Wondering in Wyoming writes in...
I've been accepted to two programs which I like
equally - same length, about the same funding, and
they both have excellent faculty. I'm having a hell
of time choosing between them (for fiction). The
towns are different in terms of scenery, but both are
beautiful and have a charm of their own and offer the
kinds of amenities (I think, I won't be able to visit
until after I make a decision because this is the
busiest season of the year at work).
The schools in question are Indiana University & The
University of Massachusetts at Amherst (your old
In the book (which I have read cover-to-cover,
thanks!) you rank Indiana in the top 5 and UMass in
the top 20, but you also give UMass a great
review...so my question is:
-- What, in your mind, distinguishes Indiana from
UMass (or, what qualities gave Indiana an edge over
UMass during your evaluations?).
WiW, the things that distinguish Indiana from most programs are: 1. The funding. Everyone gets funding, 2. Their committment to a diverse student body. They have a number of fellowships for writers of color, and 3. Their website. You don't choose a program because they have a good webmaster. But, you do consider a program that has such a student-friendly outlook, featuring lots of information about their current students. When I visit this site I think: These guys understand the information that prospective students need. That's a real rarity in the MFA World.
And also, I like the faculty, it's a three year program, and it offers excellent teaching experience. As for UMass, my graduate program: They're terrific too. But the funding is not as high or equalized, though it's good. Teaching experience is there. It's a beautiful area of the country to live in. I really enjoyed my time there.
Overall, I just think that Indiana offers more, as a program, than most other programs, including UMass. My sense is you won't go wrong with either program, but Indiana wins by a nose. Best of luck with your decision. Let us know how it goes.