late 70's. It's just a close the door, turn off the lights, circle jerk type of affair. What is the sound of five hands jerking? UMass seems to ask...only to be met with a collective yawn.

Other schools might have less published graduates, but those grads seem to at least have books that are read, win prestigious prizes, etc.

Tricky, tricky, tricky...


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Aug 28, 2008, 10:07 PM)


umass76


Aug 28, 2008, 10:11 PM

Post #144 of 1018 (20171 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

JM,

I dunno, didn't Natasha Trethewey just win the Pulitzer Prize or something? The Amherst scene is a lot bigger than Wave Books.

As to Columbia, I don't mean their grads don't publish--I mean I don't read about what they publish on the New York Times notable books list. And there's a difference.

S.


__________



Aug 28, 2008, 10:14 PM

Post #145 of 1018 (20169 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I could be a couple years out of date with my UMass information.

As for Columbia, though -- nah, I'm certain. I read of Galchen's recently published book in a glowing NYT review, and Sherman was pretty critically praised as well. And that's just the stuff in line with my tastes. I'm sure Clench or someone could chime in with the others.


six five four three two one 0 ->


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Aug 28, 2008, 10:41 PM

Post #146 of 1018 (20160 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

As a way of addressing both of these alumni pools and drawing an annoying promotion of my own program: Kiran Desai, a '99 graduate of Columbia won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Booker Prize. Natasha Trethewey, a UMASS-Amherst grad did in fact win the Pulitzer prize.

Both of them earned M.A.'s from Hollins (before it had switchted to an MFA) before attending their respective programs

All this simply to say that oftentimes this business of programs 'claiming' writers is a bit suspect, as there are so many other factors involved. To say Columbia grads don't write bestsellers or UMASS grads don't win awards seems reductive. About 99% of writers don't write bestsellers or win major awards, the fact that these writers come from certain programs seems much more likely indicative of that individual writers' talent rather than of the quality of the program they attended...all that being said, the better the reputation of the program, theoretically, the better the writers they attract...

I feel like my point was lost somewhere in the act of writing this post...perhaps I've joined the circle jerk...


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


dorchester


Aug 29, 2008, 1:02 AM

Post #147 of 1018 (20125 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

 
Seth,

Thanks for your response. I'm a big admirer of the fine work you do for prospective MFA students, and I almost never find myself in disagreement with anything you have to say, and I don't think we're in disagreement here. I'm simply trying to present an insider's perspective on what I perceive to be the programs that are still held in high regard in the world of academia, whether these opinions are justified or not. Do I think these opinions have been influenced by the 1997 US News & World Report Rankings? Absolutely. Do I think this is fair? Absolutely not. In an ideal world, the professors on hiring committees who make these decisions would be as familiar with the recent trends in the MFA world as you and I, but unfortunately, from my perspective, they're not. Thus, it's going to take a few years before programs like Notre Dame and Wisconsin begin to get recognized in the way they should. Unfortunately, a large number of the professors on hiring committees--many of whom aren't even creative writers--know only a handful of programs, and the programs they know tend to be older programs that solidified their reputations decades ago--programs like Iowa, Johns Hopkins and Columbia (what used to be considered the big three) and beyond that, programs like UC Irvine, Cornell and Michigan. In the 80s, both Hopkins and Columbia produced a lot of big names, and of course no program has produced more big names than Iowa, and unfortunately this is what 40-50 year old creative writing professors heading these search committees remember.

I agree that Columbia isn't churning out the talent it used to and neither is Johns Hopkins. Iowa is probably the only program from that era that continues to produce literary stars, and that will probably continue indefinitely based simply on its ever-growing popularity. In any event, the only point I was trying to make is that prestige does still matter (to an extent) in the world of academia and that applicants should be aware that some of the newer up-and-coming programs might not be as recognized by hiring committees simply because those hiring committees tend to be a few years behind the times. I have no doubt that a degree from Wisconsin will mean something five to ten years from now, but right now it's still a little off the radar.

Finally, I want to be clear that I'm not trying to discourage students from applying to some of newer up-and-coming programs. Those programs have earned a high spot in your own rankings for good reason, and they're all outstanding programs. I'm just trying to say that when it comes to academia--and I hate to be the bearer of bad news--things move at a slower pace. This is not the case everywhere, of course, but generally speaking, I think it is.

Thanks again for your response, Seth. In my opinion, you are doing more for MFA programs than anyone else in the country, and I applaud your hard work and generosity.


umass76


Aug 29, 2008, 1:11 AM

Post #148 of 1018 (20123 views)
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     Re: [dorchester] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hey there Dorchester,

I hope I didn't sound catty there--I promise I wasn't trying to take away from what you said, all of which (as you mentioned) we're in agreement on. Just wanted to use your comments as a jumping-off point, and probably didn't do a great job of it. I totally agree with everything you say, and really appreciated your post, above. I do think it's important for all of us to realize that the work we're doing on MFAs--either by researching them or by helping (through discussions like these) to change the conventional wisdom about them--is still something that'll take a little longer to filter fully into the Academy.

Best wishes,
Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 29, 2008, 1:11 AM)


dorchester


Aug 29, 2008, 1:29 AM

Post #149 of 1018 (20117 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

 
Thanks, Seth. And I think you're right. The best we can do is spread the word. Over time the academy will catch up.

Best wishes,
Dorchester


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 29, 2008, 12:21 PM

Post #150 of 1018 (20069 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Dorchester,

Some good points, though I can't help but wonder whether the reputation of the schools you mentioned is based on the publishing record of their graduates, or on the USNWR rankings from well over a decade ago. Recently a friend and I were trying to think of the great fiction writers who've come out of Irvine--and we had no problem doing so. Then we tried to do that with Iowa--still no problem. Then we moved on to Columbia and hit a blank. JHU, a blank.


I'm afraid this seems more like evidence of personal bias than it does reality. You "hit a blank" thinking of Columbia graduates?

I'm not going to get into a debate over who is a "great" fiction writer, but without even looking it up I can think of a half-dozen popular and acclaimed fiction writers who have come out of Columbia in recent years:

Kiran Desai, Rick Moody, Karen Russell, etc.

Recently I was walking by Barnes and Noble and saw three recent Columbia grad books featured in the window: Keith Gessen, Rivka Galshin, Monica Ferrell.... and maybe Rachel Sherman as well.

Wells Tower new book is certain to get a lot of acclaim.


Columbia grads, as far as I can tell, publish more than any other school not named Iowa. And even Iowa seems to have dipped off a lot lately.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Aug 29, 2008, 12:23 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 29, 2008, 12:44 PM

Post #151 of 1018 (17895 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To

As to Columbia, I don't mean their grads don't publish--I mean I don't read about what they publish on the New York Times notable books list. And there's a difference.

S.


They don't?

Vendala Vida got it last year, Kiren Desai got it the year before that, Benjamin Kunkel the year before that... So there are three in a row off the top of my head. I'm sure one could find many more if they searched through all the old lists.

And in addition to the above, Columbia under the guidance of new faculty like Ben Marcus, Sam Lipsyte, Gary, Shteyngart and so on have been putting out quirkier authors like Wells Tower and Karen Russell who might not be New York Times mainstream, but have been acclaimed and award winning in more interesting circles.

In fact, actually sitting down and thinking about recent MFA graduates, it wouldn't surprise me if Columbia tops the list. Most of the famous Iowa fiction writers I can think of are from the distant past. Adam Hasslet got an Iowa MFA like 10 years ago... but who else?

Anyway, the claim that Columbia does not produce notable or award winning fiction authors is quite silly as anyone who follows contemporary fiction would know.


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 29, 2008, 1:01 PM

Post #152 of 1018 (17884 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Note: Since I can't go back and edit, I confused Keith Gessen and Benjamin Kunkel in my first post. Only Kunkel went to Columbia.


ejdifili
Emily

Aug 29, 2008, 1:04 PM

Post #153 of 1018 (17882 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To

I guess what I'm saying is, it's going to happen--soon, if not already--that hiring committees say, "let's look at where the best writers are coming from, and/or where the most recent rankings place the different schools out there." And when they do that, programs like Massachusetts are going to really explode in prestige, as will other programs that have made the top 20 in the United States in three straight years of rankings:

Iowa
Michigan
Cornell
Indiana
Massachusetts
Texas
Brown
Montana
Virginia
Oregon
Wilmington
Irvine
JHU
Syracuse
Notre Dame*
Houston*
Washington U.*
Minnesota *
Wisconsin *



Seth- do you think the genre-specific ratings have any bearing on this? Because, for example, Wash U-St. Louis tends to be better known for its poetry program than for fiction. Do you think committees do/will consider the perceived prestige of a candidate's particular genre program?


aiyamei

e-mail user

Aug 29, 2008, 2:20 PM

Post #154 of 1018 (17858 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To

As to Columbia, I don't mean their grads don't publish--I mean I don't read about what they publish on the New York Times notable books list. And there's a difference.

S.


Wow, Seth, I'm really flummoxed by why you'd say this. Maybe you have really different reading taste than a lot of people here? But in purely factual terms, as Charles mentioned, every New York Times notable list of the last several years has been heavily laden with Columbia alumni, like it or no.

In less factual terms, I would argue that the books coming out of Columbia recently are getting heavy attention for unusually good reasons -- because they are taking literature, inch by inch, in new directions.

And then also, speaking to the more cynical side of the business, the Columbia kids seem to be grabbing up the coveted spots as most hyped debuts of every season. (Sadly, there only seem to be a couple debut novels per year that lap up the media praise and attention). So I have no idea why you'd suggest the Columbians are somehow less successful. On the contrary, I'd put them ahead of all schools' alumni but Iowa's.

Maybe that's the next branch of your rankings project! -- which schools are turning out the most successful alumni, as measured by indices like NYT notable, etc. I think a lot of people would be really interested.


(This post was edited by aiyamei on Aug 29, 2008, 2:23 PM)


__________



Aug 29, 2008, 3:14 PM

Post #155 of 1018 (17841 views)
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     Re: [aiyamei] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Yeah...I hope no one reads my posts as overly contentious -- and I have no personal stake in Columbia -- but the idea that their grads don't publish good (or well reviewed) books is just factually incorrect. They are right up there with Iowa in terms of output. And as someone else mentioned, their success seems to be on the rise, and not the wane, and their books are (to my mind) less stodgy, and more interesting. Now I've done a lot of research into schools myself, and the thing I've always liked about Columbia is that I've never had to search out tales of alumni success; I've always come to these books 'naturally', in the course of my reading.


six five four three two one 0 ->


dorchester


Aug 29, 2008, 6:05 PM

Post #156 of 1018 (17813 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

  
Since some of these comments are directed toward the exchange I had with Seth, I'd like to say first that I think it was definitely unfair of me to lump Columbia in with Johns Hopkins, as Columbia has continued to produce successful writers in recent years, maybe not at the same rate it did in the 80s, but certainly at a rate that separates it from all but a small handful of other strong programs. This may change over time with the drop in application numbers, but it doesn't seem to have affected the program yet. Personally, I've always felt that one of the bonuses of going to Columbia was its proximity and close connection to the New York publishing world. As one of my close friends who went there said, "It's kind of a risk. You probably increase your chances of publishing a book by going there, but at the same time, if things don't work out, you're going to be stuck with a huge amount of loans."

As for Clench's assertion that Iowa's graduate success has dropped off, I think that's preposterous. Just off the top of my head, I can think of dozens of successful writers just from the time I was there and from the classes ahead of and before mine: Adam Haslett, ZZ Packer, Julie Orringer, Nathan Englander, Brady Udall, Chris Adrien, Kevin Brockmeier, Sarah Sun-lien Bynum, Curtis Sittenfeld, Peter Orner, Yiyun Li, Bret Anthony Johnson, etc., etc. And these were all people who have emerged or graduated in the past five to ten years, which is I think the appropriate amount of time to assess graduate success.

Further, among the people I knew when I was there, or the classes before or a head of mine, I can think of at least 8 Stegner Fellows, 7 Guggenheim Fellows, Finalists for the National Book Award, Pen/Faulkner Award, Pen/Hemingway Award, Los Angeles Times Book Award; several Whiting Award and Rome Winners; winners of almost every major poetry book contest; many, many appearances in Best American Short Stories, O.Henry Awards, and Pushcart Prize Prize anthologies; not to mention The New Yorker, Atlantic, Harper's, etc. Many, many NY Times Notable Books, at least three people on Granta's "20 Best Young Novelists" List (ZZ Packer, Kevin Brockmeier and Yiyun Li) etc . . .

Finally, on top of all of that, if I was estimating very conservatively, I'd say that at least 50% of the people I went to school with have published at least one book (and I'm sure the actual numbers are higher) and many have published multiple books by now.

I'm sorry that I have to even list this stuff--it actually goes against my nature to even bring it up--but when I see unsubstantiated claims being thrown around like this, I feel the need to defend the program.

Best wishes,
Dorchester


(This post was edited by dorchester on Aug 29, 2008, 6:08 PM)


umass76


Aug 29, 2008, 6:41 PM

Post #157 of 1018 (17797 views)
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     Re: [dorchester] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Certainly, my part in the conversation I mentioned having with a friend here about Columbia was focused on the poetry side of things, where Columbia is not faring well of late. This other person is in fiction, so I tended to take their word for the fiction end of things, particularly as I personally don't see any of the names above as being names I'm seeing all over. For instance, Gary Shteyngart would be a great example of a name I do see all over--but he went to Hunter. He simply teaches at Columbia, and I've said for years CU has a great faculty. In fact, FWIW, I've also been raving about Hunter, including its grads, so Gary Shteyngart is probably a way of proving the point, anyway.

I think it's telling that Columbia's defense of its graduate success focuses primarily on who teaches there. It'd be like Iowa emphasizing former/current visiting or permanent faculty Jorie Graham, Rita Dove, Stephen Dobyns, Larry Levis, Galway Kinnell, Donald Justice, Denis Johnson, John Irving, Mark Strand, Philip Levine, Robert Bly, Ethan Canin, Charles Wright, Flannery O'Connor, and Marvin Bell.

Which'd all be bad examples, as they all graduated from here also.
S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 29, 2008, 6:49 PM)


bighark


Aug 29, 2008, 11:03 PM

Post #158 of 1018 (17753 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Jesse Ball, Columbia graduate, won the 2008 Plimpton Prize.


umass76


Aug 29, 2008, 11:17 PM

Post #159 of 1018 (17750 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Jesse Ball is an excellent poet, actually. Good catch.
S.


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 30, 2008, 3:35 AM

Post #160 of 1018 (17722 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I think it's telling that Columbia's defense of its graduate success focuses primarily on who teaches there.



I think it is telling that after being caught spreading bold-faced misinformation, you resort to more misinformation to hide your disproved claims.

You claimed that Columbia did not produce notable graduates (patently false) and then, when challenged, claimed you never read about Columbia alumni in New York Times Notable Books (again, patently false). When challenged again, you claim that "the Columbia defense" is to list its faculty, despite the fact no one has done that.

After your false claim, two unaffiliated posters pointed out the factual inaccuracy and I did as well. I am the only Columbia student posting here and thus the only person whose response you could construe as a "Columbia defense." My post rested entirely on Columbia alumni success. I only mentioned a few teachers in passing to suggest that Columbia has expanded from mainstream fiction and is producing fiction outside of the scope of the NYT, this is, again, in addition to the fact that Columbia alumni frequently appear on the NYT notable book list.

Again, off the top of my head, in recent years Columbia has produced:

Vendala Vida
Kiren Desai
Benjamin Kunkel
Rachel Sherman
Karen Russell
Monica Ferrell
Wells Tower
Rivka Galchen

I am sure someone more interested it combating insults online could create a more complete list.

The above writers have appeared in everywhere from McSweeney's and the Paris Review to the New Yorker and have had their books reviewed in places like the New Yorker or mentioned on the New York Times notable book list and many other awards.

Now that multiple people have challanged and disproven your claims about Columbia, the honest thing for you to do would be to admit you were incorrect or to at least back up your attacks. Where did Columbia's "defense" consist "primarily" of listing its faculty instead of alumni such as the above? What NYT lists are you reading that don't include the Columbia writers listed?


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 30, 2008, 4:08 AM

Post #161 of 1018 (17712 views)
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     Re: [dorchester] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I'm sorry that I have to even list this stuff--it actually goes against my nature to even bring it up--but when I see unsubstantiated claims being thrown around like this, I feel the need to defend the program.


Dorchester,

Although I did say I felt Iowa has had a dip in its alumni success over recent history, I hope it was clear that I think the program has had the highest alumni success ever in the past and still remains a top notch program, probably the best in the nation. The program still produces many notable writers and I would never deny that.

I can sympathize with the above quote. It is disheartening to come to websites and see posters spreading unsubstantiated attacks about programs based on agendas and rivalries. If I contributed to that, I apologize. I don't think there is a need to tear other programs down to feel good about the program you attend. Iowa is a top notch program with great alumni.

Best.
CM


umass76


Aug 30, 2008, 10:41 AM

Post #162 of 1018 (17691 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Clench, I'm going to keep my promise and not argue with you.

Columbia has graduated plenty of fine writers.

S.


__________



Aug 30, 2008, 11:57 AM

Post #163 of 1018 (17674 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Anywho, I believe the original point was how hiring committees perceive things -- tweedy old men a bit fuzzy on their MFA lore. It strikes me that an Ivy League school will always sound impressive. Say if Harvard got James Frey to head a brand new, three hundred student MFA with a 50% acceptance rate, that program would probably give you the edge over Irvine grads.


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Aug 30, 2008, 11:59 AM)


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 30, 2008, 12:40 PM

Post #164 of 1018 (17661 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Anywho, I believe the original point was how hiring committees perceive things -- tweedy old men a bit fuzzy on their MFA lore. It strikes me that an Ivy League school will always sound impressive. Say if Harvard got James Frey to head a brand new, three hundred student MFA with a 50% acceptance rate, that program would probably give you the edge over Irvine grads.


There has only been one official type ranking published since the 97 ones, and it didn't show drastic movement. Most of the other rankings online are based on where applicants should apply and movement is heavily dictated by funding. This is perfectly fine for applicants, but it doesn't necessarily reflect on the strength of a program or the quality of its alumni.

It is prestige and alumni success that hiring committees care about and not location or good TA stipends. Obviously there is some correlation between the two, as presumably the more applications you get the likelier you are to accept good writers and then the likelier you are to have alumni success. Still, by and large the same programs hyped for their alumni a decade ago (Iowa, UCI, Columbia, etc.) are still producing the most and keeping their reputation in that regard.


