Lists are more to me than slips of loose paper you take to the grocery store. A list is a peaceful moment of organization; a lapse in the chaos; a mode of motivation. True, I often use “list-making” or “planning” as a method of prolonged procrastination, but in the end I look to them and attempt (in a timely manner) to complete the goals I have set; to feel the ultimate satisfaction in crossing out a task and calling it finished. I’m best at those hour by hour, here’s how my day will go and I’ll get everything done and schedule in a nap and eating time and I feel so on top of things lists (though I rarely EVER get to take that nap and usually re-write the whole thing by afternoon), but I also love purely informational spreads. What excites me most on this day, as deadlines approach, is Poets & Writers 2011 MFA Rankings.
I came home yesterday to see a bright yellow spine on the kitchen counter that I knew contained a critical lapse in my graduate application chaos. And yes, I stood up straighter with excitement, and yes, I might have done a tiny little leap. Flipping the pages, P&W naturally fell to the glorious columns and rows that defined the brand new MFA desirables. Upon first glance, things look pretty similar: Yo, Iowa! Up top! and so forth. There has been some slight shifting (University of Texas, Austin +1; University of Wisconsin, Madison +3, etc.), but overall we’re seeing some similar names at reasonably similar locations.
What makes this list so fantastic is the additional information P&W has graciously decided to include in this years magazine—this is a two page spread of rocking data; columns that include “Size” (ranging, adorably, from S to XL), “Cost of Living,” “Teaching Load” and the all important “Funding.” In Seth Abramson’s detailed introduction on the list-making process, he mentions a 2009 poll in which 56% of MFA applicants felt that funding was THE MOST significant factor in application and matriculation decisions. I’m definitely not the only one on a budget.
Following the top 50 is the top 10 of Low Residency programs and an intriguing list of “Notable New Hires.” Though only 18% listed faculty as top priority in that 2009 poll, it’s still an important factor to consider. Especially when NYU seems to be cultivating a team of all-star faculty that might even rival the Yankees lineup: Junot Díaz, Zadie Smith, Anne Carson and Charles Simic.
Finally, there is a handy section on “The Dos and Don’ts of MFA Personal Statements,” but I’ll worry about statements when I get my head deeper into the applications. Right now, I’m all about the GREs.
I finally received my GRE study book from the library and am considering taking a GRE Prep Course recommended by Kate Lebo in the comments section of my previous MFA blog. It’s the best bang for your buck, and to be honest, I do only want to take the GRE once.
So, take a good long peek at P&W’s MFA Revolution, study for the GRE and share where you’re thinking about applying. I’m still narrowing and researching, so I’m curious as to location and number; how many programs are you / did you apply for?