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HopperFu


Jan 8, 2007, 9:41 AM

Post #226 of 764 (14696 views)
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Re: [augustmaria] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, it's not actually - at least in my case - a slight against Indiana. And I'm not sure that it's riduculously overranked, but rather that it's hard to justify putting Iowa fifteen or whatever spots lower than any school.
As far as Indiana goes, it was actually on my list of top-ten schools that I was going to apply to.
I've heard that once your class graduates it will be an awesome place! You guys are really dragging it down. ;)


blueragtop


Jan 8, 2007, 1:07 PM

Post #227 of 764 (14656 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

The "Kealey Scale" isn't bad, but ultimately, I agree with HopperFu. I can't take it seriously when Iowa isn't ranked in the top 10. Sorry, there aren't 10 or 11 programs that are better than Iowa. I just don't buy it. Funding is the probably the most important factor for me, and I still included Iowa in my list. Iowa is probably the only school I would go to if I got it, but wasn't totally funded. They give all their students instate tuition and I think that shows a lot of commitment on their part. I don't care what anyone says, it's still one of the top 3 programs in the nation.

It's also unfair to compare Iowa to program like Columbia. In my opinion, and it's just my opinion, Columbia is a cashcow. They seems to be great businessmen over there. They draw people in the with the Columbia brand name and with the big name faculty, and then you have loans for the rest of your life. I've given Columbia some credit on this board, but let's be honest, what that program does to students funding-wise is ridiculous. Yeah, Sam Lipsyte is cool and all, but if I'm going 60 grand in debt or possibly more, I need a little more than Sammy Lipsyte or Ben Marcus. Maybe if they bring Ray Carver back from the dead...Sorry, I just can't respect a school that doesn't respect the craft. In my opinion, making "writers", people who have made a commitment to art, pay absurd amounts of money is borderline ridiculous. Its simple: Columbia is expensive and they bring a ton of students every year. They want to make money. If you're a trust fund baby, that's cool, but I don't think many people on this board know Ted Turner or Rupert Murdoch.

The Columbia people always need to justify their program. And if I was going there, I'd be justifying it too. For that kind of money, I'll convince myself it's worth it too. I respect schools that put their money where their mouth is. Writing is important to them, so they make a financial investment.


ApollosQ


Jan 8, 2007, 1:12 PM

Post #228 of 764 (14651 views)
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Re: [jargreen] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Now, this is useful. People's opinions on faculty. Breakdowns like this are something I would've loved to see 2 months ago. Ryan, it appears you defiinitely did better research than I did.

Realizing the hotness of Arizona State's student body might've come in handy too. But hey, their deadline is Jan. 15, so there's still time!


In Reply To
I love this question, renapoo. I truly believe that the people make the program. We’re all getting sick of these lists, but here’s a list of fiction faculties I’d already put together to help me narrow ‘em down. Ryan




umass76


Jan 8, 2007, 1:45 PM

Post #229 of 764 (14633 views)
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Re: [melos] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Guys,

I think I can explain the defensiveness. It's not just the fact that I spent time on this, though obviously I'd be lying if I failed to acknowledge that compiling Kealey's observations into a ranking was time-intensive. More importantly, though, you have to look at it this way: look at the constant, on-going firestorm the USNWR rankings have been. For years. In every field, educators have issued public statements as to the validity (generally or mathematically) of the rankings, in some cases refused to participate in the information-gathering stage of the USNWR process, have advised prospective students to ignore the rankings, and so on. Every ranking USNWR has ever done has been controversial in the world of education, and controversial with a capital "C."

When I set out to compile a new ranking of MFA programs--largely because, to be frank, people were absolutely begging for one (though having gotten one--as anyone could have been predicted--now no one is satisfied)--I knew that I actually had far more controversy ahead of me, in a sense, than U.S. News. Obviously not in terms of volume (this thread's had about 2,500 views since 12/31, yet of course I don't think the debate is much, much larger than that) but in terms of degree of controversy. For three major reasons:

a) While Tom Kealey may have literally written the book on MFA programs, he's not a cultural touchstone/institution as USNWR is;

b) I don't have the resources, nor does Kealey, to make these rankings the product of a comprehensive scientific methodology; and, most importatly,

c) artists, unlike practitioners of most other crafts/professions/what have you, don't believe anything can be ranked, ever, and believe process and methodology and math and ranking are an anathema to Art.

So, sure, I geared up for a major fight here, and--knowing I would be the only person to defend the rankings against the inevitable onslaught--I set my tone accordingly. The notion that you can be facing the natural opposition to ranking which exists across all fields (that even USNWR experiences), plus have the three handicaps articulated above, and then congenially and casually and even flippantly discuss new rankings is simply unrealistic. It's my "job"--because I posted the rankings, and I knew I would be the only one to defend them as legitimate if it came to that--to have responses ready for the false information and false arguments which I knew these rankings would face. For instance, while I have said repeatedly that I personally think Iowa should be well within the top ten MFA programs in the country, I have also been forced to correct those who would

a) misstate Iowa's funding scheme or the availability of in-state tuition for first-year students,

b) refuse to acknowledge that some of Iowa's reputation is based on the 1997 rankings, making (if we're not careful) its continued ascendance a veritable fait accompli, and

c) misstate, as just happened in this thread, silly little easily-checked facts like whether

i. TKS says Iowa is "fifteen or whatever spots lower than any school" (it doesn't, it says there are 11 schools ahead in the rankings, and then acknowledges that if funding is not a major issue for you, you can bump Iowa up into the Top 10),

ii. whether Indiana can be said to be "ridiculously high" in TKS, when it's only 11 spots higher than it was in USNWR when no one complained,

iii. whether you can call a ranking "ridiculous" because you think Iowa should be "in the top five" and TKS has it a mere seven spots lower, with the suggestion that readers of the rankings should close that gap if funding isn't an issue for them, and

iv. whether you can criticize TKS for putting Indiana at #5 and then say "it was in my top ten schools to apply to," or similar forms of dramatic irony.