It also would not surprise me if the current MFA climate only reinforces the prestige of a few top programs, because recent history hasn't really seen a replacement of desirable programs but a disbursement of applicants. Now there are dozens of MFA programs that are desirable and I find it unlikely hiring committees would try to keep track of them all.

Anyway, it is still your publication history that is going to get you a job, not your school... unless it is Iowa maybe.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on Aug 30, 2008, 12:46 PM)


umass76


Aug 30, 2008, 1:13 PM

Post #165 of 1018 (17647 views)
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     Re: [In reply to]  

Putting aside the Columbia issue entirely, I think it's important to trace the history of MFA rankings:

* In 1996, a national news magazine distributed a questionnaire to MFA faculties and asked them to give every school in America a single reputation score. The programs were thus ranked in one area of interest, based on writers filling out a single piece of paper. These rankings were immediately abandoned by the magazine as unreliable.

* In 2007, a single reporter for a national news magazine did "top ten" lists in various areas of interest. He based his lists (and he insisted they were not rankings, explicitly noting, too, that twenty other schools could have easily made his "top ten list") on a handful of interviews with select MFA faculty, many of whom he knew personally beforehand. He also placed his alma mater in the top 10 of MFA programs--for only the second time in its history (previously, it had once placed in a six-way tie for 10th).

* In 2006, 2007, and 2008, hundreds of MFA applicants voluntarily ranked their favorite MFA programs, based on their own research into MFA options, and taking into account every single factor of interest MFA applicants consider, and provided this data to a single individual for compilation. That individual is an attorney, a former journalist, a professional writer, and the author or co-author of two books, one of which is the only reference guide on the market for MFA applicants.

These latter rankings will, in 60 days' time, be published in paperback by a major international publisher.

Can someone explain again why--why in the world--anyone would look at the 1996 single-area "rankings" and 2007 "lists" and consider these more reputable than the rankings we have now?

In fact, by no means is funding the only factor considered in the MFA rankings on TSE. If that were the case, someone would have to explain the following to me:

Columbia (largely unfunded): #4 (USNWR96); #14 (2007); #24 (2008); #43 (2009).
Swing: -39; Difference*: -30 (#4 to #34).

* Between average placement 2008-9 and USNWR96.

NYU (largely unfunded): #6 (USNWR96); #17 (2007); #17 (2008); #27 (2009).
Swing: -21; Difference: -16 (#6 to #22).

Arizona (largely unfunded): #9 (USNWR96); #21 (2007); #31 (2008); #27 (2009)
Swing: -18; Difference: -20 (#9 to #29).

Utah (largely unfunded): #16 (USNWR96); #58 (2007); #82 (2008); #90 (2009).
Swing: -74; Difference: -70 (#16 to #86).

So unfunded programs are dropping, yes, but Columbia's drop is two times greater than NYU's. Same location, same USNWR96 reputation, same stellar faculty, same funding package. Meanwhile, Columbia has held its ground substantially better than Utah, though both programs were top 20 in 1996, and both are largely unfunded. Why? Obviously, Columbia's overall reputation as a University significantly outstrips Utah's (e.g., Columbia is #8 among undergrads, Utah #127, according to USNWR).

So this notion that all unfunded programs are being treated equally by the TSE rankings is wildly inaccurate, as is the idea that all New York City programs are faring equally poorly. They're not. At all.

Best,
Seth

P.S. The above comparisons are actually excessively generous to Columbia, as right now New York University stands at #7 in the forthcoming 2009 P&W Reader Poll, and trending upward, while Columbia is at #19, and trending downward. Again, why this cross-town discrepancy? And why this consistent discrepancy across three years of rankings?


(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 30, 2008, 1:14 PM)


umass76


Aug 30, 2008, 1:33 PM

Post #166 of 1018 (17633 views)
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     Re: [umass76] [In reply to]  

P.S. I actually don't really care about talking about Columbia, here. The point is about how unfunded programs generally are treated by the TSE rankings. For instance, why does NYU fare 25% better than Arizona, though Arizona actually does offer slightly more funding? And why does NYU rank a whopping fifty-four spots better than Utah? Or how about comparing Arizona and Utah (a fifty-spot swing), given that these two schools were only separated by seven spots in 1996? Perhaps Arizona is a better location in the view of most applicants, has a better faculty, a better track record in postgrad awards and publications (as shown by the TSE data on this), and offers more funding than Utah? Perhaps Utah has come to be known more for its CW PhD. than its MFA, so its MFA has received less and less attention, whereas Arizona doesn't offer a CW PhD.? Is it worth noting, in this regard, that Florida State, one of the only other once-highly-ranked MFA programs with a CW PhD., is also seeing its MFA ranking plummet? There is rhyme and reason to this stuff, and it goes way beyond funding or me (or anyone) badmouthing particular programs.


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 30, 2008, 1:43 PM

Post #167 of 1018 (17630 views)
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     Re: [umass76] [In reply to]  

No one claimed funding was the only factor, I suggested that priorities for applicants are different than priorities for hiring committees.

What I am telling you is that as someone who has talked and met with many agents, editors and others in the publishing world, the programs that Dorchester listed (Iowa, Columbia, UVA, UC-Irvine, etc.*) are still the programs that have the cache in that world.

The online applicant world (which in my experience is very different from the applicant pool at large, thus why small surveys online sometimes show drastically different application numbers than the programs themselves claim to get) may well rank programs differently, but that was not the discussion. The question was about hiring committees and what they look for. Applicants and hiring committees look for different things. As I've said, to the degree that hiring committees care about the school you went to, they care about the prestige of the program (history, faculty, etc.) and the alumni success.


*The one change I might note is that Syracuse has gained a lot of reputation recently, likely knocking JHU out of that group. For fiction at least.


__________



Aug 30, 2008, 1:46 PM

Post #168 of 1018 (17628 views)
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     Re: [umass76] [In reply to]  

I'm still with the camp that thinks we could get similar results with tea leaves. Or if that's not a camp, I'm making one, right now.

Not that I don't love you guys for trying, but really. We should add 'statistician' to the above mix. Find some reliable markers of anything (other than perception) an let her run with it.


six five four three two one 0 ->


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 30, 2008, 1:49 PM

Post #169 of 1018 (17626 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I'm still with the camp that thinks we could get similar results with tea leaves. Or if that's not a camp, I'm making one, right now.

Not that I don't love you guys for trying, but really. We should add 'statistician' to the above mix. Find some reliable markers of anything (other than perception) an let her run with it.


Ha, yes, I agree. I gave up on trying to "rank" programs a long time ago.

The only way to get an accurate reading on schools application numbers would be to actual call the schools and ask them for the information.


umass76


Aug 30, 2008, 2:03 PM

Post #170 of 1018 (17621 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] [In reply to]  

Clench,

I agree with you about hiring committees, and I already said that earlier in the conversation--hiring committees don't pay as much attention to rankings as MFA applicants do, and aren't online as much as younger writers are (generally speaking), so they're still working off outdated information as to school reputations. That means that, for a few years more, the schools you and Dorchester mentioned will indeed have the most pull with hiring committees. But it won't be that way for much longer. Eventually, reduced applications and reduced selectivity leads to a weaker cohort, which leads to less postgraduate success and therefore less notice from hiring committees. Also, given that I receive e-mails regularly from MFA programs referencing my blog and the forthcoming Creative Writing MFA Handbook, I don't think it'll be long before universities are aware of the rankings which are so disregarded by some here (1% of the readers here and at Kealey's blog, I estimate).

As to calling the programs to get information, I've only just stopped laughing a moment ago. If you want to try prying information from MFA programs about the details of their funding and their acceptance rates and their applicant-pool sizes and (in some cases) even just their annual class size, feel free. You've got hundreds of hours of largely fruitless work ahead of you. The only thing which is moving us toward transparency in MFA program applications is, ironically, precisely these rankings you don't think so much of. One of the reasons I started doing this was to create accountability. And if my e-mail in-box is any indication, that is--slowly but surely--starting to happen. It's not an accident that an article I've written on MFA funding will appear in the November print edition of Poets & Writers. The TSE rankings, and, to a much greater extent, Kealey's work, has put programs on notice that someone is watching them now, and publications like Poets & Writers are signalling in ways that count that they're willing and interested in joining this effort.

Be well,
Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 30, 2008, 2:05 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 30, 2008, 2:43 PM

Post #171 of 1018 (17607 views)
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     Re: [umass76] [In reply to]  

I think your rankings are probably very helpful to MFA applicants. I think that your surveys are too small and taken from too similar of a source to have any real degree of accuracy, but the rankings themselves are surely helpful and a positive thing for potential applicants.


umass76


Aug 30, 2008, 3:00 PM

Post #172 of 1018 (17600 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] [In reply to]  

Thanks, Charles. I appreciate that.
S.


__________



Aug 30, 2008, 3:08 PM

Post #173 of 1018 (17597 views)
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     Re: [umass76] [In reply to]  

I don't dismiss the rankings entirely...I definitely think they're a step in the right direction. I still think the best thing an applicant can do is just look at all available info (and note that it's often measuring different things) find out what's important to them, and make their own rankings.

It definitely is a joke trying to get information from many programs. But there are schools -- good ones -- that are very helpful, too. For instance, Alabama was just about the friendliest bunch of folks I've ever corresponded with. They gave me application numbers, acceptance rates, funding info, etc. as well as thoughtful, detailed answers to the most arcane and anxious questions I could throw at them. To me, that was very important, and they moved way up my list.

Anyway. I don't think any resource is going to tell you everything. It's ultimately up to the individual to make it all happen.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Aug 30, 2008, 3:09 PM)


umass76


Aug 30, 2008, 4:24 PM

Post #174 of 1018 (17573 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] [In reply to]  

JM,

I think one of the many good things about the rankings is the way they address, really for the first time, schools ranked #10 to #100. We might all be able to agree on ten schools which, at this point, get the most respect from, say, hiring committees. But those schools probably accept a total of 50 people a year, and there are 4,000 people applying. At some point, the other 3,950 applicants are going to stand up and say,

"Okay, Johns Hopkins is great, and Iowa, and Irvine, I get it...but does that mean I just shouldn't go to an MFA program if I can't get into those schools? What if my writing needs some work, so I want time to write but can't get into one of those schools right now? What do I do then...?"

The rankings, if they do nothing else--and I think they do much more--at least give applicants some names to look at, so that Colorado State doesn't mean the same in an aspiring applicant's mind as San Diego State. Because those two programs aren't interchangeable, either in funding or in terms of quality and reputation.

It's really easy to say when a school's #3 in America; how about #33?

Be well,
Seth


Raignn



Sep 2, 2008, 9:54 PM

Post #175 of 1018 (17450 views)
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     Re: [Other Schools] [In reply to]  

This is my plug for Illinois for the newbies.

If you're poetry there are four! poetry faculty (one of them being Brigit Kelly) and only three incoming students a year.
If you're fiction they've got similar stats and Richard Powers (who was nominated for a Pulitzer this last year).
Full funding for everyone, including full tuition remission plus a very nice stipend. Everyone gets the same amount so there is no competition.
You're guaranteed to teach creative writing.
Strong focus on writing.
You can work on the awesome Ninth Letter.

I'm on the poetry side, but I know most of the students here quite well and everyone is very happy. I could not be happier with my decision to go here and would highly recommend people of both genres to at least check out the program.

http://creativewriting.english.uiuc.edu/graduate/about/


writerteacher


Sep 3, 2008, 1:52 PM

Post #176 of 1018 (22350 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Yes, yes, Jesse Ball! He's incredible. His first novel, published in 2007, "Samedi the Deafness," is extraordinary. And one of my favorite stories of last year was that Plimpton Prize winner in the Winter 2007 Paris Review, "The Early Deaths of..."

His novel was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award ($5000 and a reading in Richmond -- not bad). Travis Holland won for "The Archivist's Story" -- another incredible work. Holland went to Michigan.

Just wanted to echo the enthusiasm for Jesse Ball.

WT


vorgefuhl


Sep 3, 2008, 1:55 PM

Post #177 of 1018 (22348 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] [In reply to]  


Quote

You're guaranteed to teach creative writing.


eh what?? when I visited this last march they were going to have me teach either business writing or comp...did they just change this?


Raignn



Sep 3, 2008, 2:39 PM

Post #178 of 1018 (22336 views)
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     Re: [vorgefuhl] [In reply to]  

You don't teach creative writing your first year! (I don't know of any programs that do that). You either teach composition or business writing your first year. Then your second or third year your guaranteed to teach one section of creative writing and you continue to teach comp or BTW or work at the Ninth Letter (although if you're really not interested in teaching there are people doing other things around campus that count so they don't have to teach). Not sure if you're able to get more than one section, I haven't thought to ask.


zebulon


Sep 7, 2008, 5:41 PM

Post #179 of 1018 (22220 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] [In reply to]  

Thank you guys very much for the info about Purdue and IL... another 2 midwest schools... it's like something wants me to return to the snow. Also, Iowa has reaffirmed its spot on my list. Does anyone, by any chance know a) how many funded positions (at least tuition remission) there are, and b) any admissions info about the Lit MA? My wife is thinking of going that route...

And, does anyone know of any other schools that include teaching (a couple semesters if possible) creative writing classes as opposed to just comp or lit classes? Thanks again for all your help.

(and yeah, I mean VT earlier, haha, when I typed that I for some reason just thought Vermont and changed it.)


bighark


Sep 7, 2008, 6:06 PM

Post #180 of 1018 (22209 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] [In reply to]  

The University of Michigan has a very strong creative writing pedagogy component. You'll teach actual creative writing classes, and you won't just be thrown in front of students without any training when you do.

Indiana University is another Midwestern program with a strong teaching component, but you will teach a little bit of comp or lit before creative writing.

Good luck with your applications


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Sep 7, 2008, 6:12 PM

Post #181 of 1018 (22206 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] [In reply to]  

At Hollins, all of the teaching positions are for introductory creative writing. You go through a full semester teaching practicum in spring of your first year and teach one section of intro in both fall and spring of your second.


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


SevenFreckles


Sep 10, 2008, 10:24 PM

Post #182 of 1018 (22058 views)
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     Re: [HollinsMFAer] [In reply to]  

Oh no! My list is out of control. I've tried and tried to narrow it down, but I just can't do it! I'm afraid the one school I decide not to apply to will be the one that would have been the perfect fit (or--eek!--the only one that would have accepted me!!) Now I have this insane list of 18(!!!) schools. I don't know what to do. Any advice is welcome. Please.

Here's my beast of a list:

Alabama
Bowling Green
SUNY Brockport
Cornell
Florida
UGA
UNC Greensboro
Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Iowa
Michener Center
Notre Dame
Oregon
Syracuse
Virginia
Michigan
Minnesota
UNC Wilmington

Then I have a toss up between Houston, Washington U. in St Louis, and Montana. I feel like I need to pick between those three. I hardly should even bother making a choice at this point-- I mean, what's 21 applications instead of 18??

Any advice besides good luck? My biggest priorities are funding, I'd like a longer program, and the chance to teach/work on a lit mag.

The worst part is, I think I could maybe afford it, if I was really good at budgeting between now and December. Oh dear...

Edit: Whoops, that would be for poetry.


(This post was edited by SevenFreckles on Sep 10, 2008, 10:29 PM)


symmetrical


Sep 11, 2008, 8:19 PM

Post #183 of 1018 (21963 views)
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     Re: [SevenFreckles] [In reply to]  

Well, Notre Dame, Bowling Green, and Oregon are all 2 year programs. Iowa and UVA are as well, but I'm assuming (maybe wrongly) that they would be the 2 year programs you'd want to keep based on their reputations/status.
Bowling Green also requires a critical essay as part of the application, so if that's a problem at all it could be another justification for being cut.

How many schools are you hoping to get down to? I'm at 16 or 17 now, for similar reasons - wanting 3 year programs and worried the one I don't apply to will be the one I would have gotten into and loved.


SevenFreckles


Sep 11, 2008, 10:48 PM

Post #184 of 1018 (21938 views)
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     Re: [symmetrical] [In reply to]  

Hmm, well I guess I'd like to get it down to maybe fifteen. But I think I'll just have to suck it up and go with 17 or 18. I was stuck at 24 for a really long time, so if feels like quite an accomplishment to get it down as low as I have.

Also, I did a round of applications in the winter of '07... twelve schools, twelve lovely little rejections. So I'm terrified of a repeat application round. Granted, last time I applied in fiction and this time I decided to focus on poetry... and I feel like I've come a long way in two years. But last time I didn't quite believe it was possible to get rejected from all TWELVE schools, and this time I know it really is. In fact fifteen doesn't seem any safer than twelve.

But I also have weird (sometimes superstitious) attachments to almost every program left on my list. I like Bowling Green mostly because I've taken a workshop there and it's a small, slightly less well known program. Strangely, I have conflicting notes that I've taken about funding. Hmm... one note I wrote down says full funding, the other that only a few people get funding. Anyone know? Gah, that critical essay is a hang up though.

And then Notre Dame is a school I applied to last time. I read on their website that they will waive the application fee one time if you've already paid it. I need to look into that a little bit more carefully, but it sounds like it could be a free shot, so I'll keep it in. Plus that's one of the schools that I have a strange, lucky feeling about.

Oregon is pretty much a location thing for me. I feel like I could be happy there. And I've heard really good things about the program.

