1. nowordswriter
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    nowordswriter Member

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    Universities and Colleges

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by nowordswriter, Sep 23, 2011.

    I am taking advantage of the fact that this forum is for writers, and if I may assume, has a member base largely compromised of young adults at or around college level. Perhaps if I'm lucky, there's even a fat lot of you who have graduated from college.

    To get to the point, I'm looking for an institution whose primary focus is literature and writing. There are art and design schools, there are fashion schools, isn't there a school for the written arts? I don't necessarily want something specialized per se, just some place that has a large writing program.

    I've been looking around, but I'm admittedly lost.

    From your experiences and such, where's the best place to go if you want to train your writing abilities?
     
  2. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Kenyon College in Ohio is regarded as the school with the most distinguished English department. It's also one of the most freaking expensive schools in the country.I applied there and didn't get in. I'm glad I didn't, now that I'm paying for a lot of my own things including tuition. They often deny national scholars (the admissions process at that particular school is exceptionally odd), so apply at your own risk. Kenyon is not a "writing school" though. I'm not sure one even exists. It is a liberal arts college. However, it has a fairly large English department for its size, and is considered one of the best if not the best in the United States.

    I've also heard that the Pratt Institute isn't bad and somewhat easier to get into. It's a better location as well. Kenyon is in Smalltown, Ohio. Pratt is in NYC if I'm not mistaken.

    I go to my public state school and couldn't be happier. I also am not attending for a degree associated with writing though. (I'm a science major, so the more research opportunities, the better.)

    Personally, I don't think it particularly matters where you go as long as you get a lot out of it and do well there. I'm assuming that you want to go to a school with a strong English program because you want to meet other writers and better yourself. I promise you, whether you attend Kenyon or Pratt or one of the state schools in California or anywhere, you will find like-minded people, and if you put in the effort you will get a lot out of it anywhere you go.
     
  3. nowordswriter
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    nowordswriter Member

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    I have heard good things about Pratt and a lot of the colleges on the East Coast. And in all honesty, my first pick was NYU then I learned they only had Dramatic Writing as a major, which would be an interesting major admittedly. And I would be lying if I said I wasn't made squeamish by the thought of living on the other side of the country.

    And I've never heard of Kenyon. I think I shall research more into that. Thank you

    And yes, you got me in one. I am hoping to meet other writers and like-minded people. Thank you for your kind words of advice.
     
  4. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're welcome. :) Kenyon has a beautiful, but very small, campus. I visited twice and totally fell in love with the campus. (Luckily my current college is also just absolutely beautiful.) And yeah, surprisingly not a lot of people know about Kenyon despite it's very prestigious English department. I only heard about it because I knew someone who attended and one of my favorite authors, who is also from my hometown, graduated from there. I don't know all that much about Pratt, but I do know that it is supposed to have a strong creative writing program. :)
     
  5. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Poets & Writers just recently released their 2011 list of the best (American) MFA Writing programs. The results, as with any 'top school' list are pretty controversial, so you'll need to do additional research, but it's a good place to begin looking for your dream school.

    We're not allowed to link, so in case you're too lazy to google, the top 5 schools are (in order): University of Iowa in Iowa City, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, University of Texas in Austin, University of Wisconsin in Madison and University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

    Neither Kenyon nor Pratt were on the list, but (unsurprisingly) a lot of other New York schools are.
     
  6. topeka sal
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    topeka sal Senior Member

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    At the undergraduate level it is less important IMO to worry about going to the best, as long as the curriculum allows you to take creative writing courses and there are many offered. I did my undergrad at Indiana University, which has a huge English department and through which I was able to concentrate my course of study on creative writing while still benefiting from the literature courses and a faculty who had many and varied interests. I think most of the Big-Ten schools are good this way (as evidenced in part by the great MFA programs that many have). UC Irvine and UC Davis also have good creative writing programs if you're looking to stay in California. Personally, I wouldn't pay the enormous tuition that places like Kenyon charge, good as they may be (or many private Eastern schools). But that's a matter of choice and pocketbook. If you're an Ivy League type, Columbia is also known for creative writing (at least at the MFA level).

    Btw, Kenyon wouldn't be on the Poets & Writers list because it's a liberal arts college as opposed to a university and therefore doesn't have an MFA program.

    Good luck in your search!
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you can get a list of the best in a mini-second, by googling...
     
  8. topeka sal
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    topeka sal Senior Member

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    I think nowordswriter is asking for people's personal experience/knowledge. Lists are only one piece of the puzzle. It's always good to hear from others who've "been there".
     
  9. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I was going to suggest Kenyon, but Merc beat me to it. :p She's right though, their English department is pretty awesome, but yeah, they're expensive and not a lot of people get in.