If this entire thread establishes one thing, it's that complaints about TKS come down to only three issues:

1. Is Iowa too low?
2. Is Columbia too low?
3. Why isn't the school I personally like, ______________, in there somewhere?

#3 is an issue with every single ranking that's ever been done, and TKS does alright there because the only complaints on this note have been from SIU, Illinois, and BGSU students or enthusiasts, and frankly those schools are in the Honorable Mention (rank: #51 to #55) section of the rankings, and everyone concedes these programs are only recent bloomers. Note: because there were 100 MFA programs in 1997, and there are 400 now, being in the top 50 now is far more valuable and meaningful than it ever has been. So, being in the top 50 now is not like being in the top 50 in 1997; folks who complain about where their schools are rankedin TKS don't realize that being in TKS Top 50 is like being in USNWR Top 12.

#1 is a non-starter because everyone--even, in the last few comments, a vocal critic of TKS!--admits that if funding were a major issue for them (as TKS assumes is the case for the "average" prospective student), Iowa wouldn't be/wasn't their top choice, and it would simply be a question of "where" they would slot it in as to the rankings. Those who say Iowa is the clear number one simply reject, wholesale, the premise of TKS, which is that funding matters. Ironically, those who don't like to see Iowa drop are actually okay with Columbia (and fifteen other schools in TKS) dropping for the very same reason (i.e. funding), and usually by the same (or a much higher!) amount than Iowa did.

#2 is not a little bit hilarious because only Columbia students seem to be defending Columbia. Everyone else just comes on here to explain why they couldn't afford to apply there--thereby reiterating/reifying (even while complaining about!) the valuation done by TKS. If you won't apply to Columbia, stop saying it "absolutely" deserves to be a top five school. What you're really saying, in effect, is that while funding is an issue for you, you don't ever want to see rankings in which the ranking system presumes that other prospective MFA students are just like you and care about funding, too.

C'mon! That is ridiculous.

S.


HopperFu


Jan 8, 2007, 2:31 PM

Post #230 of 764 (14608 views)
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Re: [umass76] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
I think I can explain the defensiveness....

we all know you put a lot of time in, and that's appreciated, but the problem is that your reactions are usually precipitate and though verbose and well written, tend to indicate that you are not actually considering challenges to your ranking system


Quote
this thread's had about 2,500 views since 12/31....


they aren't unique hits. each hit by every user is counted. I'm probably responsible for 100 hits on my own. I'm doubtful that there are more than, say, 150 people reading this.


Quote
So, sure, I geared up for a major fight here, and--knowing I would be the only person to defend the rankings against the inevitable onslaught--I set my tone accordingly.


Um, often when you are the ONLY person defending something, it means you are wrong. And tone begets tone.


Quote
...the false information and false arguments...
... misstate, as just happened in this thread, silly little easily-checked facts like whether ... TKS says Iowa is "fifteen or whatever spots lower than any school" (it doesn't, it says there are 11 schools ahead in the rankings, and then acknowledges that if funding is not a major issue for you, you can bump Iowa up into the Top 10),

um, I think that implied in the use of the word "whatever," is that I didn't take the trouble to actually check where it is ranked. And we're almost all reacting to where you, umass76, ranked schools (though you've based them somewhat on Kealey)


Quote
misstate Iowa's funding scheme or the availability of in-state tuition for first-year students,


Iowa students on this board have repeatedly said that funding - in varying degrees and amounts with varying responsibilities - is available to all students


Quote
refuse to acknowledge that some of Iowa's reputation is based on the 1997 rankings, making (if we're not careful) its continued ascendance a veritable fait accompli, and

dude, check the history books. Iowa's reputation as the top school started way back when Flannery O'Connor was part of the faculty. Way the hell before 1997. If they stay there is going to be dependant on Lan Samantha Chang. Not much of anything else.


Quote
[Hopperfu is wrong because he criticizes] TKS for putting Indiana at #5 and then says "it was in my top ten schools to apply to," or similar forms of dramatic irony.

um, again, I think I made it quite clear in my post that there are a number of criteria for ranking, and that it was in MY top ten list. For a number of reasons, location and funding were extremely important to me, and past my top three schools, quality of life became paramount.


Quote
If this entire thread establishes one thing, it's that complaints about TKS come down to only three issues:

1. Is Iowa too low?
2. Is Columbia too low?
3. Why isn't the school I personally like, ______________, in there somewhere?

I'd agree with number 3. We all think that wherever we are going is the best. But the other two numbers are more symptomatic of problems than the actual problems themselves.


Quote
#1 is a non-starter because everyone ... admits that if funding were a major issue for them ... Iowa wouldn't be/wasn't their top choice....


Iowa has funding. Not for everybody, and not in the same amount. And it is a school that people are often willing to go into debt for. Regardless, most people apply there because it is the/a top school, and most people hope they are admitted with funding


Quote
...Those who say Iowa is the clear number one simply reject, wholesale, the premise of TKS, which is that funding matters...

Again, no. You are rejecting wholesale what everybody keeps saying: Iowa has funding. It is tiered, but it exists.
And while funding matters, IT ISN'T EVERYTHING! If it was, we'd all be going to law school. Hell, if funding was everything than Cornell would be the easy #1 and Michener would probably be a consensus #2


Quote
If you won't apply to Columbia, stop saying it "absolutely" deserves to be a top five school. What you're really saying, in effect, is that while funding is an issue for you, you don't ever want to see rankings in which the ranking system presumes that other prospective MFA students are just like you and care about funding, too.