I guess the one's I'm really on the fence about are Houston, Washington U. in St Louis, and Montana... particularly the first two. I don't really want to live in a big city... but they are both great programs. And Houston's supposed to be fantastic for poetry, right? Hmm....


germericanqt


Sep 18, 2008, 1:00 AM

Post #185 of 1018 (21796 views)
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     Choices, choices [In reply to]  

I have an awesome spreadsheet which lists, among other things, the following (in order):

School, Program Length (years), TSE ranking, 09 fiction ranking, 08 fiction ranking, the average of the three, admissions rate, application deadline, and application fee. All of these factors (except deadline) help me narrow down at a glance which of my dream schools I should actually apply to. Here are my current top twelve:



University of Notre Dame

2

24

26

19

23

5.20%


Dec. 1 (PM)

$35


UC-Irvine

2

5

12

14

10.3

2.00%


Dec. 1 (PM)

$60


Brown

2

10

6

8

8

2.10%


Dec. 15 (RB)

$70


UNC-Greensboro

2

30

7

25

20.7

4.40%


Jan. 1 (RB)

$45


Syracuse

3

8

13

3

8

4.80%


Jan. 1 (RB)

$75


University of Virginia

2

3

11

4

6

1.70%


Jan. 2 (PM)

$60


Wash U-St. Louis

2

17

35

31

27.7

7.50%


Jan. 2 (RB)

$35


Hollins

2

31

15

25

23.7

7%


Jan. 6 (RB)

$40


University of Oregon

2

13

13

12

12.7

2.40%


Jan. 15 (PM)

$50


Johns Hopkins

2

11

15

11

12.3

3.30%


Jan. 15 (PM)

$75


UT (Michener)

3

1

5

4

3.3

1.50%


Jan. 15 (RB)

$50


University of Alabama

3

34

20

17

23.7

4.00%


Jan. 15 (RB)

$30



The schools which I have thought about and then taken off the list (I've already gone from ten to twelve, it's possible I might add more) are:


NYU

2

13

20

17

16.7

6.50%


Dec. 18 (RB)

$85


Cornell

2

3

3

6

4

1.50%


Dec. 15 (RB)

$70


University of Utah

2

47

95

96

79.3


?
Dec. 15 (RB)

$45


UNLV

3

38

47

53

46


?
Feb. 15 (RB)

$60


Iowa

2

7

1

1

3

3.40%


Jan. 3 (PM)

$60



So. There you are. If anyone wants a copy of my awesome decision spreadsheet, please let me know and I'll e-mail it to you. I'm finding it helpful. Iowa is clearly a good school to apply to, with an incredibly high overall ranking, a relatively high acceptance rate, and a medium-range fee. (I'm talking myself into it again... uh-oh) NYU looks like a great school, with its high rating and high acceptance rate, but the fact that aid isn't available to all makes me hesitate. So these aren't the only factors. But it does help to have the numbers right there like that. Also included on the spreadsheet: how long the manuscript should be (how many pages and/or stories) whether or not they allow novel excerpts, the number of LORs required, whether or not GRE scores are required (at $20 a pop, that can affect finances quite a bit), how many transcripts each school wants (some schools want two), response time for each school (that will come in handy in March and April), and a couple of faculty members for each. Also, location. I'm really hunkering down for this attempt, because the first one really took it out of me.

Oh, I do have a question. I was talking to a good friend about safety schools, you know, as far as that's possible with an MFA program, and he told me Alabama. Based on their acceptance rate (which is actually matriculation rate), that's unrealistic, but he seemed pretty sure of it. Are there any other schools that you might put forward as an awesome program with funding that might be somewhat of a safety school nevertheless? I will pretty much die an agonizing death if I don't get in to a good program this time around. I'm sure of it.


germericanqt


Sep 18, 2008, 1:14 AM

Post #186 of 1018 (21792 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

Sorry for the crappy formatting--it looked great right up until it posted. Then I went back to try and fix it, and spent forever manually positioning the rows, and then clicked "preview post" only to be denied access and see all of my work go down the drain. Oh, posting woes.


bighark


Sep 18, 2008, 8:25 AM

Post #187 of 1018 (21763 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

You could try adding the spreadsheet as an attachment when you post. There's an attachment toolbar on the bottom left of the posting screen.


Dinosaur


Sep 19, 2008, 6:05 PM

Post #188 of 1018 (21660 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

Be careful with the Wash U date on the website. Last year it magically changed from Jan 15 to Jan 2 sometime in late November. I didn't catch it until New Years Eve, and I had to rush to get the app in.


germericanqt


Sep 19, 2008, 7:26 PM

Post #189 of 1018 (21644 views)
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     Re: [Dinosaur] Choices, choices [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Be careful with the Wash U date on the website. Last year it magically changed from Jan 15 to Jan 2 sometime in late November. I didn't catch it until New Years Eve, and I had to rush to get the app in.

I'm actually going to try and have all of the apps finished and mailed by the end of November. Mid-December at the latest (with the exception of the Dec. 1 ones), and that's only if money becomes a squeeze by then, which it shouldn't.


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Sep 24, 2008, 8:35 PM

Post #190 of 1018 (21484 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

I couldn't find a thread that directly relates to this question, so please forgive me if this is a bit off-topic.

If an MFA (or MA) candidate were to receive a prestigious grant for overseas work or study (i.e. Fulbright) during their program, would many institutions allow that student to take a year's leave in order to take advantage of the offer? Or would writing programs look unfavorably on such an interruption in the student's course of study?

Any feedback is welcome.



(edited to correct word omission)


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/

(This post was edited by NickMcRae on Sep 24, 2008, 8:36 PM)


__________



Sep 25, 2008, 5:08 AM

Post #191 of 1018 (21440 views)
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     Re: [NickMcRae] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

Hey Nick:

The schools I've researched all have very specific rules for leaves of absence. It would of course come down to the individual program, but most do seem to allow enough time off for a Fulbright without asking you to reapply.

Plus, schools are schools -- they'll do anything to stake a claim on your genius! Few would pass up the chance to list 'Fulbright winner' on their web site. And I got a big hunch the rules would get way more lax in your scenario.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Sep 25, 2008, 5:10 AM)


Baggott


Sep 26, 2008, 10:35 PM

Post #192 of 1018 (21319 views)
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     Re: [NickMcRae] Choices, choices [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I couldn't find a thread that directly relates to this question, so please forgive me if this is a bit off-topic.

If an MFA (or MA) candidate were to receive a prestigious grant for overseas work or study (i.e. Fulbright) during their program, would many institutions allow that student to take a year's leave in order to take advantage of the offer? Or would writing programs look unfavorably on such an interruption in the student's course of study?

Any feedback is welcome.



(edited to correct word omission)

At Florida State, we encourage our students to apply for such things ... In fact I think there are presentations offered to prep students to apply ... And if one of my students does apply and writes my name as a recommendation, the University sends me special instructions. We take it seriously. Julianna Baggott

Assoc. Prof., CRW, FSU
www.juliannabaggott.com


v1ctorya


Sep 27, 2008, 10:21 AM

Post #193 of 1018 (21287 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

Interesting that your friend thought Alabama was a safe school, as that when I applied in '06, I applied to 6- and Alabama was the only one I got into, off the waiting list. That spot then went to the next person in line as I in the end decided to wait until this year when I grew a bit more to make sure it was what I really wanted to do (it is, but not in Alabama). I think I've heard mention on this board too about people who get into Alabama getting into other programs as well, and turning alabama down, which is maybe why it's a safety net? Because there's a good chance of getting pulled in off the wait list.

This is all anecdotal, so don't take it as gospel.


HappyCianci



Sep 28, 2008, 6:26 PM

Post #194 of 1018 (21198 views)
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     UF Funding [In reply to]  

I'm thinking of adding U of Florida to my list of schools-- Does anyone knows how much the TA positions pay? I know that everyone gets one, which is wonderful, but is it enough to live on?


germericanqt


Sep 29, 2008, 5:35 PM

Post #195 of 1018 (21099 views)
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     Re: [v1ctorya] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

Good anecdote. Thanks. :) That does sound about right. If I get into Alabama and, say, Wash U, I'll probably go for Alabama. But if I get into Alabama and Brown, Syracuse, Hollins, or any of the other schools on my list, I'd probably go for the other school. All the same, if I get into Alabama at all, I will be thrilled. Just getting in would be amazing. There is definitely a cult following out there for Alabama, and knowing what I know about Tuscaloosa, it must be for good reason.


__________



Sep 29, 2008, 6:30 PM

Post #196 of 1018 (21083 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

What do you know about Tuscaloosa?


six five four three two one 0 ->


germericanqt


Sep 29, 2008, 7:31 PM

Post #197 of 1018 (21068 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

You got me. :) From what I hear (on many sides) Tuscaloosa is a pretty miserable place to live. Not much to do in general. I've heard that on these boards as well as from friends who live there/have lived there.


NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Sep 29, 2008, 7:47 PM

Post #198 of 1018 (21061 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

It's all about context. If you're coming from New York City, Tuscaloosa will probably look like a hick town. But if you're coming from Carrollton, GA, for instance, the place might as well be paved with gold.

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/


Mikielg
Mikiel Ghelieh

Oct 1, 2008, 3:19 AM

Post #199 of 1018 (20968 views)
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     Re: [SevenFreckles] [In reply to]  

Sorry don't know how to add a post without replying to someone elses post. Just wanted to give everyone a glipse of my list in no particular order. I'm looking for full funding three year programs. Intrested in any feed back from everyone. I've been lerking a researching programs for three years. I'm applying for poetry. Let me know what everyone thinks. Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Southern Illinois, are my top three schools that I will be for sure applying to. I lived in Syracuse last year with an MFA student and had an insiders view of the program and it is by far the number 1 on my list. At the MFA graduation I spoke at length with Mary Karr, and George Saunders, they are both wonderful. Arthur Flowers in amazing and its a shame that know one knows who he is.

Syracuse University
Virginia Tech
CSU- Fort Collins
New Mexico State University
VCU
University of Indiana
Ole Miss
University of New Hampshire
University of Minnesota
FSU
Bowling Green State University
Southern Illinois University
Georgia College and State University
UGA


symmetrical


Oct 1, 2008, 10:15 AM

Post #200 of 1018 (20943 views)
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     Re: [Mikielg] [In reply to]  

I'm also hoping for a 3 year, fully funded program. If you're looking for more to either add or replace current schools you're not in love with on your list, some more 3 yr, ff schools are Arizona State, UNC-Wilmington, Alabama, Texas, and Florida.


Tabby


e-mail user

Oct 1, 2008, 1:22 PM

Post #201 of 1018 (18055 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

Well, i grew up in t-town, and i was mostly happy to leave. But the writing program is awesome, so much so it almost lured me to go back. it has long history, I used to crash the MFA parties in the eighties, back when writing professors weren't expected to be professionals. Needless to say these parties were awesome. If T-town weren't my hometown with all the baggage, I would have gone for it. There's enough quirky Old South lurking around the corners to make it interesting, and a downtown with old architecture, and lots of feasible road trips. (the Gulf, New Orleans, Nashville). I think there's something about being on the fringe that makes the writing community bond. Everyone I've heard of going there didn't lack for a good time. And people do well from that program. It seems to be one of those mysterious programs that produces writers who publish. Probably because it really focuses on the writing and not the hoopla.


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


riotpoof881
Annie

Oct 1, 2008, 1:29 PM

Post #202 of 1018 (18050 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

Hi,

How do you figure out a school's acceptance rate? I'm looking at Ohio State University's program.


umass76


Oct 1, 2008, 2:46 PM

Post #203 of 1018 (18031 views)
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     Re: Wilmington [In reply to]  

Hi Symmetrical,

Just a quick note about your last comment--I don't think UNC @ Wilmington is fully-funded, you may be thinking of Greensboro, which is semi-officially 75% funded but is rumored by current students to be nearly or actually funded for all. Wilmington I have down as a 35% to 55% funder, probably like 40% in the final accounting (i.e., 40% of students receive full funding).

Best,
Seth

MFA Rankings, Acceptance Rates, and Statistics at: http://www.sethabramson.blogspot.com/

***


symmetrical


Oct 1, 2008, 5:20 PM

Post #204 of 1018 (18002 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Wilmington [In reply to]  

oh right, sorry about that.


germericanqt


Oct 1, 2008, 9:22 PM

Post #205 of 1018 (17960 views)
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     Re: [riotpoof881] Choices, choices [In reply to]  

I got most of my statistics from The Suburban Ecstasies. There is a list of rankings based on acceptance rates for 2007; if a school wasn't listed there I checked the website and googled it and so forth. My University of Utah ranking, for example, is not an actual acceptance rate, but my understanding of my own likelihood to get it (very unofficial, based on what a professor in the program told me.)


Mikielg
Mikiel Ghelieh

Oct 1, 2008, 11:55 PM

Post #206 of 1018 (17940 views)
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     Re: [symmetrical] [In reply to]  

Symmetrical,

Thank you for your imput. Arizona State, UNC-Wilmington, Alabama, Texas, and Florida all looked like they had great programs. Texas has to big of a program as far as I'm concerned, looking for more of a smaller program. Florida is a school I am for sure looking at, but not yet sold on applying. UNC-Wilmington and Alabama are just not the right fit for me as far as I'm concerned. ASU and I have a love hate relationship, I love the Campus and Town, and who amongst us doesn't like beautiful women. ASU is also a consideration I do need a little further research in its funding and program set up. If anyone else has any ideas on programs for poets, three years, with funding please let me know.

mikiel


anjldust


Oct 7, 2008, 11:04 AM

Post #207 of 1018 (17807 views)
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     Re: [In reply to]  

I need tons and tons of help and advice. Please save me, benevolent P&W forum-goers.

Alright, so, I applied last year to 7 schools, crossed my fingers, hoped for the best... and got rejected by every single one. It kinda crushed my dreams and my desire to write, so I avoided even thinking about writing for several months. Now, though, I think I'm ready to start thinking about trying again. I found a local workshop, I'm talking with my former professors, hopefully I learned a bit from last year.

Last year, I applied to the following schools:

Michener
U of Virginia
U of Wisconsin
U of Florida
Washington Univ in St. Louis
U of Michigan
and Georgia College & State Univ.

So, 6 very top-end schools and only 1 "safety". My primary concern was funding, I knew nothing about the faculty (and still don't) and not a whole lot about contemporary literature in general. I sent out two pieces which were apparently very experimental (I'd say one definitely was, though I'm not 100% convinced the other is.)

Since that time, I've discovered my writing is generally experimental, and it also tends to be what I enjoy reading. I have been trying to brush up on contemporary literature a bit, reading through the 2008 O. Henry and Pushcart prize anthologies. All it's done for me to date, though, is emphasize to me that experimental fiction is my genre of choice.

So, all that said, I suppose my primary concerns this year are "well-funded" and "experimental-friendly" schools, as I'm a poor guy from the Nashville suburbs. (It also limits the number of schools I can apply to, damned app fees.) I've been wanting to read Tom Kealey's MFA Handbook, but I decided to go ahead and preorder the new edition, which is apparently still not released. (His publisher gives a pub date of 10/1/08, but Amazon still just says "Oct. 2008". Maybe if Seth sees this he might know a bit more about when it should be available for us last minute types?) I very much hope it will give me some more help, but until that time, I've turned to the Speakeasy.

When I was applying last year, I came across a blog entry by Steve Tomasula (Director of Notre Dame's MFA program) about experimental programs, including his own. It's a nice little list, and the comments are helpful, too. (Link's available here.) I know from looking last year that ND's funding is pretty nice, so I think they've got a definite spot on my list. Brown is also on his list, and I doubt I can afford that. I intend to look further into U of Colorado, Boulder, U of Utah, U of Alabama, and Florida State soon. I also need to look into the ones suggested by Lance Olsen, director of U of Utah's program, in the comments. I'm looking for other suggestions from this community as well. Perhaps some of you have got some good suggestions?


twoheadedboy


Oct 7, 2008, 1:18 PM

Post #208 of 1018 (17772 views)
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     Re: [anjldust] Re: [In reply to]  

Brown was on the Atlantic Monthly's list of "well-funded programs". I think everyone there gets a tuition fellowship and stipend.


anjldust


Oct 7, 2008, 1:22 PM

Post #209 of 1018 (17770 views)
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     Re: [imariel] Re: [In reply to]  

Wow, I thought I'd read that it was super expensive, being Ivy League and such. I guess that tends to apply more to programs other than their MFA. Thanks for that, it makes it a much more attractive school to me. :-D


rppohl


Oct 7, 2008, 7:44 PM

Post #210 of 1018 (17722 views)
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     Re: [anjldust] Re: [In reply to]  

Check out Illinois State University. They offer a Masters, not a MFA, in creative writing. I've heard that they're very accepting of experimental writing. They also offer assistantships, but I don't know the details.


als02


Oct 17, 2008, 1:50 AM

Post #211 of 1018 (17551 views)
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     Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

This is my second year applying for MFA Programs, and last year my list was a little top-heavy. I think I've finally gotten my list down to something suitable but am having trouble filling in the spots (I'm planning on applying to 12 schools) with my remaining "maybes" (and I'm also willing to drop/swap some in the top half, too, if it becomes prudent to do so). Any advice? I'm applying for fiction.

My I-think-so's...

UMass Amherst
Houston
Johns Hopkins
UNCG
Arizona State
Arkansas
Purdue
Rutgers
Univ. of New Orleans
Univ. of South Carolina

My maybes
UNH
UNM
Wash U St. Louis
Iowa
UMass Boston

I am concerned about funding, would prefer to teach (but could do without if necessary), am pretty flexible on location, but definitely want a more balanced list this year... Thoughts?


umass76


Oct 17, 2008, 2:24 AM

Post #212 of 1018 (17545 views)
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     Re: [als02] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Hi there,

If you're concerned about funding, I'd rank your prospective additional schools as follows:

1t. University of Iowa
1t. Washington University
3t. University of New Hampshire
3t. University of New Mexico
5. University of Massachusetts at Boston

So, if you're adding two, go with WUSTL and Iowa. If you're worried about keeping your list balanced acceptance rate-wise, go with WUSTL and...well, in fiction I don't necessarily love your remaining options. I'd propose one of Penn State, University of Florida, Louisisna State University, George Mason University, or University of Alabama (hardest to "easiest" admit: Alabama, Florida, Penn State/George Mason, LSU).

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Oct 17, 2008, 2:25 AM)


als02


Oct 17, 2008, 2:34 AM

Post #213 of 1018 (17542 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Yeah, I was thinking about some of those additional schools you mentioned earlier and don't mind going back to it. Does the non-maybe list look decent enough?

I was also thinking of Oregon (I've come down from a list of about 20), but in general, I'm really having trouble generating a final list this year. I think I'm second-guessing myself too much after having been rejected from all 12 schools last year (UNCG, Alabama, UofFlorida, NYU, UC Irvine, Austin, UofIllinois, Michigan, Indiana, UNLV, Minnesota, and UVA)--wanting to get that "perfect list." I know one doesn't exist, but I wouldn't mind it.

Ha, I also wouldn't mind being able to afford whatever school I might get into. :-)


umass76


Oct 17, 2008, 3:42 AM

Post #214 of 1018 (17533 views)
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     Re: [als02] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

The non-maybe list looks good, though I could see, in fiction, replacing New Orleans and South Carolina (particularly the latter) with two of University of Memphis, University of Idaho, Boise State University, or Texas State at San Marcos (preferably the first and last of these, though Idaho is a notable and decent option as well).

