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Bumblebea

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Bumblebea last won the day on November 17 2019

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  1. I don't think attending this MFA program will impact your PhD chances in any tangible way. IME PhD programs don't really consider the prestige of one's MFA as a factor in making decisions. If you are going for a literature PhD (and not a creative writing PhD), they don't really care that much about any creative publications or your creative writing life in general. They view it as almost a completely different discipline. Having said that ... If this is how you feel about this program, I don't think you should go there. And I'm coming from a place of experience here. I did a creative writing degree right out of undergrad, and it was seriously the worst experience of my life. The professors had zero interest in my writing (and I honestly didn't like theirs either), the workshop was a mean, hostile place (probably because I wasn't doing the type of writing everyone else was, but also because there was loads of misogyny* and women in general were looked at as incapable of writing Real LiteratureTM) ... and it just sucked. And to be honest, I was so traumatized by my experience that it took me years--I mean, goddamn years--for me to start writing creatively again. Now, I realize my story is an extreme example here, and that you probably won't have the same experience, and YMMV and all that. But I do think that having good writers/mentors to work with is EXTREMELY important when you're doing creative writing. I mean, it's really the whole enterprise in a nutshell. If you can't trust your adviser/mentor with this thing that comes from a very personal part of you, then you really can't get the guidance and support you need. If you don't think you can do that at this MFA program, then you absolutely should not go. Go to this program, for the funding if nothing else. 2x the funding you'd get at the MFA program is nothing to sneeze at, and congratulations. Plus, a lower teaching load is SO important. I can't stress that enough. More importantly, if you finish the MA and decide that you then want to do an MFA (instead of a PhD), you will still have that option, and you may, by that point, have a portfolio that gets you into a dream MFA program rather than your last choice. Better to hold off and get your MFA from, say, Michigan or UC-Irvine, than from hole-in-the-wall University of Dingdongs with an MFA program that's just a few years old. *This English department (department--not the entire university) recently settled a massive Title IX lawsuit due to its pervasive culture of sexual harassment, and for its willful choice to do jackshit to stop it. It wasn't just me (yay, I guess?).
  2. Ah, okay, I get what you're saying, and I'm sorry for overreacting. No, I completely agree with this. For a long time I have been critical of the "top 10 or bust" mentality of some of these internet "getting into grad school" communities. I have been beaten out for jobs by people who graduated from programs much, much "lower ranked" than mine (in quotation marks because who really knows about the value of certain programs). I think when people peddle this narrative of "it's not worth going to grad school if you don't get into a top-10 (or top-12 or top-20) school," we not only ignore diverse career goals (teaching-focused school, community college, independent scholar) but also create kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy that carries on into the next generation. It's widely believed that "nothing good" comes out of "lower-ranked" programs because it has been decided that nothing ever has and nothing ever will. And that's BS. I mean, in some ways I'm living proof--I didn't go anywhere special (a program ranked about the 20s-30s) and have won fellowships and national awards and been published in the best journals. So obviously I was capable of producing good scholarship, even if the admissions committees didn't think so at the time (or I didn't present myself as an applicant who could do so). As I've said elsewhere, the job market works both ways. Slippery Rock University is probably going to be more keen on hiring someone from Duquesne or Indiana U of Pennsylvania than they are someone from Princeton. Cleveland State is going to be more receptive to a Case Reserve U. grad than a Berkeley grad. The job market is very much about "fit," and graduating from a high-ranked school is not going to guarantee you employment at universities looking for someone who "fits in" and understands where the students are coming from. If I could wave a magic wand and turn my 30ish ranked PhD into a Yale PhD, would I do so? Probably. But I also wouldn't have the job I have right now. Moreover, I am not certain I would have worked so hard or done the scholarship I did if I hadn't been at 30ish.
  3. I did not think you were aiming this at me. After all, I do indeed have a job. But I spent a large chunk of my life trying to get one, so I'm eye-rolling at some of the statements people make that imply that the market is self-sorting and that those who didn't get a job didn't deserve one in the first place because they made some "gaffe" along the way that ensured their unhireability, just as those who got hired somehow did everything "right" and deserve their success. Such as: I mean, really? Yes, of course there are hundreds of people who enter the job market every year who are published in respected journals, who win grants, who are qualified (really??? you think this comes down to who's the most qualified??), who don't make interviewing mistakes (!!! if it only came down to interviewing mistakes so that people could fix them!), who have interesting research that "matters" (always a subjective thing anyway), who aren't "narrow specialists" (my years and years of teaching at a non-Ivy League program ensured that), and who have taught a wide range of classes (lol, again, after years on the market and VAP circuit, just ... lol). And as far as being "over-qualified"--I mean, sit down. Honey, we're all over-qualified these days. After my own years on the job market, though, I vowed never to engage in this kind of blaming. I realize just how insanely arbitrary the market is, and that anyone who has a job just got lucky. There were 200 people who could have gotten my job and were just as qualified, and they didn't. I'm not a special unicorn. I do not have a special brain. Yeah, I did a lot of "right things" along the way, and I worked hard, but so did a lot of other people. It almost didn't work out for me, and if it hadn't, it would not really have been my fault. The experience was extremely humbling. What's distressing to me, though, is that successful job seekers still want to see less successful candidates as responsible for their own lack of success. That doesn't exactly fill me with optimism for the future of the discipline.