In my book, Columbia's major problems are funding AND location. But they have an amazing faculty. For some people - in fact, quite a few people on this board - funding is not an issue. If you love New York and you have money in some form, Columbia is worth looking at. I'm not sure where it should be ranked, but they get something like 50 students a year, so there are obviously enough MFA students who don't care about funding. [Edited to add: I would say, if you've got the money and are willing to live in NYC, than you need to look at Columbia. Big 'ifs' for some people]



So here's the basic problem, umass76: you've spent a whole bunch of time making this ranking system, and because of it, you are defending it - and its results - regardless of what other people say. Okay, so you moved Iowa, but doesn't that in itself show that the ranking system you came up with is flawed?
Reputation matters. Funding matters. Faculty matters. What the alumni/current students think (in terms of both effectiveness and happyness) matters.
You can't rank based on location, sorry (though Gary, Indiana would probably rank low for everybody). I can't live in New York. Clench can't leave it behind.
Again, though, rankings will really depend on WHY somebody wants to go to an MFA program. If you just want time to write, a program with great no-strings-attached funding is the place to go. If you want reputation and publishing contacts and have money, Columbia. If you want to work with Pulitzer Prize winning writers, Iowa's not a bed bet (though I'm guessing they'll retire soon enough).
All this ranking should be is a starting point for people to start making their lists of schools to apply to. A more realistic list would include caveats:
Iowa (but funding can vary and cause a sense of competition. People love it or hate it)
Columbia (NYC, you'll almost certainly go into debt, huge admitted class, but access to publishing scene)
Cornell (incredible funding, great support, extremely hard to get in, only a few big name faculty)

But whatever. One of the reasons I've mostly stayed out of this is because I don't really care. I already made my choice.
And it doesn't matter where we rank anything: the rankings are going to rise or fall mostly because of the publications of students and alumni. That's the bottom line. Whatever school you go to, umass76, whether it's ranked 1 or 400, is going to get a huge bump if you win the Pulitzer...


(This post was edited by HopperFu on Jan 8, 2007, 2:35 PM)


HopperFu


Jan 8, 2007, 3:11 PM

Post #231 of 764 (14590 views)
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Not trying to sound churlish... [In reply to] Can't Post

By the way, umass76, I'm not trying to attack you, though I'm sure I sound churlish in parts.
I guess my big concern with this is that for the people who do go on P&W looking for advice, I worry when I feel they are being given what I feel is hurtful advice. We all look to rankings as a way to figure out which of the 400 schools to apply to. I think it is much more harmful when we underprivilige certain schools than when we overrank others; I'd like to hope that once people actually hear from schools they do the research on their own to figure where to go, but they have to actually apply in the first place.


Clench Million
Charles

Jan 8, 2007, 4:56 PM

Post #232 of 764 (14560 views)
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Re: [umass76] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote

I don't think you answered my question about whether you go to Columbia, and whether that might explain your preference for a ranking which has that school at #4 instead of #16.


As Hopper said, I've hardly been hiding the fact that I go to Columbia (started last fall). I even mentioned in during this discussion. I think it is a little silly too imply that I have some secret twisted motive to disagree with this or that rankings. It isn't like I was born into Columbia and have to defend it out of family honor. I CHOOSE to go to Columbia. I choose to apply because I believed it was one of the best and one of the very best for my situation and I choose to go there over other schools when that time came.

For the record, I've disagreed with TK's rankings since he published them, before I went to Columbia, and my criticisms of it and your KS aren't limited to Columbias placement (in fact, I don't think I ever complained about that. I'm not sure where I would rank Columbia personally. Probalby somewhere between #4 and #16.)

I have more of a problem with Iowa's ranking on that list than Columbia's.


Clench Million
Charles

Jan 8, 2007, 5:25 PM

Post #233 of 764 (14550 views)
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Re: [umass76] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote


If this entire thread establishes one thing, it's that complaints about TKS come down to only three issues:

1. Is Iowa too low?
2. Is Columbia too low?
3. Why isn't the school I personally like, ______________, in there somewhere?

I think you are being quite disingenuous. These are NOT the only complaints, much less the only complaints in this thread. If you are annoyed by people's responses (and your tone and random ad hominems imply such), maybe you should realize that it is annoying for us to have all of substantive points ignored so that you can go on a long defensive rant.

I'm not here, nor is anyone else, to bash you or your list. We are merely providing our own opinions, as this is a community discussion board. It is also a place where MFA hopefuls come to decide where to apply, and I (or jargreen or hopper or whoever) disagree with sometime said, I might want to put my own opinion out there so people can see another side.

Anyway, my big disagreement with the Kealey rankings, and the TKS, is not one of those issues but this:
If the scales only ranked programs with full funding they would make sense, but since they rank programs with partial and low funding, everything gets confused. It is one thing to say "if you need funding, you should apply to these programs" but to rank the QUALITY of programs based in this case with such weight given to funding creates problems after the application stage.

Specifically I mean this: What if you don't get funding at one of these programs with better fundign than Iowa or Columbia or wherever? Kealey ranks weaker programs over stronger programs due to minor changes in funding, but this is irrelevant to someone who doesn't get funding at either or gets equal partial funding at both. I guess I shouldnt' name specific schools, since august is right, writers are sensitive types and I don't want to sound like I'm insulting schools. But virtually no one would choose a school over Iowa if the cost was roughly equal.

This is why I agreed with jargreen, schools should be ranked on other issues and then the individual should sift through them and make their own list based on their funding and location needs.


Quote
#2 is not a little bit hilarious because only Columbia students seem to be defending Columbia....If you won't apply to Columbia, stop saying it "absolutely" deserves to be a top five school.


Wait, which is it? Only Columbia students defending it, or people who won't apply defending it?
FWIW, Tom Kealey himself has said plenty of positive things about the program and claimed that it, alongside Iowa and UCI, was one of the three programs that catch people's attention in the publishing world.