Best,
Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Oct 17, 2008, 3:44 AM)


umass76


Oct 17, 2008, 11:58 AM

Post #215 of 1018 (17497 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  



Als02 (and others),

In the event this is helpful to anyone: http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/...mfa-programs-to.html ("How to Draft a List of MFA Programs to Apply To," from the MFA Blog)

Cheers,
Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Oct 17, 2008, 12:00 PM)


flobelle


Oct 17, 2008, 12:13 PM

Post #216 of 1018 (17486 views)
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     Re: [als02] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

After reading all these crazy lists of people applying to schools, I'm going to apply to even fewer schools than were originally on my list. I think there comes a point where applying to xyz schools is too many.

I feel like you end up spreading your applications too thin, in a sense. Say you apply to one school and you know what they want and spend additional time fixing your application so that way you appeal to what they want. You talk to current students, or take a class at the school in the program you're looking to get into...whatever. If you know where you want to go, why not apply there?

I say this because I know a lot of people who have gone to top ranked MFA programs having only applied to one or two schools. I wonder if less is more. Any thoughts?


umass76


Oct 17, 2008, 12:51 PM

Post #217 of 1018 (17475 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Hi Flobelle,

Honestly, there is no way to know "what they want"--I think you can visit a school, talk to its current students and its graduates, even sit in on a workshop (should they allow it), and you'd still not know "what they want." This isn't a science, but (in many ways) a crapshoot, so I worry that thinking the system can be gamed/predicted will lead folks to huge disappointments down the line. Frankly, even if it were possible to know "what they want," and to "fix your application" to meet the program's perceived needs/desires, it wouldn't change the fact that the acceptance rate at the average hypothetical target school is likely less than 5%--which means there are doubtless others who are a better fit for "what they want," especially as we can't really, in the end, "fix our application" beyond the level of our talents and the scope of our aesthetics.

For every story of a person who applied (foolishly) to two schools and got into one or both, I promise you there are ten or more stories of those who applied to ten to twelve schools and got into none.

I strongly advise against believing that, when you're applying to programs harder to get into than Harvard Medical School (as all the top MFA programs are), it's the case that you can somehow focus your attention enough on a particular application to dramatically increase your odds. The bottom line is, if they like your work more than 99 out of every 100 applicants, they'll accept you; if not, they won't, no matter how much you think you gave them "what they want."

In this instance, in this context, less is definitely not more. Trust me; I spend more time talking to and communicating via e-mail with current and past MFA applicants than just about anyone (I have to, or else all these freelance essays and ongoing rankings would be impossible to do with any degree of reliability or accuracy).

Best,
Seth


bighark


Oct 17, 2008, 2:58 PM

Post #218 of 1018 (17456 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Flobelle,

Seth is right. Less is not more when it comes to your MFA applications. Also, I'd caution you against holding onto this idea that you can somehow divine what a particular program wants in applicant. You can't.

You're applying to creative writing programs. Decisions will be made on the promise of your fiction or poetry. I can't think of a more nebulous criteria for admission, can you?

Even if you could get a bead of what a school has done in the past, you don't know what they'll do for your application class. Admissions committees change from year to year, and the committee that admitted the Full Ride University cohort for 2010 may not be the one that makes decisions for 2011.

Anyway, there's never a type or style of writing that will impress a reader more than quality writing. The best strategy for applying to MFA programs is to send your best work. Don't send a farm animal story because you think a program digs farm animal stories. Send your best work.


Raysen


Oct 17, 2008, 3:53 PM

Post #219 of 1018 (17440 views)
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     Re: Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

And even if by some divine miracle that you were able to discover what the Admissions people are looking for, so did other applicants. I'm guessing that of the hundreds (thousands in Iowa's case) of applicants, at least fifty or so have been able to tailor their application and writing samples to the "wants" of the Admissions people. But there are only 4-12 seats available! The numbers are against you. The competition is stiff! And ultimately, it really is a roll of the dice.

So, good luck everyone!


Raysen


Oct 17, 2008, 3:54 PM

Post #220 of 1018 (17439 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Don't send a farm animal story because you think a program digs farm animal stories. Send your best work.


...unless your best work is a farm animal story.


flobelle


Oct 17, 2008, 5:34 PM

Post #221 of 1018 (17418 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

That's not what I mean. als02 here wrote what s/he deems "experimental" and didn't even consider Brown or Illinois State in the first round and instead picked a lot of very traditional, literary-narrative kinds of programs. (hello, Michigan??)

Maybe what s/he wrote was not up to par, period, but I feel like doing more research and focusing on a few schools that have what you want is better than applying blindly, which is what a lot of these lists are looking like these days.

Also, maybe applying to 12 schools wasn't a good idea. Maybe it'd be better to apply to no schools.


umass76


Oct 17, 2008, 9:27 PM

Post #222 of 1018 (17387 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Hi Flobelle,

It sounds like, despite asking the question, you've already pretty much made up your mind on this topic. Which is fine, but you should realize that Illinois State is an M.A., not an M.F.A., and Brown is both a) one of the top five hardest programs to get into in the United States, and b) not one of the twenty programs in the U.S. fully funded for all students for both years. Plus it's a two-year program, and many applicants are interested in the several dozen three-year programs out there.

Anyone who makes their admissions decision primarily based on the perceived aesthetics of a program--in an environment in which, if the school admits you in the first place, they're already indicating a welcoming attitude to your aesthetics--is making a huge and costly mistake. I think you should realize that a lot more thought has gone into the current conventional wisdom about MFA programs than you're acknowledging. I think if you spend a few months reading around the major websites on MFAs you'll see what I mean. No one's going into this half-assed, if that's your concern. The best advice continues to be to apply to 12 to 15 programs, and to place "perceived aesthetic bias" (a largely speculative category of assessment) into its proper place in the decision-making tree--an unprivileged one. Best of luck,

Seth

P.S. I gave you a link, above, to an MFA program assessment tool advising consideration of approximately thirty factors in deciding which programs to apply to. Your response said that the advice here, and that the trend here, was/is to "apply blindly." That sort of tells me that you're asking a question but not taking a lot of time to listen to the answer--perhaps because you feel you already know it.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Oct 17, 2008, 9:31 PM)


flobelle


Oct 17, 2008, 10:26 PM

Post #223 of 1018 (17372 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

I think there are others, like me, who do not believe in applying to a zillion programs. I posted because I was curious to find those people on this board.

I think that you do some people a disservice by saying they should apply to 12-15 programs. If you have to apply to that many programs, maybe the MFA degree isn't the right thing to do. If you have to apply to that many schools, you should consider something else! It's expensive to apply--where is this ridiculous sum coming from?

I don't see how someone could apply your list of thirty traits and come up with 12-15 programs.


writerteacher


Oct 17, 2008, 11:24 PM

Post #224 of 1018 (17367 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
...and instead picked a lot of very traditional, literary-narrative kinds of programs. (hello, Michigan??)


(flobelle, this is not directed *at you*, just some thoughts brought about by what you wrote above in the context of the larger discussion.)

In my experience, it's not useful to tag an entire program as literary-narrative, experimental, post-modern, traditional, whatever. The reason is partly that programs comprise faculty with individual sensibilities, interests, tastes and literary styles. But a bigger factor is that the students have individual sensibilities, interests, tastes and literary styles.

I'm in my second year of a three-year residential program that admits between four and eight fiction students each year. At any given time, then, there are twelve to twenty-four fiction students coming through. There is no discernible commonality of style, voice, subject, or fictive approach. Workshop, regardless of which faculty member leads it, is about responding to what's on the page -- not an attempt to guide the work toward a particular aesthetic dictated by the instructor. It's about figuring out how fiction works in *this* piece, and how to help *this* piece achieve what the student is trying to achieve. One of my instructors is attentive to structure and mechanics, another to narrative dynamic and characterization, still another to voice, language and tone. No one gives a shit about what kind of story I'm writing apart from helping me write it well.

I think it's a common concern, but a mistaken one, to worry as you're applying that your work might not "fit." Unless a program comes out and declares that it discourages anything but narrative realism or, I don't know, magical realism or experimentalism, etc. -- and I've never seen such a designation -- I think it's safe to assume that the faculty will support whatever style the student is interested in writing, as long as the writing itself (sing along) shows promise.

That's not to say that there are no programs with outstanding faculty specializing in particular forms -- just that one faculty member does not an entire program make, especially considering the spectrum of student work.

This is a numbers game. It makes more sense to cast a wide net than to try to beat the house with a single hand, (to mix a few metaphors). You give yourself more control, in the long run, if you frontload your odds and get an acceptance or two or three (at which point you can get selective). You can't decline to dance if you haven't been asked.

Good luck, everyone --
WT


flobelle


Oct 18, 2008, 12:01 AM

Post #225 of 1018 (17353 views)
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     Re: [writerteacher] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

I'd be interested to know how many programs you applied to, and where you ended up.

If it's a numbers game, is this a way of saying you didn't get into your first choice school? And if you did, then what does that mean? You get into your first choice school, and then think about all the money you wasted applying everywhere else.

Hmm.


bighark


Oct 18, 2008, 12:03 AM

Post #226 of 1018 (19768 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Flobelle,

That's rude. You're being rude.

You can forget about the rest of my private message. I'm done helping you.


unsaid78


Oct 18, 2008, 12:16 AM

Post #227 of 1018 (19761 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

The logic behind applying to around 12 schools (in my case probably more like 17 after 2 years of researching schools and reading both this message board and Seth's blog obsessively) is really simple. A majority of the schools accept between like 3-10 people per genre (correct me if I'm wrong anyone). So I may not be one of the 3 chosen at 1 school so I'll apply to as many schools as I can in the hopes that I'll be one of the best applicants at one of them. I have full confidence in my writing sample but I also have confidence in the samples of other qualified applicants. To do what I want to do I need an MFA and I want it now! lol

I said all this to say--I'm not an idiot.

I hope this helps your understanding. Good luck!


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


flobelle


Oct 18, 2008, 12:31 AM

Post #228 of 1018 (19752 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

How many schools did you apply to? I'm guessing fewer than 12-15. Maybe 4-6, which is what people used to do, it seems, until everybody wanted to be a writer.

I guess what I'm saying is the application pool is a little cloudy. There are a lot of people applying, but I don't know if the work of other applicants is as good as everybody thinks it is. If that were true and people were that good, my friends, who attend schools like Iowa or Michigan or Wisconsin or Alabama or Irvine wouldn't have been able to beat the odds and only apply to one or two schools and get in.

I also read fiction submissions for a competitive, well-known literary magazine, and let me tell you, most of the stuff we get is crap, and (I've said this on another forum here) much of it by people with 2nd or 3rd tier MFAs, although some of it is by people with "top" tier MFAs too.


SaundraN


Oct 18, 2008, 2:45 AM

Post #229 of 1018 (19723 views)
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     The List [In reply to]  

I'm just getting started with "The List." I am applying to MFA programs in poetry. Any suggestions for -- great programs with great funding with a nurturing atmosphere?

Thanks,
Sandy


writerteacher


Oct 18, 2008, 9:22 AM

Post #230 of 1018 (19706 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Well then, by all means, apply to a school or two.

Good luck.


Raysen


Oct 18, 2008, 1:11 PM

Post #231 of 1018 (19676 views)
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     Re:Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

I hope everyone follows flobelle's advice. That's less competition for me! Woo Hoo!


jamx85
James

Oct 18, 2008, 2:03 PM

Post #232 of 1018 (19667 views)
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     Re: [SaundraN] The List [In reply to]  

Though I'm from the fiction side of things, you might consider my program, Purdue. The funding is good and the professors are definitely nurturing.


James
Fiction Editor
Sycamore Review


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Oct 18, 2008, 2:37 PM

Post #233 of 1018 (19649 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Apply to as many programs as your pocketbook will allow, Flobelle. 12-15 is a lot. But the problem is, and maybe I'm just reiterating what others have already said in this thread, your chances of getting into your top choice is incredibly slim. Unless, of course, your top choice is Northern Michigan, or some other obscure program that doesn't get a shitload of applications each year (FYI: NMU gets about 40 apps across three genres, but only admits like 6 people, across three genres, so even though the number of apps is relatively small, the chance of getting in is similarly competitive to other schools.)
Take me, for instance. My top choice was Madison. Three years ago they received 120 applications for 6 spots (fiction). I liked my chances with those numbers. Pretty much I needed to be better than every 20 writers, which I was confident enough attempting. The number of applications jumped in the span of two years from 120 to almost 400, and needless to say, I wasn't admitted. If I had only applied to Madison I would have been screwed. You simply can't predict the dramatic influx of new applicants to these MFA programs.
I also applied to Michigan, Iowa, Notre Dame, Purdue, Southern Illinois and N. Michigan, all based on funding and geographical location. I was lucky to get into SIU and N. Michigan (MA in CW) by the skin of my teeth. This whole process is about modesty. I'm guessing most of us come from undergraduate programs where profs kissed our asses, told us we could weave a hell of a story, and that we should apply to any program our little heart desires. Problem is there are thousands of us out there, more, and we're growing. Each year this "crapshoot" of an app process becomes more and more convoluted, more and more difficult to succeed at. Do yourself a favor and apply to as many programs as you're able, lowering your standards, maybe, and preparing yourself for the absolute worst. You won't be doing yourself any favors by whittling down your list based on the principle that "hey, if I apply to Iowa and get in, why the hell did I apply to Southern and Purdue and Bowling Green?" Because everyone and their mom is applying to Iowa and they're probably applying to the other schools, too. You just never know.

Have fun!

Rick


als02


Oct 18, 2008, 3:04 PM

Post #234 of 1018 (19645 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Well, I just accidentally erased the post I was posting, so this might be shorter/not as well written as it was originally. Oops.

1) Flobelle, just FYI, I think you got me (als02) mixed up with anjldust in an earlier post (the one I'm replying to). I'm not an experimental writer and am applying to traditional, literary-narrative schools (and did first round, aka Michigan) because... well, I'm not an experimental writer. And I don't think anjldust (who said s/he discovered s/he probably is an experimental writer) wrote which schools s/he'd be applying to this time around (after s/he discovered the experimental nature of his/her work).

2) That aside, I know several writers who didn't get into what you might deem top-tier schools and have ended up with very successful careers. I've also heard many stories about writers who applied to 12 schools, got rejected from "lower-tier" schools only to be accepted in some of the number one schools. Kind of a conundrum, if you ask me. I mean, if they're fantastic writers, why didn't they get accepted to all the schools they applied to? Or, if a writer is very successful now but didn't go to Iowa or Columbia or whichever schools you might deem the best, why didn't they get into their first-choice school before? I don't think the school you get into makes you a successful writer, nor do I think someone should judge their potential as a writer based on the MFA program they get into. And I also believe that just because you don't get into the school you want doesn't mean you're horrible and should find a new passion or career path. I think you could still be a good writer and not get into Iowa. Maybe I'm saying this because of the 12 rejection letters I got last spring, but it's not so much self-defense as it is statistics.

For example, if a school has 300 applicants and accepts ten, an applicant might not be thrown out with the bath water (aka the 250 the professors/readers throw out after reading the first page and deem as having no talent). They might even make the cut, with other "good" writers, to the top 15, 25, 50--whatever. In fact, they might even be #11. Could even be on the waiting list! But competition's stiff. However, if that writer says, "Man, I got rejected. That must mean I suck. I should quit while I'm ahead," well, I think that'd be to bad. I mean, I was in charge of hiring employees before, and when you get a bunch of good applicants and good interviews, it really can be tough to make the final call. Doesn't mean you think the one you didn't hire is horrible and should sweep streets or something. Just means they didn't get the job (for any number of reasons) but could be just as successful after another year of resume building or if they seek a similar position at a different firm/business/office/etc.

I think it's also important to remember what field we're in. Maybe you don't get rejections, and maybe your friends don't get rejections, but I think most writers (again, even now successful ones) suffer through their fair share of rejections. Any artist does. But if all writers threw in the towel and threw up their hands when they got rejected from an agent, magazine, or whatever, we might be missing some good writers today. So, I don't really agree with your logic. As with any subject within the arts--music, visual arts, theater, dance-- the writing field is competitive and subjective, whether it's applying for MFAs or trying to get that book published.


(This post was edited by als02 on Oct 18, 2008, 3:07 PM)


flobelle


Oct 18, 2008, 6:28 PM

Post #235 of 1018 (19602 views)
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     Re: [richardkae] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

I didn't come from a program where I got my ass kissed.

I came from a program where I worked my ass off and weaseled my way into MFA coursework to get recognized.

I have a friend who is in the MFA in CW program at Northern Michigan. I was not aware that it was a competitive program at all, especially given what I've seen of his work.


Raignn



Oct 19, 2008, 10:21 AM

Post #236 of 1018 (19527 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

For those applying to Midwest schools, don't forget about University of Illinois -- fully funded and they have Richard Powers (fiction) and Brigit Kelly (poetry, who just won the Academy of American Poets Fellowship).

Anyone interested in info on Illinois, Purdue, Western Michigan, IU, Pittsburgh, or Ohio State, just send me a PM (first semester of grad school = busy).

And good luck whittling down your lists!


writerteacher


Oct 19, 2008, 1:21 PM

Post #237 of 1018 (19503 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I have a friend who is in the MFA in CW program at Northern Michigan. I was not aware that it was a competitive program at all, especially given what I've seen of his work.


Flobelle:

You continue to be unapologetically rude to people who are trying in good faith to help you by generously answering your questions.

Your post above is a bald insult to a person who just told you, by way of trying to help you, that he got in to NM "by the skin of [his] teeth," not to mention a slam against your "friend" at NM.

As Rick said, this whole process is about modesty. I'd add to that: humility. You haven't even said thank you to Seth, Rick, Bighark, Als02, and all the others who've taken the time to write thoughtful answers to your rhetorical question.

You've posted in another thread that your reading for a publication reveals that a large amount of what you describe as crap submissions come from MFAers.

I don't really care about your answer to this question, but it seems to me it's essential for you to answer it for yourself: Why are you pursuing an MFA if you have such contempt for the programs, the students, and the perceived ill effect on the "product"?

I'm with Bighark; done.


flobelle


Oct 19, 2008, 1:56 PM

Post #238 of 1018 (19497 views)
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     Re: [writerteacher] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

I don't think that many of the posters on this board are actually representative of MFA students from the programs I'm interested in.

My friend knows he couldn't apply to some of the other more competitive programs at the he was looking to apply and really liked N. Michigan.

