Monday, August 20, 2007

Acceptance Rates

A quick post to point those of you interested in finding out about acceptance rates of creative writing programs to...

Seth Abramson's blog. Seth did some research into this most mysterious of topics, last year. Take a look and see what you think.

In contemplating acceptance rates, keep in mind that statistics alone may not give you the entire picture. There is a school of thinking that holds that certain programs "curate" their incoming classes so they end up with a variety of writers to complement one another and work well with the faculty. That is, your chances of admission may be better at some schools than at others, not because of a school's selectivity, but depending on whether you fit a certain mold of writer the school may be looking for.

Edward Delaney in The Atlantic Summer Fiction 2007 issue states it thus:
A number of the top programs told me, “We had (twelve) slots,” let’s say, for fiction writers. “We offered our first twelve, and all twelve accepted and came here.” I heard that from a number of the top programs, and I know that a lot of students apply to all of these programs. So it suggests to me that each of these programs, either consciously or unconsciously, is choosing certain types of writers.


Whiffless Apprentice said...

Well put.

I'm not sure if this was posted in response to a mailbag inquiry about top-ranked programs and "safeties" ... but, I think, as Lizzy mentions here, and as Seth
mentions on his blog, the ranking system of selectivity is a mere analysis of a very subjective admissions process.

Certain programs top the ranking list because they offer the best funding packages, and few at that (for obvious reasons). Thus these programs are the most sought-after, when their faculty, their particular writing style/technique/approach, etc. may not necessarily be the best fit for many of their applicants (and vice versa).

This is, I think, why applicants are told so often to apply and reapply to several different programs. Most likely, when you apply, you don't have extensive information on the ins and outs of the programs that interest you.

Also, while the ranking system is a thorough look at, and a great resource for any program's specific data, rankings become more and more arbitrary the more they're broken down. For example, the program I attend has very different numbers for Poetry, Fiction and Non-Fiction admissions, but the ranking system is an "across all genres" analysis.
Not that it really matters.

Whether an admitted student is one of 5, 10 or 30, he/she is admitted for having submitted writing that, as Lizzy says, fits a certain mold.

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