For the record, I don't believe I'm defensive about Columbia in general. The only thing that bothers me and makes me feel defensive is the fact that people act like Columbia is really unique in its bad funding. I dislike the funding situation and I completely see why it would knock the school of many peoples application lists. But it is annoying to see it being the only school brought up to bash for fundign with (as Tom Kealey estimates) about 1/3 of schools have weak to no funding. Even weirder, I see some schools praised for funding that to my knowledge is almost as bad as Columbia's (for example, your KS lists NYU as having "average" funding but Columbia as having "very poor" when they have pretty similar funding. The only difference is NYU fully funds like one or two students a year.) I also believe there is some slight misinformation, as people act like Columbia has zero funding, when this isnt' true. THe funding is very bad, and I won't praise it, but they do give partial funding to a fair amount of students and some lucky few get a TAship and full funding + stipend. Luckily, Ben Marcus is doing some new things to help funding, so this situation should get better quickly.


FinishTag


Jan 8, 2007, 6:06 PM

Post #234 of 764 (14536 views)
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Re: [umass76] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

umass76/Seth

i really enjoy reading your poetry...it's quite good, complex, often entertaining; i think about some of your phrases hours later. While I understand your motivation for compiling "the list", I don't understand your motivation for writing such long-winded defenses of it. Please put all that time energy back into writing poems. The world, at least the poetry-reading world, will be better off for it.


Fear&Loathing


Jan 8, 2007, 8:05 PM

Post #235 of 764 (14509 views)
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Re: [FinishTag] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

  This is the "random" kealey scale. Using the "=randbetween(1,50)" in excel, I have invented a random scale of the USNWR97 cut. The random rankings are to the right of each name. On the left before school names is the kealey scale ranking. Iowa state, Mississippi, Utah, New School, UGA, Florida State and Brooklyn should be considered by last minute appliers.


6. University of Virginia 1 , 7. Syracuse University 1 , 31. University of California at Davis 1 , 46. Iowa State University 3 , 36. University of Mississippi 4 , 12. University of Iowa 5 , 25. University of Wisconsin at Madison 5 , 35. University of Utah 5 , 14. New York University 7 , 49. Texas State University 8 , 26. The New School University 9 , 42. University of Georgia 9 , 19. Florida State University 10 , 43. Brooklyn College 10 , 24. Sarah Lawrence College 11 , t50. Eastern Washington University 12 , 39. George Mason University 14 , 8. Johns Hopkins University 15 , 9. Brown University 17 , t50. University of New Hampshire 18 , 5. Indiana University 22 , 2. University of Texas 23 , 18. University of Oregon 24 , 23. Boston University 24 , 32. University of Pittsburgh 25 , 48. University of North Carolina at Wilmington 26 , 4. Cornell University 27 , 16. Columbia University 27 , 28. University of Arkansas 27 , 29. Penn State University 27 , 21. University of Washington 28 , 3. University of Michigan 29 , 27. University of Arizona 31 , 10. University of Houston 32 , 17. University of Nevada at Las Vegas 32 , t50. University of Cincinnati 32 , 41. Louisiana State University 33 , 20. University of Minnesota 35 , 34. Arizona State University 36 , 15. University of Florida 37 , 44. Purdue University 37 , 47. Colorado State University 37 , 37. University of Notre Dame 38 , 30. Hollins College 40 , 1. University of California at Irvine 42 , 40. University of Maryland 42 , 38. University of North Carolina at Greensboro 45 , 45. Emerson College 45 , 13. University of Massachusetts at Amherst 46 , 22. University of Montana 47 , 11. Washington University at St. Louis 49 , 33. University of Alabama 50 ,


(This post was edited by Fear&Loathing on Jan 8, 2007, 8:19 PM)


gussy

e-mail user

Jan 8, 2007, 8:48 PM

Post #236 of 764 (14489 views)
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Re: [FinishTag] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Hopper Fu sensibly says: "All this ranking should be is a starting point for people to start making their lists of schools to apply to. A more realistic list would include caveats:
Iowa (but funding can vary and cause a sense of competition. People love it or hate it)
Columbia (NYC, you'll almost certainly go into debt, huge admitted class, but access to publishing scene)
Cornell (incredible funding, great support, extremely hard to get in, only a few big name faculty)"


Now, I believe both Umass 76 and Kealey would very much agree with this. I think they even said something along those lines explicitly. Anyway, it doesn't matter who said it first, my point is that both "sides" of this discussion agree with Hopper's words above, and I think that pretty much settles the whole thing, doesn't it? There remains Hopper Fu's worry about the pernicious effects of underranking programs like Iowa. My guess is that given Iowa's prestige, the TKS-based rankings won't hurt it. And I doubt that Iowa's terribly underranked, provided we accept the TKS criteria. Again, you don't think funding should be that important? Iowa immediately bumps into the top 10, or even the top 5 -- and then basically you're going by sheer reputation, which leaves Iowa untouched. (In this connection, Clench has interesting observations about how "funding" is perhaps too coarse-grained a criterion, and maybe it'd be interesting to try to refine that...)

On a slightly different note, I think people might react against the TKS -- or at least against some of its results, e.g., getting Iowa out of the Top 10 -- because they may be thinking of reputation, and not in terms of the other criteria. And if we go by reputation only, then placing Iowa outside the Top 10 is indeed absurd. But again, the TKS doesn't go by reputation only.

One more thing: Hopper: I agree with a lot of what you say, but, Why do you think the TKS would hurt Iowa and potential applicants? Don't you think its reputation is widespread enough? I think it's almost universally known ("universally", well, that's a bit of an exaggeration :); let's say, "within the world of MFAers and prospective MFAers"), within the world of MFAers, then, it's known that the TKS places quite a bit of weight on funding, and that whatever "misplacements" in its ranking (viewed from the perspective of reputation) can be accounted for by funding issues or any of the other TKS criteria. In other words, when TK and the TKS-based rankings made by UMass76 leave Iowa outside of the Top 10, it's widely known that that's because of the caveat you mentioned above -- tiered funding and its resulting competitive atmosphere. So I'm not so sure it'd hurt Iowa or potential MFAers that much. But perhaps I'm missing something?