I'm doing it to have a couple years to write, like most people.


loaf

e-mail user

Oct 19, 2008, 4:31 PM

Post #239 of 1018 (19455 views)
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     Re: [gcsumfa] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Just wanted to say good luck to y'all and offer myself as a source of information for FSU. I'm currently finishing my MFA there in Poetry and I'm happy to answer any questions about the town, the program, the people.

You can ask me here or email me at ms.loaf@gmail.com, which is more likely to get a speedy response.

When I applied a few years ago, I applied to 10 programs, got into two (FSU and Columbia) with funding, wait-listed at two (Sarah Lawrence & Houston) and rejected at the rest. I'm applying to PhD programs now, so I'm back in the thick of the scary applications.


owenj


Oct 19, 2008, 6:06 PM

Post #240 of 1018 (19431 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

If I'm reading Flobelle correctly, I think he/she may have a point, although I don't agree completely with it. If your writing isn't up to snuff, it doesn't make that much of a difference whether you apply to 4-6 schools or 12-15, especially if you're settling on a 'safety' program. I mean that if you apply to 8 top schools and 4 sub-par programs, and you get into one of the sub-par programs, you might not be ready for an MFA, or an MFA might not make sense for you just yet, in that some of the lesser known programs are going to have drawn from a less talented pool of writers. So, if you're good enough (or lucky enough) to get into a top school, what's the point of applying to 15 schools? But, if you're not good enough to get into one of the top programs, what's the point of going? I think there's some truth in this: the MFA situation feels a little out of hand to me in that they are cropping up everywhere, maybe because there's a huge demand for them, so my instinct is to think that they've become a little predatory in that there is a suggestion that an MFA is somehow a ticket to something when for 95% of the people in them, it's not. But, on the other hand, the only reason to get an MFA is to work on your writing, so from that perspective, it really doesnt matter where you go, or if you go at all, as long as you find time to write.

As for applying, Flobelle, I would disagree with you from personal experience. First, there are quite a few more than 4-6 schools worth going to, and my experience having been through two of them (I'm working on a PhD) and knowing people from another dozen programs is that despite rumors of aesthetics at a particular school, it's rarely the case. I'm also skeptical of anybody who puts themselves into the bucket of 'experimental' writer as there's a ton of latitude for what consitutes experimental (this from somebody who is experimental, and also skeptical of himself) so for one writer, this has a completely different definition than the next, so you can't always count on a school jiving with your definition.

When I applied I was applying to both MFA and PhD progams (I have a rare creative MA) - I applied to ten MFA programs and three PhD programs. My experience was that the schools I got into were random - I got into a few 'top' programs and didn't get into a few 'safety' schools. I got into all the PhD programs I applied to, so there's some evidence that you should be selective about where you're applying, but also some evidence that you should go broad. So I think I come out on the majority opininion on this - apply to as many schools as you can afford to apply to.


Yugao


Oct 19, 2008, 7:07 PM

Post #241 of 1018 (19396 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I think that you do some people a disservice by saying they should apply to 12-15 programs. If you have to apply to that many programs, maybe the MFA degree isn't the right thing to do. If you have to apply to that many schools, you should consider something else!

I applied to thirteen schools, and I am now attending the most selective school on my application list. It's one of the few I got into. Perhaps your advice would apply to law school applicants. MFA program admissions are far more unpredictable.


flobelle


Oct 19, 2008, 8:13 PM

Post #242 of 1018 (19368 views)
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     Re: [Yugao] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Don't you feel you wasted your money applying to lesser-ranked schools?
I'm not saying this is for everybody, but....

It seems a lot of people on this board apply to a ton of schools. Some people get into a top school off this list of schools, and others don't get into any programs at all.

It would seem that those applying to top programs that get in would get in whether they apply to 4 top programs or 40 top programs. It would seem that those applying to a mix of schools and not getting into any would be just as easily served by being rejected by fewer schools (meaning they should apply to fewer programs or no programs and just save the money they're wasting in applying at all).

Either way, those ready for an MFA program and those not ready for an MFA program should be applying to fewer schools in my mind.


umass76


Oct 19, 2008, 8:40 PM

Post #243 of 1018 (19356 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Flobelle,

I don't know how to say this any nicer, or any clearer, so: you're wrong. You're wrong and you're speaking from ignorance and youth.

I'm a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. I was offered a book deal for my first collection the night of my very first workshop here in Iowa City in August of 2007. I've published my work more than 150 times in print magazines and anthologies, including many of the top litmags in my field. Two of the three programs that accepted me in 2007 (incidentally, Iowa was not one of them) informed me that I was their top choice from that year's entire applicant pool. At one of those two programs I was awarded a University-issued non-teaching fellowship (i.e., one given by the University as a whole, with only a single such fellowship available to the MFA program).

Yay for me. Now here's some other information:

Applied to Virginia: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Cornell: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Brown: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Johns Hopkins: Rejected Outright.

Someone very close to me at the time applied to the same MFA programs I did; this person, an immensely talented poet and poetry editor, ended up being one of four poets in the United States accepted at Cornell University in 2007--Cornell being the hardest MFA program to get into in America. As I understand it, here were the rest of her results:

Applied to Virginia: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Iowa: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Brown: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Johns Hopkins: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Michigan: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Massachusetts: Rejected Outright.

Your speculations--and that's all they are, speculations--about how the MFA process works are absolute nonsense.

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Oct 19, 2008, 8:50 PM)


owenj


Oct 19, 2008, 9:23 PM

Post #244 of 1018 (19338 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

umass76 - Great point. Way to bust out the sledge hammer.

Flobelle - Yes, to be honest I do feel like I wasted money and time applying to some of the schools I applied to. My mistake, though, was applying to a couple schools that I really would never have gone to. This was my mistake in my thinking process. I think the point folks are trying to make is that your chances are slim at a lot of these programs because you're competing with way more qualified and desirable applicants than there are slots available. It's just not the case that a program gets exactly the number of candidates they want to admit - they get far more candidates. I do think that many of the applicants at each school are applying to the same schools, so one might argue that you'll land somewhere, but be honest - there are a LOT of freaking people who want MFAs.

So if you really want it, you're better to cover your bases and apply to as many schools as you can. But, what others aren't hearing, is that it sounds like you'd only be happy at a small list of schools for whatever reason. If there are *really* only 6 schools where you can see yourself, then I think you're right to only apply to those schools and hope for the best - you don't want to be somewhere you dont want to be and nobody here can convince you that you should pick another 6 schools you really couldn't see yourself attending.

That said, though, if your *only* reason for getting an MFA is 'more time to write', then I'm not sure why you would limit yourself. There are certainly 12-15 schools with great reputations where you might have more time to write (I say might because depending on the program, with teaching and lit classes, you might actually not have more time to write.) I would argue that 'more time to write' is actually a pretty shitty reason to get an MFA given that you could probably make the sweet 15k a year stipend doing many other things than teaching and taking lit classes, so I would challenge yourself to really figure out what it is that makes you want an MFA so badly.


owenj


Oct 19, 2008, 9:43 PM

Post #245 of 1018 (19324 views)
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     Re: [owenj] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Oh, and I'm sure umass76 didn't mean to discourage anybody with his point, but you know, these things are arbitrary - he makes a great point of showing how somebody with significant accomplishments didn't get into a bunch of top schools. By the same token, I know many people who got into the schools on his list, including Iowa, without any publications. I think that just drills the point - while I would argue that the writers in the most competitive programs all have some merit, that merit is extremely arbitrary depending on who is looking at the application, and I would argue that every school has more people they *want* to admit but can't because they dont have enough slots.


umass76


Oct 19, 2008, 9:53 PM

Post #246 of 1018 (19320 views)
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     Re: [owenj] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

OwenJ,

Absolutely--my point was merely that it's a crapshoot (and that was the only reason I mentioned that stuff [and the only reason I would ever mention it here]). Most of the folks who got into the top programs last year had few or no publications. In fact, I've even acted as a mentor to some folks who got into programs I got rejected from, and they're many years younger than me and haven't even sent any work out for publication yet (which is totally fine and understandable). None of that bugs or surprises me in the least; literally, all it says to me is that we're in a largely-subjective field of study, and what one person likes another will not. This isn't merely a situation in which all of the top programs are as hard to get into as Harvard Medical School--that would be one thing--this is a situation in which all of the top programs are as hard to get into as Harvard Medical School and there's no way to predict whether your application is going to be competitive or not (unlike applying to med schools, where you can look at your GPA, your class rank, your MCAT scores, and so on; in the field of creative writing, everyone thinks they have ample talent--hell, we're writers, so we must be rampant egotists--so it's really not possible for any one of us to look around and say, thinking we're saying it "objectively," "Hey, I'm definitely better than that guy..." Because, well, maybe you are. And maybe the other guy thinks the same thing about you. And maybe the admissions committee at your top choice program will agree with him and not you).

S.


flobelle


Oct 20, 2008, 12:20 AM

Post #247 of 1018 (19270 views)
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     Re: [owenj] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

My reasons for an MFA:

1. more time to write
2. connections
3. I would like the degree. I will have close to 30 credits toward an MFA degree before applying. I am applying in the program I have taken courses in, along with another program. I am told my credits will apply to the degree should I end up in the program I took the classes in initially.

I realize my situation is a little different, having accumulated graduate credit in the program of my choice already.

umass76, re:the Iowa thing. I have a number of friends who ended up going to Iowa and are there now or have graduated from the program. They only applied to Iowa. They didn't waste their money or time applying to other programs. Why should they? They knew where they wanted to go, and they applied and went there. I'm not saying that lesser programs should accept top writers...why would the programs do something like that, when they have the opportunity to take the writers who are likely to accept their offer (lesser writers=they do need to fill the class after all). I have friends who ended up going to other programs too, and they all applied to where they wanted to go, and went there. My friend at N. Michigan? Applied to N. Michigan. Didn't apply anywhere else.


potshot


Oct 20, 2008, 11:22 AM

Post #248 of 1018 (19222 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
"I will have close to 30 credits toward an MFA degree before applying. I am applying in the program I have taken courses in, along with another program. I am told my credits will apply to the degree should I end up in the program I took the classes in initially."

If you've completed a majority of the credit hours, already have been through some of the program you think you'll be able to attend, why are you trolling in a thread about whittling down the list? You have one program. Great. Go to it and allow everyone else to talk about the topic at hand. You've admitted you don't belong in this discussion.


HopperFu


Oct 20, 2008, 12:36 PM

Post #249 of 1018 (19200 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To

Your speculations--and that's all they are, speculations--about how the MFA process works are absolute nonsense.


I'd agree. My stats:
2005: Wash U St. Louis - Rejected
2006: Wash U St. Louis - Rejected
University of Iowa - Waitlisted
Cornell& Michigan - Accepted

One of my application stories in 2006 was accepted for Tin House from the slush pile and picked as a jury favorite for The O. Henry Prize, the other published in The Southwest Review, and both were given special mention in the Pushcarts.
I guess I wasn't good enough or ready to go to Wash U or to make it off the wait list at Iowa.

Good enough really is an issue, but a the reading process is subjective.
As one prof told me about reading for acceptances for his very well regarded program, "if I had a fight with my wife the morning I read your application, you probably aren't getting in."

That's why you apply widely.

All that being said: DON'T APPLY TO A SCHOOL YOU DON'T WANT TO GO TO! If you'll ONLY be happy at Iowa, only apply there.


Yugao


Oct 21, 2008, 11:10 AM

Post #250 of 1018 (19084 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Don't you feel you wasted your money applying to lesser-ranked schools?

Well, no. I don't have ESP and couldn't have predicted which schools would accept me. Besides, every school I applied to is very highly ranked. I just happened to get into the one, based on the numbers I was told by various schools, that was most selective. That doesn't mean the schools that rejected me were lesser-ranked schools. The difference between a >2% admission rate and a 2 or 3% admission rate isn't that significant.


(This post was edited by Yugao on Oct 21, 2008, 11:10 AM)


Tabby


e-mail user

Oct 23, 2008, 5:11 PM

Post #251 of 1018 (16133 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Hey Flobelle,

I'd like to give you a little backup in that people applying to these crazy long lists of programs gets to feeling extreme. I applied to eight and that just about did me in (I got in two). What about having a life? What about time to write? Sure, put out as many applications as you can stand, but isn't there a point where it gets a bit maniacal? It feels as though people are scurrying around with GRE vocab cards and losing sight of the real goal: the work.

Now I'm curious. Is there anyone out there who applied to 12- 15 progs and then got in one, making it all worthwhile?


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


unsaid78


Oct 23, 2008, 5:28 PM

Post #252 of 1018 (16126 views)
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     Re: [Tabby] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Hey Flobelle,

I'd like to give you a little backup in that people applying to these crazy long lists of programs gets to feeling extreme. I applied to eight and that just about did me in (I got in two). What about having a life? What about time to write? Sure, put out as many applications as you can stand, but isn't there a point where it gets a bit maniacal? It feels as though people are scurrying around with GRE vocab cards and losing sight of the real goal: the work.

Now I'm curious. Is there anyone out there who applied to 12- 15 progs and then got in one, making it all worthwhile?



To each his/her own!

I'm applying to a lot of schools and I have a life, my writing sample has been complete, and I'm a GRE vocab card carrier as well. Since my focus is "the work" I am applying to as many MFA programs as I can so I can focus on that work and improve it.

I just don't understand all the criticism of those of us applying to 12-15 (or slightly more) programs. Why the need to imply anything about the talent or dedication of those of us who really want an MFA bad enough to apply to 12-15 great programs? I have multiple publications and an award for my work so it should be no surprise that I would put as much dedication into getting into a program as I put into my writing because it's all the same to me.

If it's not your thing, it's not your thing but seriously...let me do my thing in peace.


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


Raysen


Oct 23, 2008, 6:11 PM

Post #253 of 1018 (16105 views)
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     Re: Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

There's no point in trying to convince Flobelle (and others similarly inclined) that applying to 15+ schools is The Way. When people read these threads and posts, they get a clear view of the picture. Of the MFA application landscape. If they want to apply to only one or two, that's fine with me!

When I applied to undergrad, I had good objective data to know which schools I could get into. So I applied to 4 schools -- two top-notch, one solid, and one safety. As it turned out -- I got into all of them. For law school, same thing because we all know they use mostly objective data like GPAs, LSATs, and your list of accomplishments. I applied to four law schools and got into three of them. For MFA, I'm not too certain of anything because the admissions decision is NOT based on objective data. It doesn't matter what your GPA or GREs or list of accomplishments are -- to a certain extent. What matters is the writing sample and the mood and aesthetic leanings of the Admissions Committee members AT THE TIME THEY READ YOUR WORK. Very subjective. I can see myself getting into ALL schools as well as NO schools. Frankly, I'll just be happy with one acceptance.


Tabby


e-mail user

Oct 23, 2008, 6:50 PM

Post #254 of 1018 (16092 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Unsaid78,

Sorry! I actually came back to delete after experiencing a bout of "poster's regret," but then you had replied. Last night I met someone who applied to twelve programs and didn't get in one. (I haven't read her writing but she seemed very smart, well-read and had attended writer's programs). She felt like she had lost a year of her life, and she hadn't written since. I saw the flip side of investing so much of yourself in something that, whether you put in 5, 15, or 50 applications, boils down to a subjective process.

I admit, it's easy for me to be cavalier about how I applied because everything worked out. At the time, I thought eight was this insanely high number of applications. Maybe what I meant to say is that if you aren't up for this large number of apps, because it is going to stress you out and cost too much money and take over your life and keep you from writing, it's also okay to just send a few apps out to programs you really care about and see what happens. Maybe that's heresy in this forum. I don't know.

But ultimately, Unsaid78, you are right. The number of applications a person chooses to manage is a personal call.


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


unsaid78


Oct 23, 2008, 8:50 PM

Post #255 of 1018 (16065 views)
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     Re: [Tabby] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I admit, it's easy for me to be cavalier about how I applied because everything worked out. At the time, I thought eight was this insanely high number of applications. Maybe what I meant to say is that if you aren't up for this large number of apps, because it is going to stress you out and cost too much money and take over your life and keep you from writing, it's also okay to just send a few apps out to programs you really care about and see what happens. Maybe that's heresy in this forum. I don't know.



It's cool, Tabby! I see what you're saying and I'm inspired by your success at getting in, finishing, and moving on to a PhD (I think :-) )!

I've seen posts where people are applying to a smaller amount of schools for financial reasons. I totally get that. Even to apply to fewer schools just because those are the only schools you'd be interested in is understandable. But, to do so with a negative attitude toward applicants not doing the same is, apparently, more than my nerves can handle! lol


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


captaintodd
Todd Thomas


Nov 2, 2008, 11:17 AM

Post #256 of 1018 (15878 views)
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     Programs in the UK? [In reply to]  

I'm looking into the creative writing MFA options in the UK, specifically at the U. of Edinburgh. Has anyone researched these programs? I'm looking to understand the plus/minuses of attending a program abroad.


luvrbuoy


Nov 3, 2008, 7:56 PM

Post #257 of 1018 (15766 views)
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     Withdrawing from current program? [In reply to]  

"At the patron's request, this post has been deleted."




(This post was edited by motet on Nov 28, 2008, 6:42 PM)


__________



Nov 3, 2008, 8:10 PM

Post #258 of 1018 (15763 views)
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     Re: [luvrbuoy] Withdrawing from current program? [In reply to]  

Wait a sec -- you are enrolled in a US MFA program...with two instructors and a dept. chair...and you are spending a semester abroad?


six five four three two one 0 ->


luvrbuoy


Nov 3, 2008, 8:19 PM

Post #259 of 1018 (15758 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Withdrawing from current program? [In reply to]  

"At the patron's request, this post has been deleted."




(This post was edited by motet on Nov 28, 2008, 6:42 PM)


luvrbuoy


Nov 5, 2008, 10:04 AM

Post #260 of 1018 (15657 views)
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     Re: [luvrbuoy] Withdrawing from current program? [In reply to]  

I'd be grateful to hear from others who had to leave their program before completion. Has anyone out there successfully transferred? If I can't transfer would a semester's credits on a transcript look good for admissions to another program next year?

thanks a lot,
luvrbuoy


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Nov 5, 2008, 10:33 AM

Post #261 of 1018 (15653 views)
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     Re: [luvrbuoy] Withdrawing from current program? [In reply to]  

I knew a couple of people in my program who had transferred from someplace else. At the very least, I don't think they would hold it against you -- and they would probably transfer the credits.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


germericanqt


Nov 5, 2008, 12:43 PM

Post #262 of 1018 (15625 views)
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     Getting close! [In reply to]  

I've got my manuscript finished and printed out for each of the schools. I have some of the application fees paid and the rest budgeted to be paid by Nov. 22nd. I have the packets all organized and nothing left to do but wait for the last of the LOR's, pay the fees, and then ship out the packets. I'm excited! Is anyone else getting to this point?