  4. So here's the thing. If you feel that Columbia (or Harvard) are great fits for you, then I wouldn't worry about the job placement record right now as much. First of all, NO ONE is placing these days. It's just really bad everywhere. Second of all, you don't know what things are going to look like in 5-7 years. If you pick a program you're not as wild about and decide to go there because they seem to have a stronger placement rate ... their stronger placement rate might not hold up over the course of six years. That actually happened to me--I attended a program that, though not a top-ranked school, had a better placement than Penn. That is no longer true. Third, and most important of all, whether or not a job hopeful gets placed in a given year often has to do with what schools are hiring in that given year. I was on the market for years, and there were some years I really wished I had an Ivy League PhD because most of the jobs were at high-end SLACs or elite R1 universities. Those are the schools that hire Ivy League PhDs. During other years, the majority of schools hiring were much more modest institutions--lower-ranked regional comprehensives or less elite private colleges. I ended up getting hired at an institution like that. I don't think I would have been hired if I'd had a PhD from a super elite school. Like tends to hire like, and at more teaching-focused institutions, Ivy League or elite PhDs are not looked at as "fitting in." So, it just depends on the year. I think your chances are much better in the long run if you're coming out of an elite school, but if it's a year where UC-Irvine isn't hiring but Lindsey Wilson College is, then you're probably not going to get that job. I beat out Ivy League candidates for my job because I seemed like a better "fit"--but of course an Ivy League candidate beat me out for a job at Brandeis. Again, it just depends on what kind of schools are hiring that year.
  5. I was not speaking literally. My point was that, no, there aren't EVEN 20 "safe" programs you can graduate from that will give you a better shot at tenure-track works because oftentimes these days there aren't even 20 TT jobs in any given cycle! So of course there's no safe program, nor is there a magic bullet that will get you a job. This last couple years have been, hands down, the worst on record, and according to some experts we haven't hit bottom yet. Yes, there are anecdotal cases of people graduated from X program and getting hired at elite Y school. There are always anecdotal cases and always have been. In fact, I would venture to say that at this point ALL WE HAVE are anecdotal cases--not patterns anymore. We don't see enough people getting hired to even begin to quantify things. Some of the Ivy programs haven't made a TT placement in a couple years. The fact that someone outside the Ivy League gets a good job does not negate the overall pattern, nor should it be taken as evidence that "if you work really hard that's all that matters and you will get a job." It should more like be taken as evidence of "sometimes miracles happen, but statistically speaking they will probably not happen for you." I mean, I also had a lot of those things--major publications (one which won an extremely elite award), a prestigious national dissertation fellowship, presenting at sometimes 7-8 conferences at year, teaching experience out the wazoo and glowing teaching evaluations, and, yes, relationships with professors, many of them leaders in the field. And oh yeah, now I've got an article forthcoming from the tip-top journal in the entire field. And I still spent six years on the market, coming in second for a lot of jobs. So no, I am not going to sit here and say that some people get jobs because they worked hard and accrued experience and made connections. A lot of us do those things. And a lot of people still go home empty-handed. The job market these days is about being lucky. Extremely lucky. No more of this bootstraps stuff.
  6. So, I don't necessarily agree with "B"--obviously some people get jobs, and those who go to the best programs are more likely to get jobs--but it is accurate to say that we have no idea what the profession will be like in six years. Six years ago we thought the market was just in a slump. Six years later, people are like, "Wow, the 2013-14 cycle was great! Those were the good old days!" Lol. Yeah, it's bad out there. So I'm going to add something to what "B" said: consider where in the country you would like to be if the professor thing doesn't work out. If push comes to shove and you have to get a job doing something other than academia ... where would you ideally like to be? New York? Boston? New Haven? San Francisco? Because where you get your PhD might matter for whatever non-acc or alt-acc path you might choose, and universities have deep connections to particular areas. Case in point: I know someone who got a PhD at Stanford and ended up writing for the SF Chronicle by leaning on a connection they made through the English department's career service. I know another person who went to Berkeley (dropped out without finishing) who ended up writing copy for a tech company in exchange for a salary that most junior faculty could only dream about. Obviously these "alt-acc" tracks seem far removed from your ultimate goal right now (and for good reason) ... but this is just one more factor you might consider in making your decision. Good luck!