Anyway, I don't intend to defend UMass76 by saying this, but I think that once we explain the alleged problem of getting Iowa outside the Top 10 (i.e., it should certainly be Top 5 if we go by reputation only; it's alright to get it out of the Top 10 if we accept the TKS criteria and the problems with tiered funding), then I would have thought we'd all agree that the TKS rankings are a very valuable tool that we should all be grateful for. Of course, it's just a tool, and it should be used as a starting point for one's own research, not as some sort of revealed truth. Which brings me back to the quotation of Hopper above. (Then, well, the discussion got sort of derailed because of the tone of UMass76's responses and all that... hey, but come on, let's cut the guy some slack -- he's a lawyer, for goddsake! :))


Fear&Loathing


Jan 8, 2007, 9:09 PM

Post #237 of 764 (14479 views)
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Re: [gussy] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

Agreed, cut the guy some slack. It could be psychosomatic. It could be a dry spell. I like some of his poems. He probably writes like hell fast and rips through those responses faster than Britney Spears throws out her underwear.


(This post was edited by Fear&Loathing on Jan 8, 2007, 9:11 PM)


umass76


Jan 8, 2007, 9:22 PM

Post #238 of 764 (14471 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Lists that actually matter [In reply to] Can't Post

HopperFu,

Clearly, my tone has overwhelmed the substance of what I've said--a circumstance for which I can only blame myself. I know that my tone has overwhelmed my substance because that must be the case, as nothing about the way you've characterized what I've said previously suggests that you actually read what I said in the first instance--at least not with anything but anger, righteous indignation, and/or derision.

"[Your responses] tend to indicate that you are not actually considering challenges to your ranking system."

God, if anything it's the opposite. Anyone reading this thread can see that I've exhaustively attempted to confront any and all "challenges" to Kealey's ranking system in a thorough and thoughtful way. You disagree with what I've said and that's fine; asserting that I'm "not actually considering" your challenges because I disagree with them is specious at best.

"I'm doubtful that there are more than, say, 150 people reading this."

You're probably right. Yet I've also told you (in response to a claim that Kealey wasn't well known) that in just the last week literally hundreds of "unique visitors" (as in, actual unique visitors) have visited the rankings on my site through the link on Kealey's site. That does suggest he gets substantial traffic. Likewise, I've told you that I've had, by now, over 2,000 "unique visitors" to my site since I posted the rankings 7 days ago. Let's be clear: I didn't do this for "hits." But if someone's going to claim that this ranking hasn't or can't generate interest because it's done by a single guy (Kealey) who nobody's heard of, well, I'm telling you that both of those claims are flat-out wrong.

"When you are the only person defending something, it means you are wrong."

Dude, you're saying this to a public defender? I'm the only person defending something every single day: my client. I hope you'll excuse me for not buying into this maxim.

"And tone begets tone."

This I agree with, and my tone's been largely regrettable.

"We're almost all reacting to where you, umass76, ranked schools (though you've based them somewhat on Kealey)."

Actually, all of the major arguments relating to the rankings have centered around the top twenty spots in the rankings, which are very much a product of Kealey's handbook.

"Iowa students on this board have repeatedly said that funding--in varying degrees and amounts with varying responsibilities--is available to all students."

That's great! And I've never said otherwise, either.

What you won't acknowledge is that my comment above wasn't about Iowa not having any funding scheme at all; I was saying that a lot of people have been saying "in-state tuition makes it cheap!" and not informing folks that in-state tuition isn't necessarily available for first-year students. That's all I said. Am I wrong?

"[Quoting me]: 'You refuse to acknowledge that some of Iowa's reputation is based on the 1997 rankings, making (if we're not careful) its continued ascendance a veritable fait accompli...' Dude, check the history books. Iowa's reputation as the top school started way back when Flannery O'Connor was part of the faculty. Way the hell before 1997."

Yes, I'm sure it was also the top school back when it was the only school. But seriously, I never said USNWR was the basis for Iowa's reputation; what I said was that "some" of its reputation came from being ranked number one in the first-ever ranking of MFA programs a decade ago. I'm not sure how you could think otherwise, lest you also think that (for instance) everyone knew Boston College Law School was a top twenty-five school before it was ranked there by USNWR. The bottom line is, yes, Iowa has always had a stunning reputation and I've never intimated otherwise. But to be generally respected as a top school and to be installed as without question the top school--both at a time when there were 100 schools nationally, and now (according to you) when there are 400 schools--doesn't just happen by word-of-mouth. Not in our modern information culture/economy.

"[Indiana made my top ten because] I made it quite clear in my post that there are a number of criteria for ranking, and that it was in my top ten list. For a number of reasons, location and funding were extremely important to me, and past my top three schools, quality of life became paramount."

Fair enough(!) I think I've said about twenty times on this thread--and so shouldn't be asked to say it again--that rankings are just one resource, you can use them or not use them, and if you use them don't abuse them. Likewise, I think I've made clear that everyone can and should and does create their own personal weighting system for judging schools--as do prospective law students, prospective medical school students, and so on. That's not unique to poets and writers. What TKS does is give people a single resource (of many) they can use or not use, which so happens to make a considered judgment based upon exactly the same types of factors you based your own personal rankings on.

"Iowa has funding. Not for everybody, and not in the same amount. And it is a school that people are often willing to go into debt for."

Agreed! Jeez, can't you take "yes" for an answer? How many times do I have to tell you and others how much I respect Iowa, and how it's in my own personal Top 10, before you stop lecturing me about how great it is? Kealey was more down on Iowa than I was--I've said this 100 times. I still don't think that sinks his ratings, and to suggest that one "bad" ranking sinks a ranking system is to show that one knows nothing about rankings.

"You are rejecting wholesale what everybody keeps saying: Iowa has funding. It is tiered, but it exists."

I admitted that about 100 times.

"And while funding matters, IT ISN'T EVERYTHING! If it was, we'd all be going to law school."

