Columbia Professor’s E-mail to Students Was Pure Fiction
The larger concern over Professor Hospital’s missive to her former students is that most of it is not true.
Columbia is not a three-year program, as Professor Hospital asserts, but a two-year program. There are not 300 students in the program, as alleged, but slightly more than half that. Columbia does not matriculate a hundred students a year but eighty–the number reported by the University in its 2007 graduate school admissions summary. Columbia is not the largest MFA in the country (that “honor” goes to the largely-unfunded MFA at The New School) nor does it enjoy 100% yield — rather, it suffers from one of the lowest yields of any top 50 MFA. (“Yield” is the percentage of applicants offered admission to a program who accept their offer.) Columbia’s own website last reported an annual yield ranging from 60% to 80% between 2002 and 2007, and analysis of application trends since this last reporting of yield data suggests this figure has almost certainly dropped. It’s more likely, now, that between one in four and one in two Columbia admittees are sufficiently unimpressed by the largely-unfunded program to decline to attend.
This article by Anelise Chen is funny, cutting, and provocative. I’d only add that low-residency MFA programs offer quite different experiences from the ones described here. Be sure to read the comments below the article.
via The Rumpus:
On Blowing My Load: Thoughts From Inside the MFA Ponzi Scheme
As we get closer to graduating, we might start to think that perhaps we have not actually learned that much. That maybe we were better writers before we entered The Program, and that we’ve actually just had a vacation with our student-aid money. It will have to be repaid! In our worst moments, we begin to wonder whether we’ve destroyed our genius by subscribing to this institutional mind-meld.
Or maybe contaminated genius isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s any one of these:
1. These ten pages of writing–does this count as a novel…? (No.)
2. Aren’t I supposed to have like a fucking masterpiece by now? (No, but you do have two or three stories that are maybe worth publishing in semi-popular online website.)
2. Am I going to get a job after this? (Probably not.) Will I have to go back to food service? (Probably yes.)
3. Has my writing gotten better? Have I become good enough to get an agent? (Shrugs.)
4. Have I made “connections”? (Do classmates count?)
5. Should I just give in and apply for a PhD or something? (Yes.)