    The school also looks a lot like Hogwarts. :D
     
  10. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    This. Everyone jumps to the MFA program when offering schools, but before you get into an MFA program you need a bachelor’s in fine arts (although in rare instances, you can get into an MFA program with a bachelor’s in any subject if your English work can speak for itself.). I wouldn’t worry about attending the “best” school for your undergrad because honestly, I don’t think it makes that much of a difference in the long run (you either have what it takes to get into the best MFA programs or you don’t.) Keep in mind, it’s generally ill-advised to receive ALL your degrees from the same institution (especially if you want to teach), so if you get your bachelor’s at the “best” school and then turn around and what to get your MFA there too, it’s frowned upon - your reasons of wanting to attend get scrutinized - but it can be done. This wouldn’t be a problem if we had numerous “best” schools at the end of every road but instead these programs are scattered far and wide across the nation and you have really think about the pros and cons and if it is even possible for you to move to another state at that time. In my opinion, save the best schools for your MFA and PHD programs and opt for a good-to-great undergrad school. Also, keep in mind the cost. Out of state tuition is crazy, so find the best school in your state for undergrad and then apply to fully funded MFA programs of your choice unless you can truly afford it and are that awesome. You are better equipped to get scholarships for your first in-state bachelor’s degree than out of state. And if this is your second bachelor’s degree, from experience, all I can say is that it took me six months of active searching to finally find scholarships and grants to pursue a second bachelor’s especially when I had to explain why I wanted another bachelor’s considering that I’m a current Masters level student; I had to jump through hoops, but if you truly believe in it and have a drive to pursue everything and anything, you can do it. Cost is a factor in any cases and make sure you do your research, and also make sure the program is geared towards your goals.

    If you want to write genre fiction, most programs tell you upfront that this program wouldn't be good for you because they focus primarily on literary works. So, make sure you keep that in mind and find a school appropriate to your needs. Most of the best schools focus on literary than genre fiction with a few exceptions. Creative writing programs are not uniform and what is ultimately considered the “best” does not necessarily mean it is “best” for you.
     
  11. topeka sal
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    topeka sal Senior Member

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    Yes, all of what Sundae said. Research the departments that interest you with the aim of finding out which will best suit your particular needs/interests as a writer. Also, keep in mind that your interests may change along the way, so a department with a broad spectrum of specialties could also be a good choice.
     
  12. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's because Kenyon nor Pratt have graduate programs; they are undergraduate-only facilities. :)

    New York is a pretty great place to get started in writing, but personally I think no matter where you go, if you apply yourself you'll get a lot out of it.
     
  13. Summer
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    Summer Member

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    Something else to keep in mind is the local "writing culture". I don't have a degree in Writing/English (I've got a BS in Sociology), so I don't know anything about specific schools, but the ability to meet other writers outside of the school setting is probably good too. For example if there are local writers who are active in the community, writing groups, poetry slams, etc. you would be able to form great contacts. Sometimes it is very difficult to have a personal relationships with your professors because they've got tons of work, 100s of other students coming to them, etc. so I wouldn't rely 100% on them. If it comes down to choosing between 2 schools definitely look into the location.

    I am going to disagree with the notion that where you get undergraduate degree from doesn't matter. That just isn't true at all. Where you go during undergrad can influence acceptance decisions from grad schools. Also, a good undergrad program can get you better contacts, better guest speakers/lecturers, more class selections, etc. The BEST school isn't necessary but the best one you can get into will help you a lot.
     
  14. Snoopingaround
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    Snoopingaround Banned

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    How about using this writing forum much more intensively? I think too many people place an overemphasis on "education", when the real education comes from your own efforts at accumulating knowledge and expanding your own information resources. In order to make money, you may need a college degree, but in order to get a real education, you should focus on training at developing your intellect, which can be accomplished without any money or degree title. But if you can afford it, however, it certainly can be a good idea to use the resources of a academic institution too...
     
  15. nowordswriter
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    nowordswriter Member

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    You guys are so helpful, oh my gosh. I'm very grateful and honestly touched!

    @arron89 Thank you for referring me to that magazine! It looks like a good place to get some names down to research. And the articles! Wow, really, thanks! It's a good boost

    #Gigi_GNR IT REALLY DOES LOOK LIKE HOGWARTS! funnily enough, since it would probably take nothing short of magic to get in

    @topeka sal and Sundae to be honest, I hadn't even really considered about my master's degree. That is I was thinking about getting one, but I hadn't thought that far ahead school wise. I kind of assumed I would earn my Masters from the same institution I got my bachelor's degree. (kind of like my mom did buuuut then again, she did study in the Philippines) So yes, I will keep that in mind. thank you for that piece of advice

    @Summer ah yes! the writing culture! that may be a tough one to research but yes, if it did come down to two schools, then a visit would be in order to really know the place. thanks, I'd almost forgotten about that factor. though if I may, it's not that the undergraduate program isn't important, rather I was advised to find great undergraduate programs. Just to save the best of the best for my MFA

    @Mercurial But so to clarify, Kenyon only has an undergraduate program and not a Master's and I would have to look somewhere else for a Master's program?

    @Snoopingaround funny you should say that! I was just talking to my mom about how I would probably need to have a good balance between education and learning through experience and whatever tidbits of advice I can weedle out of fellow writers

    Once again, I really appreciate you guys taking the time to answer my request. The college search has been a difficult task for me (decisions, decisions everywhere) and you guys are a great help, giving a me idea where to narrow my search.
     
  16. topeka sal
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    topeka sal Senior Member

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    This really depends on the discipline. Most MFA programs care squat about where you got your undergrad degree. It's the quality of your manuscript that matters. But even in other disciplines I've known many people who've graduated from state universities who've gone on to the most elite grad programs in their fields, even in the sciences. All I'm saying is don't ignore the larger, cheaper state-funded universities, such as those in the Big Ten or the UCalifornia system, etc, even if they are not as "elite" as some of the private schools. Researching the individual departments for the best match--both intellectually and financially--is the best way to go.
     

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