No, you wouldn't. Because law schools don't give any money to anybody. So if funding were everything, you'd...I don't know...rely on TKS? Or any other ranking system which weights funding as an important factor? Oh. That's right. There aren't any. [Okay, I apologize for the OTT sarcasm, but c'mon...if we cared about funding, we'd go to law school? Where did that observation come from? You've actually proven my point: because we won't make any money after graduation, funding matters tremendously. We won't be able to repay sizeable loans; in contrast, if funding were everything that would...well, have no impact on which law school you went to...because you'd make plenty of money after graduation and could pay back your loans, in theory, even if the school had given you squat in aid].

"If you love New York and you have money in some form, Columbia is worth looking at."

Okay. I'm happy for those people, actually. It's nice to not have to worry about money in this life. And I really admire a school which presumes you have that luxury.

"Reputation matters. Funding matters. Faculty matters. What the alumni/current students think (in terms of both effectiveness and happyness) matters."

Yes! You get it! Yes, that's why TKS has sixteen weighted factors instead of USNWR's one. Because reputation alone isn't a sufficient criterion.

"Again, though, rankings will really depend on WHY somebody wants to go to an MFA program."

Agreed! And I never said otherwise. The right way to use rankings is to make them work for your values. But you have to be working from a ranking system which has more than one value (for USNWR, "reputation") to do that.

"All this ranking should be is a starting point for people to start making their lists of schools to apply to."

Woo hoo! You do get it! I said that from the very start. Maybe now you'll see why I can't understand your intense frustration? When we agree on all the basic principles of how to use rankings?

S.


Clench Million
Charles

Jan 8, 2007, 11:23 PM

Post #239 of 764 (14454 views)
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Quote
Anyone reading this thread can see that I've exhaustively attempted to confront any and all "challenges" to Kealey's ranking system in a thorough and thoughtful way. You disagree with what I've said and that's fine; asserting that I'm "not actually considering" your challenges because I disagree with them is specious at best.


I'm afraid I gotta go with Hopper on this one. I don't see how you've really responded to most of the criticisms listed. Certainly you haven't responded to any of the substantive ones I posted. All I've really seen you do is take a quote, often out of context, then go on denouncing it in a fairly insulting tone (allow me to quote one of your early responses to Jargreen:

Quote

Finally, your comment that "funding" is a subjective criteria is just laughable. I can't believe you really believe that. Just because some people get funding and some don't doesn't make the criterion "subjective"--you do know that, right?;

) followed by a long discussion of your perfect your rankings are (I know you say they aren't meant to be perfect, but then you turn around and say that your rankings are more accurate as well as more predictive as well as more in line with common opinion as well as more mathetmatical as well as more, etc.)


Quote

"We're almost all reacting to where you, umass76, ranked schools (though you've based them somewhat on Kealey)."

Actually, all of the major arguments relating to the rankings have centered around the top twenty spots in the rankings, which are very much a product of Kealey's handbook.


Perhaps I'm wrong, but I've read the book as well as the blog from day one, and IIRC Kealey only vaguley ranks schools with comments like "perhaps the best" or "certainly in the top 10" (notice that saying Iowa, or whatever, are at least in the top 20 doesn't negate the possibility of them being in the top 10 or even top 5). I also only remember Kealey commenting on about 10 or 12 programs, leaving about half of his theoretical top 10 empty.


Quote
and to suggest that one "bad" ranking sinks a ranking system is to show that one knows nothing about rankings.

There goes that tone again.
Given the context, one totally off ranking can certainly sink a rating. Would anyone following the NFL this year trust your ranking of the top 10 teams if you left the Chargers out?


bighark


Jan 9, 2007, 12:14 AM

Post #240 of 764 (14442 views)
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Umass, you need to drop this.

Your Kealey Scale is based of the opinion of one guy. That's it. That's pretty weak.

First of all, Tom Kealey did not rank anything. He made some hints and innuendos, but he did not assemble a hard ranking. How on earth can you build anything useful from that? Even Kealey did intend to actually rank schools--even if his rankings were right--what makes you think that your interpretation of his unranked rankings are correct?

Furthermore, Kealey's research, if you can call it research, is sloppy. He provides no lists or figures or data. If Kealey says a program's funding is good, you have to take his word that it's good. He doesn't say how much "good" is supposed to mean or what you have to do get that money.

I think funding is super important, don't get me wrong, but the Kealey Scale amounts to little more than hearsay and junk science. To insist that this list is accurate or even valid is just ridiculous.


umass76


Jan 9, 2007, 12:14 AM

Post #241 of 764 (14446 views)
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Alright, Clench, you win. You've repeatedly misstated and/or flat-out ignored things I've said, as have one or two others here, and repeatedly attacked my tone while the initial "attack" in this thread was a blatant "attack"--in knee-jerk fashion--on a ranking you still don't show any signs whatsoever of actually understanding or caring to understand. And not because I haven't explained it (you'll notice most folks here are saying I've done more than enough explaining) but because you either mischaracterize or misstate or ignore what I say and then make irrelevant and unrelated side-points which cause you frustration when I belittle them or claim them to be (as they are) irrelevant to what we were just talking about and what the main thrust of the discussion is. [E.g., whoever said Iowa gives no funding? Whoever said Kealey's Iowa ranking was correct? Whoever said that the USNWR rankings no longer have any value or cache? Whoever said rankings should be the sole resource used by prospective MFA students? I don't believe and didn't say those things, but I had to expend a lot of energy pretending as though I did so we could have a back-and-forth discussion here which vaguely resembled one that sane people might have. So if I got, as Al Gore might say, a little "snippy," it's partly because it felt like someone threw ten water balloons in the air just to see how many I could juggle. I think it's all too easy to attribute the lack of productiveness in the conversation wholly to me. So, good luck with that, I guess. Fortunately there's really nothing at stake in this conversation, as no one is being "misled" (as someone intimated) if they follow the advice I've been trying to give all along: rankings are just one resource, use but don't abuse them, and so on and so on and so on...].