Couple of questions:

1) Does it really make a difference if you send your manuscript early or closer to the deadline? I would hope it wouldn't, but I've heard a couple of (contradictory) opinions on this, and I want to know what you think.

2) Is anyone else having last minute regrets about programs they didn't apply to? Which ones? I'm wondering if I should have applied to Iowa (I mean, it's IOWA) and also if I should have applied to my one true safety school even though I have no desire to go there. Also I'm second-guessing myself about going for Syracuse instead of Cornell. Oh well. Not going to ask my recommenders for yet another letter.


v1ctorya


Nov 5, 2008, 1:44 PM

Post #263 of 1018 (15602 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Getting close! [In reply to]  

I should start admitting that applications are final and pay and stop obsessing about the statements of purposes and such.

I'm waiting on 2 LOR so freaked about that.

re-freaking over an application story.

Also continually freaking over my selections. Should I have added that school and not this one? Just the general application anxiety I suppose


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Nov 5, 2008, 2:34 PM

Post #264 of 1018 (15591 views)
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     Re: [luvrbuoy] Withdrawing from current program? [In reply to]  

We had someone transfer to Brown in my first year at Hollins. It's my understanding that credits probably won't transfer (there may be some exceptions to this, I'm not sure). Essentially transferring is starting over in a new place. That said, if it's starting over at a place with decent funding it may not be a bad thing. Most important is finding a place you're happy.


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


Linzetta


Nov 5, 2008, 4:23 PM

Post #265 of 1018 (15564 views)
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     Re: [v1ctorya] Getting close! [In reply to]  

wow you both are way ahead of me in the application process, which makes me nervous!!

I've got my creative submission done, and have also sent out packets to my recommenders and begun the online apps. Still so much to do though of course. Ordering GRE scores and transcripts. Hammering out a Statement of Purpose. A critical essay. An autobiographical essay. Gulp!

Is anyone applying to Utah?

I read on their website that the deadline was Dec. 15, but the Graduate offices says that the application has to be in at least a month prior to the deadline for processing. Can someone tell me if there's some cushion with this and also what the point of a an alleged deadline is, if it's not the actual deadline?!


mr.shankly


Nov 5, 2008, 6:22 PM

Post #266 of 1018 (15541 views)
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     Re: [Linzetta] Getting close! [In reply to]  

I'm pretty behind in the process as well -- but I applied last year, so I'm hoping the process is a bit easier this year.

I'm trying to find programs that have community outreach possibilities, i.e. working with youth literacy groups. I know NYU does a lot of community work. Does anyone know of other programs that take an active role in the community?


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Nov 5, 2008, 8:09 PM

Post #267 of 1018 (15509 views)
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     Re: [mr.shankly] Getting close! [In reply to]  

SIU-Carbondale has opportunities to teach creative writing to kids of all ages, I think it's called Saluki Young Writer's program. No requirements at all to do it, just willingness.

Rick


unsaid78


Nov 6, 2008, 3:24 AM

Post #268 of 1018 (15469 views)
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     Re: [Linzetta] Getting close! [In reply to]  

Don't worry...I'm right with you as far as apps go. No info on Utah though.

When I'm awake, I have no reservations about the schools I'm applying to at all. I will admit that I've had two dreams about being accepted to schools I do not plan on applying to. No lie. I re-researched the schools and ultimately decided I still wasn't going to apply. One of them was Oregon and I can't remember the other one. I know that's crazy but I mention it in case I'm, somehow, not the only one whose had odd dreams.

I'm starting my apps this week and sending out transcripts.

I have a question. If I'm going to graduate in December, is it okay to send out my transcripts now? I'd like to do this for 2 reasons: 1. my GPA is great right now. 2. my GPA won't be as great after this semester because I've been slacking since it's my last semester :)

My guess is that I can just send them now and then if I get accepted maybe they'll ask for proof that I graduated at that point? I don't know. Most of the deadlines for the schools I'm applying to are after my transcripts would be updated to say I graduated anyway. Any veterans of the application process got any info on this?


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


HopperFu


Nov 6, 2008, 8:10 AM

Post #269 of 1018 (15460 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] Getting close! [In reply to]  

Absolutely send your transcript now. It's fine. They may very well ask for some documentation later that you actually graduated, but even that is doubtful (believe it or not, a college degree is not necessarily a prerequisite for all graduate programs).
High GPA is better than low, but it doesn't matter anyway. Unless your GPA really sucks, it will have no bearing on your application.


unsaid78


Nov 6, 2008, 12:58 PM

Post #270 of 1018 (15414 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Getting close! [In reply to]  

Thanks for your response, Hopper! I'm going to go ahead and send them now.


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


Katevey


Nov 9, 2008, 6:39 PM

Post #271 of 1018 (15278 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] Getting close! [In reply to]  

This section has been great. Utah just went off my list because I can't apply any place whose deadline is earlier than January 4th; money is the reason. Noone looks at you until the fees are paid. It's also the reason I'm apply almost exclusively to fully funded programs, with a couple exceptions. U. of Ala is still #1, followed by Montana, Arizona, U. Ill/Chambana, U. Ga., Va. Commonwealth; all have great faculty. It's been suggested I apply to Iowa, even the fantasy-think I'd be one of the few who gets full funding for them hasn't been enough. Realized it wouldn't be feasible to apply to any low-res. I still may be the oldest person living in a tent along the river.... Any of you inner considering about applying to vast numbers of schools, the rest of us are simply jealous you're able. I'm working on having "better" recommenders this year. I don't mind being the oldest kid on the block but everyone really qualified died, quite a while ago. I've completely revised my application statement and re-worked a couple poems I'll again include and added newer/different ones.
And I have "a life," including full-time job and having queries out for a children's book. I'm looking only at MFA poetry programs. Note: getting older can be an advantage, I send out queries up to how old I am. In the numbers game, the odds are now with me. :)
If anyone can list schools that would allow one to send apps and pay the fee in January, please let me know.


unsaid78


Nov 9, 2008, 6:56 PM

Post #272 of 1018 (15268 views)
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     Re: [Katevey] Getting close! [In reply to]  

Hey Katevey,

Here's a list of the January 15 deadline schools I've looked into. I'm also going for pretty good funding:

University of Florida
University of Houston
Southern Illinois, Carbondale
Boise State

January 22: Vanderbilt

March 15: Virginia Tech

Hope that helps!


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


flobelle


Nov 9, 2008, 7:02 PM

Post #273 of 1018 (15267 views)
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     Re: [Katevey] Getting close! [In reply to]  

I say, go for it. I think that being older can be to your advantage. There are a lot of people in MFA programs who are older. Sometimes they are the best writers, and othertimes, they're the worst, which I take to be a sign of some kind of balance.

I recently decided not to go. You might see my snit fit with half the people here some pages back...I decided it's not for me. If you've decided that this is it, you should try your best to make it happen. Good luck:)

PS Apply to Iowa. Iowa City is a great place to live and work out the kinks of "being a writer." Also the Writers' Workshop funds people, contrary to popular belief, or at least I know people who have been recipients of such funding.


umass76


Nov 9, 2008, 8:04 PM

Post #274 of 1018 (15252 views)
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     Re: [Katevey] Getting close! [In reply to]  

Hi Katevey,

Not sure where you got your information from--nearly everyone at Iowa is either fully-funded or within a hair's breadth of full funding. As the program moves toward full disclosure of all its financial aid offerings, in the next official funding ranking it will probably rank in the top 10 nationally funding-wise.

Best,
Seth


mr.shankly


Nov 12, 2008, 10:11 AM

Post #275 of 1018 (15114 views)
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     Re: [mr.shankly] Getting close! [In reply to]  

In case anyone else was looking for similar info, I contacted directors at a few programs, and here's a list of schools who place an importance on community outreach:

UNC Wilmington
VCU
Alabama
NYU

Not involved, and didn't seem to show any interest in ever being involved:
Hollins


If anyone knows of other places (preferably East coast) with outreach work, I'd love to hear about it. I need to finalize my list soon soon soon.


germericanqt


Nov 12, 2008, 1:11 PM

Post #276 of 1018 (16516 views)
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     Re: [mr.shankly] Getting close! [In reply to]  

It seems silly to me to make that one of your criteria. If a program doesn't have any kind of community outreach, that's an awesome opportunity to start an outreach program yourself.


mr.shankly


Nov 12, 2008, 3:30 PM

Post #277 of 1018 (16482 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Getting close! [In reply to]  

You're right, and I have places on my list without outreach programs. But starting a community myself could take the entire 2-3 years of my time in the program. It's really important to me to be in a program that values working with the community, so if I have the opportunity to build on a school's current programs versus begin my own in a short time, I'll choose to build.

Of course, if I don't have the choice, I'll gladly go to a school without programs set in place and try to get something started.


unsaid78


Nov 12, 2008, 4:50 PM

Post #278 of 1018 (16464 views)
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     Re: [mr.shankly] Getting close! [In reply to]  

Yeah, I'm more of a joiner than I am a starter in this case too. The schools on my list who have outreach programs noted on their sites:

Southern Illinois- Carbondale
Michener
(you already listed NYU).

Most of my schools don't mention having outreach programs in place. It wasn't a deciding factor at all but it did make the prospect of attending schools with outreach seem even more exciting. I won't be missing out if I don't do outreach in grad school since I intend to get involved with outreach post-MFA anyway. I just used the word "outreach" more than I'll ever use it...lol.


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


ali888


Nov 16, 2008, 3:36 PM

Post #279 of 1018 (16337 views)
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     OHIO STATE [In reply to]  

I am sure there are people on this thread that may have already mentioned this, but I want to throw in a bid for Ohio State's MFA program. I am a current fiction student, and I absolutely love it here. The faculty are accomplished, approachable, and helpful; the students are talented and positive as a whole, and the writing community fostered by the program is great. All accepted students receive either a tuition waiver and TAship, or a tuition waiver and fellowship. The program is a good size (about 45 students combined in a given year, and it's a three-year program). You have the opportunity to work on The Journal, the OSU literary magazine. There is also a new nonfiction hire in the works for next year, which is pretty awesome.

Here are some great links to info about the program. If you are still looking for anther program at which to apply, this is an EXCELLENT option to add to the list. Please reply or PM me if interested! I am a big cheerleader for the program, and I'm very happy here. The quality of the work from both the teachers AND the students is awesome. A very inclusive, craft-oriented group of people.

Best of the Best, from the Atlantic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200708/mfa-programs

The OSU MFA faculty from the creative writing homepage:

http://english.osu.edu/programs/creativewriting/crfaculty.cfm

It's also worth checking out the alumni section of the creative writing homepage. Many OSU alums are publishing quality work and teaching at the college level after finishing:

http://english.osu.edu/programs/creativewriting/alumni.cfm

-ali


jamx85
James

Nov 16, 2008, 11:20 PM

Post #280 of 1018 (16266 views)
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     Re: [mr.shankly] Getting close! [In reply to]  

Purdue's MFA program also maintains a community outreach program (The Looseleaf Workshops) as a part of its graduate run literary journal, the Sycamore Review. Here is a schedule of what we did last year. The program is entirely run by MFA students. During this fall semester, we have been volunteering at a local community center helping kids write poetry and running a community fiction workshop at our local library. We are also planning to organize future workshops with the elderly and the homeless. If you are attending AWP in Chicago this year, you can find us on a panel (R117) with 826 Chicago and Pen/Faulkner's Writers in the Schools Program.

Good luck on your applications!


James
Fiction Editor
Sycamore Review

(This post was edited by jamx85 on Nov 16, 2008, 11:26 PM)


sayra


Nov 17, 2008, 10:55 PM

Post #281 of 1018 (16160 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] Getting close! [In reply to]  

The University of Michigan also has a partnership with InsideOut Detroit, so 4 students each year work as writers-in-residence in schools in Detroit. There's a small stipend attached, and it's the most fulfilling / fun / amazing work in the world. Yay kiddies.


mvalente


Nov 18, 2008, 12:04 AM

Post #282 of 1018 (16144 views)
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     Re: [sayra] Getting close! [In reply to]  

Students at the University of Notre Dame run creative writing workshops at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, and we conducted a panel during AWP in NYC on the program. We've also read our work at the local high school.


pernicus


Nov 18, 2008, 2:00 PM

Post #283 of 1018 (16077 views)
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     Done [In reply to]  

So I just sent out my last application. 10 in all. Im feeling confident, my stories have been done and polished for a while, my reccs and statements are all good...and yet I know that the odds of getting into a program are so hit and miss that I'm just not sure how the hell I'm going to survive the next few months. I guess I'll just keep writing. It will probably be pretty depressing stuff. Anyone been here before and have any tips for the next few months?


Tabby


e-mail user

Nov 18, 2008, 4:05 PM

Post #284 of 1018 (16052 views)
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     Re: [pernicus] Done [In reply to]  

Hey,

When I applied to MFA progs I didn't know about the Kealy blog or the Speakeasy and I think it was a blessing. I was blissfully unaware. My advice is completely forget about the whole process for a while. The apps are in. What's done is done. For now write, make money (you'll need it!) and focus on whatever else on your life. 3-4 months is too long to spend in rumination. After my apps were in I put all thoughts of the MFA aside until around mid February, at which time I indulged in full obsessive panic mode (at that point I couldn't help it). But for now, if you can, try not to have your entire winter haunted by this fear of failure/success.

Hang in there and be kind to yourself.


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


v1ctorya


Nov 20, 2008, 1:42 PM

Post #285 of 1018 (15933 views)
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     Re: [pernicus] Done [In reply to]  


In Reply To
So I just sent out my last application. 10 in all. Im feeling confident, my stories have been done and polished for a while, my reccs and statements are all good...and yet I know that the odds of getting into a program are so hit and miss that I'm just not sure how the hell I'm going to survive the next few months. I guess I'll just keep writing. It will probably be pretty depressing stuff. Anyone been here before and have any tips for the next few months?



Take an unrelated class! Seriously, I found I came back to my writing fresher after painting/scultping for a while. It gives you a new perspective, you work with a different part of your brain. Check out your local Y, they'll have a lot of cool classes.

I hope to get mine out by Thanksgiving, I have all the envelopes prepped, just need last minute changes to SOPs and to get two letters of rec - I have one who said he'd send it to me shortly and another I have to bug this weekend to get it.

Good luck!


meganmassaro


Nov 23, 2008, 1:51 PM

Post #286 of 1018 (15795 views)
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     Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

Hi All,

New to this forum, and for that matter, to the whole idea of getting an MFA. I'll spare the details, but I'm hoping to transition from a teaching career (6 years in an English Dept.) to writing. That said, I've gone hard and fast and am just getting the application process started now. I don't feel very stressed about deadlines - Brown and NYU are the only two between now and the new year - but I'm just curious if anyone else is in a similar situation. After reading numerous posts, I wonder if I should be more anxious?!

I should add: I may not be anxious because I haven't had much time to mull this over. I really have NO IDEA what my chances are of getting into any of the schools I applied to (Brown, NYU, New School, Brooklyn College, Washington U, Emerson, Antioch), nor can I really afford to think about it much, being a full-time teacher at present. In terms of my "qualifications"...I've never been published; I'm not a part of a literary community; I haven't done any workshopping since my undergrad days 5 years ago. I just enjoy writing, and believe I have some talent and promise. Is that enough??

Thanks for reading. =)
Megan


(This post was edited by meganmassaro on Nov 23, 2008, 1:58 PM)


zebulon


Nov 24, 2008, 11:55 PM

Post #287 of 1018 (15682 views)
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     Re: The neurotic list continues [In reply to]  

OK, I was all set with my list, I thought finally (Iowa, Cornell, Michigan, Indiana, Irvine, Purdue, U Washington, Michener and UNC- Wilmington) but then I started looking at the U of MN site and seeing that Seth has their poetry program ranked very high, and Ray Gonzales is really right up my alley the more I think about it, as well as a number of other reasons-- the problem is money... I was stretching very thin to apply to 9 schools as it was, and I just don't know if I could squeeze any more application fees out of thin air... so I was trying to figure out which one to drop, or if I should sell some plasma or something, because like everyone has been saying, acceptance rates are very low, and I really, really don't want to be waiting tables next fall (unless it is concurrent with an MFA, I guess)... Anyone have any suggestions? Priorities for me are 1-teaching creative writing over comp as much as possible, 2- lit mag editing, and 3- if at all possible some sort of press internship... thanks again for all the time you guys spend helping us while we squirm.


germericanqt


Nov 25, 2008, 1:12 AM

Post #288 of 1018 (15670 views)
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     Re: [meganmassaro] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

I think the silence is so heavy because you can get your answers simply by browsing through past posts. I will, however, give a brief recap:

The schools you listed have tiny acceptance rates and, in some cases, less-than-stellar funding. From what you've said, you haven't started to apply yet. In my opinion, you can't afford NOT to think about it. Check out some of Seth's statistics at The Suburban Ecstasies. It will help you make a more informed decision about which schools to apply to, and better prepare you for your chances of getting rejected. It's very widely accepted around here that you can't predict your chances of being accepted (no matter how much talent or promise you have) other than by the statistics given, so give yourself the best chance you can.

That being said, I'm applying to twelve schools and not one of them has an acceptance rate higher than 7.5%. So, follow your instincts and your heart, just be aware of the odds.

Also, I would recommend having at least a couple of trusted/well-read friends look over your manuscript, especially if you're submitting never-been-workshopped pieces.


flobelle


Nov 25, 2008, 10:45 AM

Post #289 of 1018 (15629 views)
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     Re: [germericanqt] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

Here's the deal about statistics. They apply to a group of applicants, not individuals. So just because the "odds" say that you only have a 7.5% chance of getting in, that's not you. That's an applicant. Your odds might be better or worse depending on the quality of your writing. Believe me, more people think they can write than those who actually write, if reading cover letters addressed to the lit mag I work for is any indication.

I don't understand the emphasis on statistical analyses to get data on such overwhelmingly subjective information.

