Saturday, April 08, 2006

Columbia or New School?

New York Baby writes...

I've been accepted to both Columbia U and the New School for an MFA in Nonfiction. (I was rejected by Hunter.) Fortunately, money is not an issue. I'll be entering my MFA with a somewhat clear idea of the memoir I want to write and want a program that offers me a structured environment in which to write it and workshop it, as well become a better writer in general. I'd also love to teach creative writing in the future. Any opinions on which program I should choose?

NYB, I don't know much about the New School. If money is not an issue, then Columbia is an excellent choice. I know we're often down on Columbia on the Blog, but it's mostly because of the funding issue. I'll give you the advice that any prospective student should take: On Monday, contact both schools and ask for the emails of a couple three current students. Get in touch with them. Ask them the questions that seem to be most on your mind: teaching experience, help with the memoir, and structure. I'd also ask the question that Aimee Bender gave us in the MFA Handbook: "How's your writing going?" This simply question can tell you a lot about the experience in any particular program.

I'd appreciate any comments for NYB from readers with experience in either program. NYB: As far as your decision goes: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Get those opinions from students. Talk about your quandry with a trusted friend. Sleep on it. Then go with your gut. Best of luck to you, and let us know how it works out.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

If funding is not an issue, I think Columbia is a strong canidate for best program in the country.

A steller faculty, great publication record for alumai and an unbeatable location (although New School shares that).

The only thing I dislike about Columbia, other than funding, is there are a limited number of teaching assitanships.

Anonymous said...

If funding is not an issue, I think Columbia is a strong canidate for best program in the country.

A steller faculty, great publication record for alumai (probably only comparable to UCI and Iowa) and an unbeatable location (although New School shares that).

The only thing I dislike about Columbia, other than funding, is there are a limited number of teaching assitanships.

Anonymous said...

New School also has one of the most dishonest writers of his generation, Dale Peck, teaching. That's a strike against it fo rme.

Anonymous said...

I know one teacher at New School, the poet Elaine Equi. If you're going for poetry, that's a plus. She's one of the best teachers I ever had (undergrad at Rutgers). Also a pretty damn good poet. Beyond that, I don't have anything to add.

--Dan, Philadelphia

Anonymous said...

I am a second year fiction student at Columbia. Except for Ben Marcus and Binnie Kirshenbaum the fiction faculty is tired and disengaged. I know Columbia fiction students who have switched to New School and are happy with the change. (Dale Peck's "problem," by the way, is that he's too honest, not dishonest, and in any case what is the point of going to school where every teacher shares your own esthetic preferences?) If I had it all to do over I might switch to nonfiction and stay at Columbia, because the nonfiction faculty--Richard Locke, Lis Harris, Patty O'Toole, Brenda Wineapple— are tremendously good teachers and the students almost uniformly talented.

jeffrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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