And while we're having this discussion, 90% of the people who know about Kealey are reading TKS rankings and (apparently) coming back to them again and again (nine full days after I posted the rankings, visitors are up 500% with Kealey's site being the largest referrer by a factor of 10; so, you can understand, I hope, why I'm skeptical that "Clench" and "Hopper" represent any large demographic here). By which I mean: regarding TKS, there's evident and substantial interest. If you guys don't see it and aren't willing to discuss TKS point-by-point, which is what I've done in every post here--yes, very good, like the lawyer I am (one might say derisively)--that's totally fine with me. Seriously, I really do wish all you guys the best, and think you should value schools however the heck you want to. It's no skin off my back.

I'm certain I wasn't the best person to roll out a new ranking system; I did my best, certainly got too heated under the pressure, and don't handle well people less inclined to debate than to needle pointlessly. The bottom line, though, is that the rankings are out and the opinion seems to be about 10-to-1 that they are at least worth the consideration of a serious and lengthy read.

Cheers all,
S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jan 9, 2007, 12:20 AM)


jaywalke


Jan 9, 2007, 12:33 AM

Post #242 of 764 (14435 views)
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In Reply To
I'm skeptical that "Clench" and "Hopper" represent any large demographic here.


Excellent work "Clench" and "Hopper." Back into the hive mind. There will be a little extra honey in your stalls' oat bins for tonight.

I've come up with my own ranking system that factors in decent football games in the locality divided by the availability of a decent deli and the preponderance of good bourbon, which sets Michigan firmly atop the rotation. Any takers? [For those sad souls in Manhattan: Yes, the Carnegie is good. No, it's not as good as Zingerman's. Yes, really. As a matter of fact, I have lived in both places. Thanks for asking!]

Cheerleaders who can write magic realism get quadruple points. I can also be bribed with cash (or single-barrel bourbon or a world-shaking reuben like those at Zingerman's, or a combination of the two -- pardon me, semi-coma as I ponder the possibilities, with or without the cheerleader).

All that said, I'm applying to the program in my backyard, because I've spent 20 years moving and now I'm done. No ranking neccessary--it's this one or a low-residency. Voila!


(This post was edited by jaywalke on Jan 9, 2007, 12:34 AM)


jargreen

e-mail user

Jan 9, 2007, 1:13 AM

Post #243 of 764 (14420 views)
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This is the major problem with Kealey's otherwise compassionate and insightful book (and rankings), and whenever I see Kealey criticized it is for this very reason: He places simply too much emphasis on funding. I believe that his reasoning for Iowa's being about ten to fifteen spots lower than I, and most of the writing world, think it should be is that the competitive funding creates some sort of disharmony. Well, the last thing I want is for my MFA program to be about teamwork, cheering, favors; in fact, if my classmates come to workshop bitter and hypersensitive, then they might just find more problems in my work that I need to address. If my classmates are tools that can be used in crafting my best stories, then shall they be the sharpest tools in the box! Now, what was I saying? Oh, yes. I'm very impressed when a school actually thinks so highly of its creative writing program, its faculty and its students, that it stacks fifteen thousand dollar bills right out there on the table. But there are a great many programs that I consider top-notch (great curriculum, great faculty, great students, great publishing success) who are not, for whatever reason, so generous. Iowa, Columbia, and Arizona, among others, are penalized so severely as to render his assessment of these schools inaccurate, disingenuous, and, frankly, very haughty.


jargreen

e-mail user

Jan 9, 2007, 2:02 AM

Post #244 of 764 (14417 views)
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I am, as you know, one of those enthusiasts for Bowling Green State and Southern Illinois, and I have to remind you that neither of these schools is a "recent bloomer," as you contend "everyone" would agree. Southern Illinois received the thirteenth highest score in the '97 USNWR rankings (3.1), and BGSU received the fifteenth highest (2.9).

But Bowling Green probably reached its peak in the 70s (and shortly before and shortly after), when the following people were associated with the MFA program, either as faculty or students:

Allen Wier, who directed the Alabama MFA program
Tony Ardizzone, who directed the Indiana MFA program
Dara Wier, who currently directs the MFA program at UMass
Anthony Doerr
Jim Daniels
Carolyn Forche
Barbara Paul
Marshall Klimasewisky, the star professor at Washington U in St. Louis
James Baldwin, who was on faculty for a couple of years
Jim Powell, the greatest undergraduate creative writing lecturer who ever lived, in my opinion

Southern Illinois turned out Robert Coover in the 60s, I believe. He now headlines the MFA faculty at Brown.


Original quote by umass76:

#3 is an issue with every single ranking that's ever been done, and TKS does alright there because the only complaints on this note have been from SIU, Illinois, and BGSU students or enthusiasts, and frankly those schools are in the Honorable Mention (rank: #51 to #55) section of the rankings, and everyone concedes these programs are only recent bloomers


HopperFu


Jan 9, 2007, 8:44 AM

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HopperFu,
Clearly, my tone has overwhelmed the substance of what I've said--a circumstance for which I can only blame myself. I know that my tone has overwhelmed my substance because that must be the case, as nothing about the way you've characterized what I've said previously suggests that you actually read what I said in the first instance--at least not with anything but anger, righteous indignation, and/or derision....


Yeah, that's the whole "tone begets tone" comment I made earlier...


Quote
Anyone reading this thread can see that I've exhaustively attempted to confront any and all "challenges" to Kealey's ranking system in a thorough and thoughtful way. You disagree with what I've said and that's fine; asserting that I'm "not actually considering" your challenges because I disagree with them is specious at best.