And to the teacher above who's going to apply to those schools? Good luck!


umass76


Nov 25, 2008, 12:42 PM

Post #290 of 1018 (15596 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

Flobelle,

The reason, of course, is that we don't look at these numbers in a vacuum. The key is, and always has been, relative selectivity. No one ever says the difference in selectivity between Harvard University (undergrad) and, for instance, Louisiana Tech (undergrad) is immaterial, so neither is it immaterial when it comes to MFA admissions--and just as with undergrad admissions, the numbers only have meaning when compared with one another. Nor is the difference between undergrad and MFA admissions a difference between the "objective" and "subjective"--college admissions officers take into account extracurricular activities, entrance essays, interviews, geographic and demographic diversity, historical trends from the applicant's high school, and many other factors the average applicant can't possibly put a number on (or, in many cases, even know). But by comparing Harvard's accpetance rate to that of other schools, we get a sense of the difficulty of being admitted there. Just so with MFA admissions.

The other point is this: most young writers have absolutely no idea of whether they can write or not; they're just starting out as self-editors, and thus as self-assessors. The statistics are therefore valuable in this sense as well--they allow applicants to make informed judgments under the "all things being equal" assessment necessary for those who don't yet know fully their own strengths and weaknesses. Yes, the MFA admissions process is largely subjective, but only a poor grasp of logic takes one from that conclusion to the conclusion that acceptance rates are immaterial and/or irrelevant.

S.


Raysen


Nov 25, 2008, 12:46 PM

Post #291 of 1018 (15594 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] The neurotic list continues [In reply to]  

You should be mindful of due dates. For example, UC Irvine, which is on your list, is due on Dec. 1. You can't spend all your time thinking heavily about WHERE to apply this late in the season. It's time to make a decision and just apply to the daggum schools.


flobelle


Nov 25, 2008, 1:13 PM

Post #292 of 1018 (15585 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

Statistics for the "average" applicant don't make sense if there is no average applicant.


umass76


Nov 25, 2008, 3:36 PM

Post #293 of 1018 (15554 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

F.--

[Sigh].

Best of luck.

S.


Raysen


Nov 25, 2008, 4:01 PM

Post #294 of 1018 (15544 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

I'm very very different from most applicants in many respects. That's why I hope and pray that my writing samples are good enough to get me past the initial reads by the Admissions Committee. Once they get to my Personal Statement and look through my other application materials, I'm a shoo-in. But the key is the writing sample.

I was so worried about it that I specifically took a couple of fiction workshop classes this winter to get my writing samples workshopped by others and the expert MFA-grad instructors. I was pleasantly surprised that most (nearly all) of them loved my stories. I'm hoping they weren't being nice just to be nice. I also got a professional writer (one of my recommenders) to review my writing samples. He loved them so much he said, "I'd be surprised if you didn't get into Iowa."

So, here I am with writing samples that have met with positive feedback and I'm still worried. Why? These MFA programs only have room for a small number of students. They reject hundreds of quality applicants with quality writing samples. Luck is what I need.

So, am I worried about the 4-7% admission rate? No. I think my chances are better than that. What I'm worried about are the 50-70 or so applicants of each school who are quality applicants and who have submitted quality writing samples. That's who I'm worried about. I'm not worried about Greta Goodwrite; I'm worried about the super-talented applicants whose writing samples and application materials really shine.


(This post was edited by Raysen on Nov 25, 2008, 4:02 PM)


__________



Nov 25, 2008, 4:10 PM

Post #295 of 1018 (15540 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

How would a personal statement and other non-writing-sample materials make you a shoo-in? I don't get it...


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Raysen


Nov 25, 2008, 4:13 PM

Post #296 of 1018 (15537 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

The content. Like I said, I'm very very different from the "typical" applicant. I've done things, been to places, met people, accomplished a thing or two, and there's something very unique about me (which I won't disclose).

I'm also assuming that the Personal Statement (and Statement of Purpose) and other application materials will play a factor in the admission process. If not, I need Lady Luck.


(This post was edited by Raysen on Nov 25, 2008, 4:15 PM)


jaywalke


Nov 25, 2008, 4:15 PM

Post #297 of 1018 (15533 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  


In Reply To
How would a personal statement and other non-writing-sample materials make you a shoo-in? I don't get it...



Blackmail/bribery. It's a tough old world, and you've got to think outside the box.


__________



Nov 25, 2008, 4:17 PM

Post #298 of 1018 (15528 views)
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     Post deleted by Junior Maas [In reply to]

 


Raysen


Nov 25, 2008, 4:17 PM

Post #299 of 1018 (15528 views)
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     Re: [jaywalke] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

Okay, how about an example. A hypothetical example. Let's say I was Bono of U2 fame. Do you think Iowa or any other MFA program would reject Bono if his writing sample got past the first set of filters?


Raysen


Nov 25, 2008, 4:19 PM

Post #300 of 1018 (15525 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

HA! I love "Slaughterhouse Five" and Vonnegut!


__________



Nov 25, 2008, 4:20 PM

Post #301 of 1018 (16820 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

Yes! If they had any integrity. I don't think it's like Kevin Arnold from Wonder Years going to Princeton, or Natalie Portman getting into to Harvard...

But yikes. Wouldn't you hope that it's your writing that an admissions committee will respond to? Rather than who you know or the places you've been? (Or the mysterious unique-i-fy-ing element?)

I dunno. I'm hoping schools will look for what they consider stellar writing, not stuff that's merely good enough to get past the first read + Hey, it's that transgendered Vanuatuan Real World contestant who went to Bali and had lunch with Neil Armstrong!

Still and all. Even if they were looking for people born in space who know a guy...I'm just wondering what would make one person a 100% shoo-in. It's a shame you won't tell us -- my curiosity has been piqued. Big time!


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 25, 2008, 4:23 PM)


umass76


Nov 25, 2008, 4:39 PM

Post #302 of 1018 (16804 views)
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     Re: [In reply to]  

Raysen,

Would an MFA program reject Bono? I don't know, ask James Franco. He's at NYU. Possibly it was his first choice.

...

Possibly it was.

S.


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Nov 25, 2008, 4:47 PM

Post #303 of 1018 (16797 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Re: [In reply to]  

Not to get into gossip. But a friend of mine at Brooklyn College's MFA said he saw him in a fiction workshop there. Either way, I heard he wanted to go to Columbia and got rejected. So there's that.

If this whole poetry thing doesn't work out, I could just start a 'hollywood stars going for MFAs" blog.


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


mvalente


Nov 25, 2008, 4:54 PM

Post #304 of 1018 (16791 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

Fred Savage (Kevin Arnold) went to Stanford, as did his little brother, Ben Savage. James Franco (according to Wikipedia), graduated from Palo Alto High School -- go Bay Area! -- and in 2008, he moved to NYC to attend Columbia's MFA Program. Maybe he wants to write screenplays?

On a side note, there's a youtube video of Michael Chabon answering a question at a reading regarding is role in Spiderman 2 and his departure from Spiderman 3 -- He discusses the plot, narrative, number of villains, etc. I actually think that it's pertinent to story-telling and writing narratives.

Regarding this thread, I do think that there's a small chance of getting admitted based on who you are...like tiny. That's how the real world functions, and some times, MFA programs, literary journals, and publishing houses are no different.

Mike Valente


germericanqt


Nov 25, 2008, 4:59 PM

Post #305 of 1018 (16788 views)
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     Re: [HollinsMFAer] Re: [In reply to]  

Woah, Raysen! Now you've got me all paranoid! I'm excited about my main story, I think it's my best work, and I've gotten very positive reviews on OTHER things that I've written, but my recommenders have said very little about this particular story (if they loved it, they'd say so, I'm assuming) and my boyfriend didn't like it because "he didn't understand it." Still, I feel that it's a strong piece and a good representation of what I can do (and might someday be able to do) as a writer.

I've rethought every piece in my portfolio, but not this story. Now I'm wondering if that's foolish of me. :(


__________



Nov 25, 2008, 5:20 PM

Post #306 of 1018 (16777 views)
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     Re: [mvalente] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

Stanford! Yeah, that's what I meant. He hit on a friend of mine using this improbable gangsta slang: Yo, girl -- why you gotta be dissin' me? After which, she could only stumble around the party in a daze, asking people, Did that really just happen?

But back to the Franco: he's studying screenwriting, right? Maybe making it a little less crappy than if he tried to wedge himself into a fiction program?

(Raysen, if you are James Franco, I do apologize...I really did believe you were a stoner in Pineapple Express.)


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 25, 2008, 5:29 PM)


Raysen


Nov 25, 2008, 6:55 PM

Post #307 of 1018 (16740 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

I don't think James Franco is a big enough name to warrant automatic admission to any MFA program. And if I were James Franco, why would I bother applying again if I'm already at NYU's MFA program?

I didn't say I was famous. Bono was just an example. In the grand scheme of things, I'm a nobody. But I am very unique.

My point is: the Personal Statement (and Statement of Purpose or whatever) and other materials in your application have to count for something. All else being equal -- and why wouldn't 50 or so applicants be equal -- ties have to be broken somehow. So, let's say I'm reading a Short Story anthology book. There are 50 stories there by 50 authors. How do I decide which one is the best? How do I pick the 12 best? Based only on the short stories in the anthology, should Tim O'Brien be picked ahead of Russell Banks? Should Louise Erdrich be picked over Lorrie Moore? It's not easy. This scenario just shouts "tie-breaker!"

That's what I'm talking about. I didn't say I wanted my writing (or writing sample) to be merely "good enough" for the entirety of my writing career. Of course I want my writing to be GREAT and I want the Admissions peeps to admit me because they love my writing! My point was: I wanted my writing sample to be good enough to get past the first set of reads by the Admissions committee so that they can get to my Personal Statement. When they do, I'm in like Flynn.


(This post was edited by Raysen on Nov 25, 2008, 6:57 PM)


jaywalke


Nov 25, 2008, 7:13 PM

Post #308 of 1018 (16731 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I am very unique.


I just hope you aren't relying on that third nipple, because, to be honest, all writers have those.

Good luck.


__________



Nov 25, 2008, 7:15 PM

Post #309 of 1018 (16730 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

I'm still just at a staggering loss as to what quality would greenlight you over more qualified applicants....

Is Lan Samantha Chang going to be like, Ooh, she's the fattest woman alive! Or: Look, a man with a pronged penis. Let him in!

Help me to understand. I demand a clue!

I guess if you're really worried about it you could always just give Iowa a call. Like, "Hello, James Alan McPherson? Big fan. Listen, I want you to be on the lookout for my application. My name is Danny Bonaduce. Yes, that Danny Bonaduce..."


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 25, 2008, 7:20 PM)


aiyamei

e-mail user

Nov 25, 2008, 8:11 PM

Post #310 of 1018 (16711 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Statistics for the "average" applicant don't make sense if there is no average applicant.


Flobelle, this idea would only begin to halfway make sense if admissions to MFA programs functioned in the following way: the school created as many spots as qualified applicants. So let's say one year 25 incredibly amazing, talented people applied. Then they would all be admitted. Another year, only one. Then that year only one would be admitted.

But so long as it doesn't work this way, and it doesn't, the statistics do matter. They tell you something about the chance that EVEN if you are stellar, you will still not have a place at that program.


(This post was edited by aiyamei on Nov 25, 2008, 8:11 PM)


symmetrical


Nov 25, 2008, 10:31 PM

Post #311 of 1018 (16677 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

I'm an undergrad creative writing major at a school with a pretty highly ranked MFA program, and have been told by my thesis advisor, and the co-director of the program, that when MFA applications come in, certain faculty members refuse to read personal statements, and only pick based on the writing sample. I also was told that an applicant was admitted due to the content of their story, (circuses and their employees) even though it "wasn't as polished or well-written as some of the other stories, just because I like circuses."


moomoocow42


Nov 25, 2008, 11:55 PM

Post #312 of 1018 (16656 views)
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     Re: [symmetrical] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I'm an undergrad creative writing major at a school with a pretty highly ranked MFA program, and have been told by my thesis advisor, and the co-director of the program, that when MFA applications come in, certain faculty members refuse to read personal statements, and only pick based on the writing sample. I also was told that an applicant was admitted due to the content of their story, (circuses and their employees) even though it "wasn't as polished or well-written as some of the other stories, just because I like circuses."


Yikes, that's frightening. The idea that just because a professor likes circuses he should choose a certain story over another seems kind of ridiculous to me. Maybe it was an attempt to be sarcastic or silly -- I'm sure the story was a worthy one for some characteristic other than its circus-related content, I mean, we're potentially talking about tens of thousands of funding dollars at stake here -- but the idea just makes me nervous. Then again, it doesn't take much to make me nervous about the application process...


My MFA Blog -- Watch me slowly lose my sanity.

(This post was edited by moomoocow42 on Nov 26, 2008, 12:00 AM)


Mikielg
Mikiel Ghelieh

Nov 26, 2008, 2:58 AM

Post #313 of 1018 (16625 views)
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     Re: [moomoocow42] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

I'm sorry to have to jump in here, but I wanted to through my thoughts out there for you all. I have a former teacher from my undergrad who is a near and dear friend of mine. My friend in the last few years has become the Director of an MFA program. I was told by this person who reads applications and is writing me a letter of recommendation, as well as editing my manuscript that there are a few things that programs look for. In this order: manuscript, SOP, letters of recommendation, grades. The manuscript is number one, after that if there are a number of applicants who need to be reevaluated then they look at everything else. Such things like desire to write and ability to succeed in graduate work. So if youíre worried about the latter it sounds like youíre banking on mediocre. Send your best work and the cream will rise to the top. Focus on your writing. Oh I was also told that grades and GREís mean little to nothing as long as you have a 2.0 or better you sound be fine.


pernicus


Nov 26, 2008, 11:59 AM

Post #314 of 1018 (16576 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

James Franco here,

And Im gunning for ALL of your spots


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Nov 26, 2008, 12:43 PM

Post #315 of 1018 (16552 views)
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     Re: [pernicus] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

I'm still laughing at this thread! And, Raysen, do tell! Inquiring minds are dying to know. :)

Jeanne
http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


mvalente


Nov 26, 2008, 3:26 PM

Post #316 of 1018 (16515 views)
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     Re: [jlgwriter] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

I forgot to mention -- James Franco has a role in Sean Penn's movie "Milk".

I also wouldn't worry about Raysen's uniqueness -- in every batch of applicants, there are going to be candidates whose parents or family members graduated from the school, have letters of recommendations from well-known writers, received magna cum laude honors or were Rhodes Scholar finalists as undergrads, and traveled the globe in some capacity -- Peace Corps, Teach for America, duty in Iraq, etc. Inevitably, many candidates will have something to bring to the table aside from their stellar writing samples.

Mike


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Nov 26, 2008, 3:27 PM

Post #317 of 1018 (16511 views)
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     Re: [mvalente] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

He's also playing Allen Ginsberg in the movie "Howl" which might better explain his presence at New York Writing Programs...


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


Raysen


Nov 26, 2008, 4:03 PM

Post #318 of 1018 (16497 views)
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     Re: [HollinsMFAer] Re:Progress in the process [In reply to]  

Here's another thing about writing samples: the professional writer who read my work said that overall it was "superb" and "outstanding" and that I was "destined to get into any excellent program you want." But, in his markup of one of my strongest writing samples,he made a little comment along the lines of "go back and take out all the fillers" That made me question my work a bit, because I thought there wasn't much more to do. So, I went back and reread it. And you know what, I found things...little things and big things...that needed fixing. I rewrote entire pages, amplified the theme a bit here and there, took out extraneous words and sentences, added more characterizations throughout, fleshed out minor characters a bit, and the whole product became much much better. It was the 14th revision. It got to a stage where I was really enjoying reading what I had written. That, I guess, is a good test: whether you can read and reread your work without getting sick of it. If the work gets to the point where it doesn't read like something I wrote, if I can't picture myself writing those words, then I'm getting close to completion.

Lesson to be learned: You have to go through your writing sample with a fine-toothed comb, even if for the umpteenth time. It's been said here over and over again...WRITING SAMPLE, WRITING SAMPLE, WRITING SAMPLE.


(This post was edited by Raysen on Nov 26, 2008, 4:08 PM)


v1ctorya


Nov 27, 2008, 8:16 PM

Post #319 of 1018 (16414 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Re: [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Raysen,

Would an MFA program reject Bono? I don't know, ask James Franco. He's at NYU. Possibly it was his first choice.

...

Possibly it was.

S.



It's my understanding that he's going to Columbia AND NYU, because Columbia is way better known for writing (when it comes to film ) and NYU for film production, but he's definately enrolled in the Columbia MFA writing program (apparently, he has some playwriting to his name already).

and for 'unique' boy, uhm, hate to break it to you, but everyone really is unique, have uniquey-freaky life experiences. but if it makes you feel better going into this uncertain process to trump yourself up as more unique, then by all means, have fun. and if you get the acceptance letter that says, "well, we liked your writing sample but damn, you were like bono in your uniqueness, to such a degree that we had to have you" than feel free to call me on it later.

as for teh circus story - a little too late on that, as I decided against my circus tale for the application. Makes me rethink my writing sample and taking out of my SOP the whole thing about being the cat faced girl until age 16 when I ran away with someone who knew electrolisis and then ended up doing back alley plastic surgery to realign my ears to give me a more human look.

I kept the tail though, it's quite useful, just gets caught in the subway doors on occassion.


Katevey


Nov 28, 2008, 11:32 AM

Post #320 of 1018 (16361 views)
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     Re: [v1ctorya] Re: [In reply to]  

Ok, ok! I'll add one! Brooke Shield to in to Princeton with a GUARANTEE she would not flunk out of any classes because of her Hollywood stardom; there's still whining and moaning about it. Hollywooders are just legacy babies without the family money (although her biological father could have gotten her in, too.) It's the way of the world. In business, legacy babies flood management positions, as an undergrad they were guaranteed part of the Bell curve A's and B's and you competed for the left-overs. Those same people will be in the golden chair positions in publishing companies, too. The "mentor" programs to usher people into high-paying corporate positions have opened a fraction to be p.c. but only to the a small extent. It's just the way it is. I had one in a class that would have struggled at any community college but he got a B in the class.

It might be nice to know you got in on real talent but that's a line for a fairy tale. I can't apply to U. Chicago, Ohio, U. Tx.-Michener or U. Ill because I can't make the app fees until January. That's life.