I'd agree that you are confronting arguments, which is different than actually considering them.
But the point is not your tone nor my tone, nor is it how many people are following your rankings - though I would think that having a large number of people should actually increase your willingness to accept challenges to your weights and measures - but rather that these rankings are based on what are ultimately only your opinions (as viewed through the lens of Kealey).
That is something you have stated, however, your arguments in defense of your rankings are so verbose, angry, and full of self-justification, that I think you are giving yourself and these rankings a heft and sense of authority that they don't deserve.
This is problematic because many people do NOT put a ton of research into figuring out where to apply. If they did, they wouldn't need rankings based on funding, location, faculty, course work, etc. They would have determined these things for themselves. The only thing they would have problems determining for themselves would be a) the reputation of a school, again, as measured by agents, editors, and publishers, not us, and b) the historical efficacy of a school (which is a problematic measure at best)
What these rankings do, essentially, is encourage people to apply to schools based on information that is readily accesible, while burying the information that is not.
If there is an answer to this, it would most likely a ranking system that did not try to rank schools equally based on a standard set of criteria, but rather one that had different types of rankings, for example, one ranking based on reputation and publishing history, another based on time to write (say funding and workload), and a third based on quality of life (student happiness, funding, location, whatever). Not to mention that Poetry and Fiction lists are not always the same.
But there are about ten schools, give or take, that almost every writer should consider applying to. Though they may strike many or all off their list for a variety of personal reasons - program size, funding, location, professors - these are still schools that EVERYBODY should give consideration to applying to. A ranking system that rates every school on a system of universal criteria means that, by neccessity, some of these schools get excluded consideration because of their relatively poor rankings. I believe this is a disservice to applicants.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Jan 9, 2007, 9:42 AM

Post #246 of 764 (14381 views)
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Nobody pays out-of-state tuition at Iowa, in either their first or second year.

Whether the program communicates that effectively is another matter entirely. The biggest problem with Iowa's funding isn't really the amount of it, but how confusing and non-transparent it is, even once you're in the program. When I was deciding on schools, I most seriously considered Florida and Iowa. The money was the same for me at both places, but it took me about two minutes to understand the funding scheme at UF, whereas I'm still not completely sure I understand the one at Iowa.

Anyway, sorry to interrupt the debate. As you were...


Aubrie


Jan 9, 2007, 11:08 AM

Post #247 of 764 (14367 views)
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Shall we try? [In reply to] Can't Post

Let's play a fun, new game.

Why don't we all list our first choice (or couple of first choices) school, and the reasons why.
I think this might be even more helpful for potential MFA applicants when they come back and look through our threads from 2006-2007.

I know that I found this board invaluable when I was deciding which schools to apply to -- way more so than USNWR's or Kealey's rankings.

So. Who wants to go first?

(I'm still putting my thoughts together on mine)


ecphraticknolls


Jan 9, 2007, 11:10 AM

Post #248 of 764 (14365 views)
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Quote
If there is an answer to this, it would most likely a ranking system that did not try to rank schools equally based on a standard set of criteria, but rather one that had different types of rankings, for example, one ranking based on reputation and publishing history, another based on time to write (say funding and workload), and a third based on quality of life (student happiness, funding, location, whatever). Not to mention that Poetry and Fiction lists are not always the same.


I was reading all of this as it came up--although, I didn’t want to get in the middle of anything. However, I was basically thinking the same thing. It would be useful to have rankings that allowed students to judge what was most important to them. Maybe even a system where prospective applicants can weigh various aspects of the process based off of how important they consider various factors to be.

The more dynamic and protean the ranking system is, the more useful it actually is in practice (rather than simply puffing up or deflating the reputation of particular schools based off of which number they fall on).


renapoo


Jan 9, 2007, 12:10 PM

Post #249 of 764 (14340 views)
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In Reply To
Why don't we all list our first choice (or couple of first choices) school, and the reasons why.
I think this might be even more helpful for potential MFA applicants when they come back and look through our threads from 2006-2007.


I'll play!

1. Irvine: AMAZING reputation, Very good funding, Strong (but small) faculty, Great Location

2. U Virginia: Strong reputation, Very good funding (teaching only in the 2nd year), AMAZING faculty, good location

3. Cornell: Strong reputation, Excellent funding (up to 5 years), Strong faculty, AMAZING Multidisciplinary Areas (English, Philosophy, etc.)

4. U Texas/Michener Center: Strong reputation, AMAZING funding, questionable faculty, Great location, success of recent graduates (Stegner & FAWC fellows)

And then in the next tier would be Michigan, Brown, and Iowa. I'm sure the top 4 spots will shift around in the coming months, but for now, that's my list and I'm sticking to it.


Clench Million
Charles

Jan 9, 2007, 1:07 PM

Post #250 of 764 (14315 views)
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Quote
You've repeatedly misstated and/or flat-out ignored things I've said, as have one or two others here, and repeatedly attacked my tone while the initial "attack" in this thread was a blatant "attack"--in knee-jerk fashion--on a ranking you still don't show any signs whatsoever of actually understanding or caring to understand.


Can't say as I buy the "Jimmy did it first!" defense. It didn't work with my mom when I was a kid and it soured me on the idea. I'm not sure I read the "initial attack," I don't visit this site every day, but just because someone initially attacked you four pages ago doesn't give you liscence to attack every other poster in this thread. If you want to justify your tone against Jargreen (the initial attacker?), ok. But because you thought jargreen was a meanie doesn't mean you should insult HooperFu and every other poster.

I'm not sure what else to say here excpet we see things quite differently. I've presented several issues I have with the ranking system that have been completely ignored by you. I don't mind that in itself, but it is a little annoying for you to ignore all my (and some other posters) arguments and then turn around and declare things like "The only arguments anyone has given are that Iowa or Columbia are too low. Those peopel are just silly!"


Quote

And while we're having this discussion, 90% of the people who know about Kealey are reading TKS rankings and (apparently) coming back to them again and again (nine full days after I posted the rankings, visitors are up 500% with Kealey's site being the largest referrer by a factor of 10; so, you can understand, I hope, why I'm skeptical that "Clench" and "Hopper" represent any large demographic here).


I'm very glad for you. Good job.
But you should keep in mind that I visited your site from Kealey's and perhaps Hopper did as well. Merely because people are visiting rankings doesn't mean they do or don't have the same disagreements as me and hopper.

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