Katevey


Nov 28, 2008, 12:38 PM

Post #321 of 1018 (16340 views)
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     Re: [Katevey] Re: [In reply to]  

Will just add that I had really wanted to apply to Brown; though they have an application fee waiver form - many schools do, considering the many aspects of moving, living there and all that goes with it, I decided against it. It's a great program with many "perks" from being at Brown for all who get in.


germericanqt


Nov 28, 2008, 12:47 PM

Post #322 of 1018 (16334 views)
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     And they're off! [In reply to]  

Mailed my applications on Wednesday.

Godspeed, little apps. Godspeed.


v1ctorya


Nov 28, 2008, 2:58 PM

Post #323 of 1018 (16307 views)
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     Re: [Katevey] Re: [In reply to]  

To add to the "celebrity status gives you special priveleges" thing, One of the kids from Boy Meets World was in some writing program, but from purrrsonal experience, when I was at Columbia there was an uproar over the waiting list because apparently it leaked out that the school decided to give open spots to those who wouldn't need financial need. Suddenly posters were plastered all over about some Saved by the Bell the New Class actor who got in because he agreed to pay for the tuition and not ask for aid in any way/shape or form.

Also, I was a scholarship student there, no connections. And when I ran into a group of these priveleged talking about how their money was paying for others that didn't belong in their society (and actually,t hey were in my study group and we were friends, they just had no idea I was one of 'those types' of poor person) I thanked them, because if they didn't pay the school wouldn't have had teh money to give me to go. of course, the look on their faces was priceless.

So then the question becomes, if a school does admit someone for their name if they agree to pay, how does it bother the rest of us? I mean, schools need to get funding from somewhere. It's a business after all.

And good luck to those of us in the final stretch of applications! I'm just wait for one more recommender to get back to me about a finished letter and off goes the mailings!


__________



Nov 28, 2008, 3:36 PM

Post #324 of 1018 (16301 views)
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     Re: [v1ctorya] Re: [In reply to]  

Wait -- first of all, was it Boy Meets World, or Saved By The Bell: The New Class!? Because Boy Meets World was in every way superior. (Topanga will always have a free ride in my heart).

Secondly, the issue under discussion wasn't whether a school should admit only those who can pay vs. those who require aid; the issue was whether a school should admit the under-qualified simply because they're famous -- or in these pathetic examples, marginally famous. In your example it sounds like the guy just happened to be on the career-killing Saved By The Bell: The New Class!. (And was this the undergrad or MFA writing program? And was it even at Columbia?)

What's weird, though, is that Columbia uses its MFA program as a cash cow in general. It's not a matter of some rich folks subsidizing fellow writing students; it's rich folks and middle class folks lining Columbia's pockets to the tune of, what, $75, 000? For a useless arts degree? That's been the traditional complaint against Columbia.

But getting back to your experience, I still have to take fault with something. Columbia does have the money to send poor kidz there, regardless of how many rich, inbred, hydrocephalic George Bush -types they admit. The may charge you billions to go there, but they don't actually pay billions for teachers and rent. Far from it.


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 28, 2008, 3:39 PM)


Mikielg
Mikiel Ghelieh

Nov 29, 2008, 12:29 AM

Post #325 of 1018 (16236 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re: [In reply to]  

Junior Maas

I've been lurking on this site for a while now and have written on here a few times. I just wanted to let you know a few things. I'v agreed with most things you've said on here and appreciae your insight. I agree totally that Columbia's a cash cow and that there are people who go their simply because than can afford to. I also agree with you that they can afford to fund more people than they do. What I do not apprecite is your hydrocephalic comment. As a person who has lived with it and thrieved for 25 years I take offense to it. In the future might I suggest watching what you post on here.

Mikiel G


insertbrackets

e-mail user

Nov 29, 2008, 12:46 AM

Post #326 of 1018 (16453 views)
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     Re: [Mikielg] Re: [In reply to]  

Hello all,

I am new here, but deeply embroiled in the application process and just wanted to note (I suppose for more than just the sake of notation) the programs I am applying to in an effort to commiserate and communicate with my fellow applyers! Any information I can get would be very helpful, particularly on Oregon, which seems to have fallen off the wagon, poetry-wise, so to speak. Any particulars you have on that situation would be great!

My programs:
  • Brown University
  • Cornell University
  • Indiana University
  • Ohio State University
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Florida
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin
This is all, of course, for poetry. I am about halfway through getting everything out. Still need to order a few more transcripts and stuff. How is everyone else doing?


Who told you I was a racist? Was it...a minority?
-T-Rex, qwantz.com Dinosaur Comics


unsaid78


Nov 29, 2008, 3:25 AM

Post #327 of 1018 (16442 views)
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     Re: [insertbrackets] Re: [In reply to]  

Hey Insertbrackets!

Nice list!

I'm also applying for poetry to a few of the same schools you listed. Oregon was on my early list but I decided not to apply since Dorianne Laux left and I was told that the weather is often rainy lol.

I plan to have all my application fees paid this coming week and hope to be totally done with my part of the application process at that point.

Just wanted to say hello and wish you good luck in this process!


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


insertbrackets

e-mail user

Nov 29, 2008, 3:30 AM

Post #328 of 1018 (16440 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] Re: [In reply to]  

Thanks for the kudos unsaid. Oregon is on shaky ground with me now, since Garrett Hongo seems to cause more trouble than he's worth, based on a few forums I have read on this site. I am now considering Houston and ASU to replace that spot. If anyone has any other suggestions, I'm all ears!


Who told you I was a racist? Was it...a minority?
-T-Rex, qwantz.com Dinosaur Comics


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Nov 29, 2008, 10:01 AM

Post #329 of 1018 (16428 views)
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     Re: [insertbrackets] Re: [In reply to]  

I don't know what the funding situation is like, but if you're a Dorrianne Laux fan, consider NC State. That's where she moved...plus they have John Balaban...and he's freaking amazing. The fact that he hasn't won a national book award is beyond me...

But I guess funding is probably priority number 1. You'd think at a big state school like State they'd have it...it might be they haven't caught on yet. But as soon as they do, I imagine NC State will be one of the top poetry programs in the country.

Edit: I hear Houston is amazing for PhD program, but it's tiered, so they PhD kids get a lot more attention than the MFAs. That, and I'm fairly sure I heard Doty is heading to greener pasture (with his National Book Award in hand). But Hoagland and Nick Flynn are nothing to sneeze at.


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com

(This post was edited by HollinsMFAer on Nov 29, 2008, 10:03 AM)


v1ctorya


Nov 29, 2008, 10:30 AM

Post #330 of 1018 (16419 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re: [In reply to]  


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Wait -- first of all, was it Boy Meets World, or Saved By The Bell: The New Class!? Because Boy Meets World was in every way superior. (Topanga will always have a free ride in my heart).

Secondly, the issue under discussion wasn't whether a school should admit only those who can pay vs. those who require aid; the issue was whether a school should admit the under-qualified simply because they're famous -- or in these pathetic examples, marginally famous. In your example it sounds like the guy just happened to be on the career-killing Saved By The Bell: The New Class!. (And was this the undergrad or MFA writing program? And was it even at Columbia?)

What's weird, though, is that Columbia uses its MFA program as a cash cow in general. It's not a matter of some rich folks subsidizing fellow writing students; it's rich folks and middle class folks lining Columbia's pockets to the tune of, what, $75, 000? For a useless arts degree? That's been the traditional complaint against Columbia.

But getting back to your experience, I still have to take fault with something. Columbia does have the money to send poor kidz there, regardless of how many rich, inbred, hydrocephalic George Bush -types they admit. The may charge you billions to go there, but they don't actually pay billions for teachers and rent. Far from it.



apparently, both went there. I just looked up rider Strong, who I knew wrote, and he has some published poetry and went to Columbia. While I was there though, the controversy was over a saved by the bell: the new class person. that year news leaked that the PTB decided to call up potential students and ask if they needed financial aid. Those who promised to pay, they were admitted over those that didn't - note, this was off of the wait-list. which would makr the SBTB guy undergrad

But of course, it's beginning to sound like we're all getting high-horsey here, sounding like we think someone who acts can't also write, or are underqualified?

and columbia has money to send poor kids there because they get a lot of money from the rich ones. And they own a lot of land, and other stuffs.


Mikielg
Mikiel Ghelieh

Nov 29, 2008, 12:29 PM

Post #331 of 1018 (16392 views)
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That's a very good list. Might I suggest Syracuse as an option. I lived there last year with a 3rd year MFAr in Fiction, so I got a peak at the program from the inside. It is a great program three years the last year is sent mainly on writining. The people are great. Mary Karr is very nice even if your not in the program she was willing to talk to you about it. They have some great reading that go on very often. If you do decide on it Arthur Flowers is a professor on the fiction side and she gives in my option one of the best performances I have ever seen. He does not read his book at all, you can't tell when she actually begins his reading. He is so fluid from the intoduction to the end. how he is not internationally famous is beyond me. Oh and if all this isn't enough they have the George Saunders, all these people I mentioned are approachable and will talk to you. They will be there teaching the classes, not just in name alone. If you want to know more please feel free to ask me.

Mikel
P.S. The winters are pretty terrible every other year. Last year wasn't bad, this year is pretty terrible. The good news is they are great at clearing the roads. If you've ever lived in a snowy place you will be fine.


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e-mail user

Nov 29, 2008, 4:28 PM

Post #332 of 1018 (16351 views)
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     Re: [Mikielg] Re: [In reply to]  

I have not lived in snow, but strongly, strongly desire to as I live in the desert where the irrepressible heat never fails to upset me. As far as the cold goes, my part of the desert gets that too. Some snow would offer a much needed break from all the sand I am used to seeing. If I wanted to stick around here, I'd apply to Irvine (a great program, but waaaay to close to home).


Who told you I was a racist? Was it...a minority?
-T-Rex, qwantz.com Dinosaur Comics


insertbrackets

e-mail user

Nov 29, 2008, 8:03 PM

Post #333 of 1018 (16310 views)
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Also, I just found out that Mark Doty is leaving Houston and heading to Rutgers this fall. So if you were applying to Houston and he was the reason, you might want to change your plans.


Who told you I was a racist? Was it...a minority?
-T-Rex, qwantz.com Dinosaur Comics


aiyamei

e-mail user

Nov 29, 2008, 11:29 PM

Post #334 of 1018 (16273 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re: [In reply to]  

Also I would have to say: you're talking straight out of your ass, so far as Columbia goes. These places are not businesses, nobody's getting rich. If someone is not funded, then someone else is. Just how it goes.


__________



Nov 30, 2008, 12:57 AM

Post #335 of 1018 (16260 views)
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     Re: [aiyamei] Re: [In reply to]  

I'm not exactly spouting crazy original ideas here; these criticisms are heard not just from Columbia students, but Columbia professors.

Schools are run like businesses. Columbia's writing program has low overhead and a huge markup. They charge $75, 000. For an MFA! About ten times what other schools charge. And they admit, what, 25 students per class? Up to three, four, five times the number of students at other programs.

Just because no one's getting rich -- or there's no CEO in a sharkskin suit with like a pinkie ring and a money clip or something -- doesn't mean it's not a cash cow. It is. They are in the business of fleecing rich dilettantes to fund various other programs.

Ooh -- and it costs -- or rather, they charge -- $75 to apply. Three times the cost of most everywhere else.

We can quibble over the word 'business', but really? You're don't see any red flags on the field?


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 30, 2008, 1:01 AM)


__________



Nov 30, 2008, 1:14 AM

Post #336 of 1018 (16255 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re: [In reply to]  

Double ooh -- even if we're real generous and imagine only 15 people (or 60% of students) pay full price, that is...let's see...15 times $75, 000...

$1, 125, 000 they're raking in from each graduating class.

Over one million dollars!

(Hint: they are not paying Sam Lipsyte one million dollars).


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Nov 30, 2008, 1:53 AM

Post #337 of 1018 (16237 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re: [In reply to]  

I am going to jump in here and agree with you Junior Maas. Columbia University is a true blue racket. With their tremendous endowment and numerous wealthy alumni, it seems ludicrous that they cannot find sufficient funding for even a third of their students (and if, in fact, they do, then they need to consider rethinking their marketing techniques). Initially Columbia seemed like the most attractive option for me until I tabulated the price tag and lack of resources. Most NYC programs are like this, but Hunter and Brooklyn have cheaper tuition, and NYU offers some assistance (and in some cases A LOT of assistance) to their students. Columbia does not. And it seems like it is trying to evolve into a three year program. Crazy. Tracy K. Smith put it bluntly: There are three kinds of people who go to Columbia: the rich, the extraordinarily rich, and the financially irresponsible.


Who told you I was a racist? Was it...a minority?
-T-Rex, qwantz.com Dinosaur Comics


mvalente


Nov 30, 2008, 1:56 AM

Post #338 of 1018 (16235 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Re: [In reply to]  

The advantage to being an MFA student at Columbia is that you're surrounded by the publishing giants and the majority of many literary agents, including international agents. I'd bet that literary agents attend the readings of Columbia MFAers, and since so much of the publishing industry is executed via handshakes and personal relationships, that's vital. I can imagine a conversation that goes like this:

Agent: So according to your intro, you've traveled extensively...
MFAer: I actually served in Iraq (did Peach Corp, etc)
Agent: Do you think that you can write a non-fiction book?...and I'll take a look at it?

And while I'm not privy to Columbia's finances, I'm guessing that much of their revenue generated from tuition goes to paying city taxes just for being in NYC. Possibly compensating faculty for cost of living. So if they need tenured profs to teach each graduating class, that million bucks is paid out as operating expenses.

Also, MFA programs in small towns serve as economic hubs for businesses, stimulating the local economy, employing local laborers, etc. I imagine that historically, NYC has not relied on Columbia for generating business. This last point is a wild guess, though.

Mike Valente


__________



Nov 30, 2008, 2:14 AM

Post #339 of 1018 (16232 views)
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People often make this point: that Columbia is worth the fleece because you get to hobnob with agents. New York literary agents!. That the suits have a soft spot for Columbia grads...

Setting aside for the moment what a ridiculous blow to your self-esteem it must be to realize you just paid $75 K to chat with an agent --

Damn you, codeine, you've lost my train of thought!

-- setting that aside, I still don't think it's anything to bank on. Think of the few impressive folks Columbia's produced this last decade (none of my complaints are against the actual teachers or students), and remember: 25 students per class! As with every program, the vast majority of students are not going anywhere but to their ATM. Who knows how that $75,000 conversation you had will pay off five, ten, fifteen years down the line as you're still struggling to repay your loans.

Anyway. I'm not a class warrior or anything. The price, their business practices, just strike me as highly dubious. The one person I know who did go to Columbia MFA -- a sweet girl, a rich girl -- well, funny thing, she only thought she was rich, poor girl, before Columbia -- was super connected. Her daddy got her a sinecure at a big publishing house right out of undergrad. She met a big famous author who wrote her rec letters. She was one of the 25. And -- I don't know if this is typical -- but she did hobnob with some other young, rich, connected agent-y types at Columbia. She was elated. For weeks. But in the end, it didn't amount to anything. You still got to have mad skillz and super luck, I guess.

Now her trust fund's gone and she's got LOANS to repay. She advised me to save my application fee.


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 30, 2008, 2:23 AM)


v1ctorya


Nov 30, 2008, 12:53 PM

Post #340 of 1018 (16162 views)
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I have not lived in snow, but strongly, strongly desire to as I live in the desert where the irrepressible heat never fails to upset me. As far as the cold goes, my part of the desert gets that too. Some snow would offer a much needed break from all the sand I am used to seeing. If I wanted to stick around here, I'd apply to Irvine (a great program, but waaaay to close to home).



Be careful what you wish for!

I miss my AZ homeland and the desert. I've lived in NY for far too long now, and know syracuse, it's a tundra man, barren cold industrial wasteland (save, perhaps, the area around the Uni) I used to have to go out there for 'stuffs' and I'll never forget the LAST time I made the trip, the train doors froze open, snow was blowing in down the aisles.

Never again, for me. I want the sand blasting me instead.


Dovlatov


Dec 2, 2008, 1:00 PM

Post #341 of 1018 (16031 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Flobelle

Your comments on this board are mostly obnoxious. They reveal your immaturity and insecurity. You are a reader for a "competitive" journal, you say (over and over and over). That means you know something? Guess what? I am an editor for a major university review. So are other people on this board. Read the posts instead of talking out of your ass.

YOU ARE NOT AN EXCEPTION.


HollinsMFAer
Luke Johnson


Dec 2, 2008, 1:19 PM

Post #342 of 1018 (16021 views)
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     Re: [Dovlatov] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

This seems unnecessarily argumentative. Yes, flobelle's comments are frustrating, given that she asks for advice then seems to ignore it. But it's the internet, it's very easy to not read comments if they bother you. I'd let sleeping dogs lie. I think anyone who reads these posts with any sort of regularity can discern who's worth listening to and who's not.


http://www.lukejohnsonpoetry.com


Dovlatov


Dec 2, 2008, 1:29 PM

Post #343 of 1018 (16009 views)
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     Re: [HollinsMFAer] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

You're probably right, HollinsMFAer, but I think it's important that new readers of this board recognize when they are being misinformed. I also feel insulted by her comments on behalf of some of the posters here. I'm entitled to express this.

I'm happy to drop it at this point.


flobelle


Dec 2, 2008, 2:10 PM

Post #344 of 1018 (15967 views)
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     Re: [Dovlatov] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

I'd be interested to know what a "major university literary review" means. Because I'm pretty sure I work for the same, and I'm not sure what your point is in saying this. Yes, plenty of people work for reviews. If you wanted, you could contribute your expertise. But you seem hellbent on being rude instead.

A lot of people who send submissions to our journal do so incorrectly, because they send material unsuited to our review (or to literary magazines in general) or because they seem to believe that their list of e-zine or small publications in fiction (most of which nobody in the office has ever heard of) will contribute towards winning one or another of us over. A lot of the people who do this have MFA degrees, even, and others don't. I think that contributing to this board is a way that we can provide accurate information about submitting to literary journals so as to increase publication and prevent people from wasting their time or ours in submitting unnecessarily.

I decided not to apply to an MFA program because I decided the MFA wasn't what I was after. I spoke with my friends (who are currently in MFA programs) about the MFA process rather than continuing to consult a number of strangers who are unaware of the particulars of my situation. They agree that it's not what I should pursue at this time, or likely ever.

And HollinsMFAer is right: if you don't like what I write, you don't have to say anything.


mvalente


Dec 2, 2008, 3:10 PM

Post #345 of 1018 (15934 views)
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