  7. I am 😧 about the fact that UConn now makes people teach 2:2. When I applied (and got in, but didn't go) they were really adamant that their grad students should only teach 1:1 in order to stay competitive with other programs. Anyway, I would highly recommend looking into Villanova. I know a lot of people who have gone there and then moved to really great PhD programs. If the funding is good, I would take a much longer look at that program than Miami of Ohio. The thing with MA programs--they don't necessarily set you up for a particular PhD program (and their ranking means absolutely nothing), but a lot of programs do have regional connections. Since Villanova is on the East coast, it may help you make contacts with other professors in that general region, and your professors will probably have contacts. If you want to try for a PhD program in the mid-Atlantic area, Villanova would be a better bet than Miami. If you want to be in the Midwest for a PhD, though, then Miami might be a better bet. Full disclosure: I did my MA at a Midwestern university that was very similar to Miami, and Midwestern PhD programs were interested in me, while East/West Coast schools not as much. When I visited one of the programs to which I'd been admitted, I figured out pretty quickly that that program felt that I was a "known quantity" thanks to where I'd done my MA. Obviously my experience is anecdotal, though.
  8. Honestly? I'd say there aren't even 20 programs you can graduate from to find TT work these days. At the risk of sounding like That Person ... that's how bad the job market is. There is no job market. I'm no longer on the job market, but in my particular field--which was once very robust and considered a "must have" for almost all university English departments--there were a total of seven tenure-track jobs this year. Seven. Back in 2013, there were 35 ... and that was considered a "bad year" at the time. My point is that we've basically moved into uncharted territory. None of this is even showing up in the rankings yet because it's such a new reality. And yes, it's new, but it's not turning around. It's the new normal, rapidly becoming just "the normal." Since the two programs you're weighing are much better known for their rhet/comp programs than their literature programs, you might want to think about doing something rhet/comp adjacent. Not that you should give up specializing in literature (if that's non-negotiable for you), but maybe look at cultivating a side-specialty in rhet/comp--not to mention helping with the writing center, working with the first-year writing program (they need lit PhD input too), learning how to teach technical or developmental writing. That kind of activity will make you more attractive to the kind of universities that will actually seek to hire a PhD from a less-elite program. And yes, there are universities that would rather have a Ball State or Miami PhD rather than a Cornell PhD. A community college or large open-admissions regional university is going to value relevant teaching experience and "fit" over pedigree. But even this dynamic is changing in certain places, as schools and departments are taking advantage of the "buyer's market" to burnish their credentials with an Ivy hire. A friend of mine just took a sabbatical from her small public college in North Dakota, and the department hired a one-year VAP from Princeton to take her place. It's wild out there these days.
  9. Option 1, period point blank. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Absolutely no equivocation here whatsoever, from someone now on the other side of the process. Money talks. If this program is recognized and has funding to throw at you (and the other program doesn't), then that tells you how you'll be valued, and that's it, end of discussion.
  10. Oh, I definitely didn't think you were trying to game the system. I was just trying to point out how the market demands (if one can even call them "demands" anymore) change when the wind blows. I mean, ten years ago if you said you wanted to specialize in American/British 20th-21st c., everyone would kinda go quiet as this funereal mood swept through the room, and then someone would venture ... "You DO realize how bad the market is for that, right?"
  11. English went through an "eco-criticism" thing a couple years ago. Now I hardly see any advertisements for eco-criticism jobs. "Medical humanities" has also rapidly cooled. The job market is just extremely quirky. I can't even enumerate how many times I've said to myself, "Oh, I wish I'd done That Thing!" ... only to see that next year's job market has moved on and is no longer into That Thing anymore. Just ... don't even bother gaming the market. Certain things will always *help* you, to some extent--if you are a literature person and can work as a WPA or in a writing center ... that might help you land a generalist job that's looking for someone who can run a writing center or train other writing teachers. These days schools look to kill as many birds as possible with one stone.
  12. Yes, there is some truth to this. English class enrollments are at an all-time low, so classes have had to get "trendier" to attract non-English major students. So you start to see a lot more classes these days in science fiction, Harry Potter, graphic novels, film adaptation, etc. Anything to entice students who "hate to read" to sign up for an English class. The only students who take things like Chaucer and Shakespeare and Milton and 18th-century novels are English majors, and we don't have many English majors anymore. Truly, that's what's driving the slump in the job market. People aren't eager to drop $200k on a degree in a major they perceive (wrongly) as qualifying them only to teach high school or work at Starbucks.
  13. I don't mean to sound glib, but ... honestly, you might as well just get out your Tarot cards and ask the universe. That's about the extent to which you can predict what the market will be doing 6-7 years from now. I was told the exact opposite when I was applying 11 years ago. Modern/contemporary was so over-saturated that doing it was a suicide mission. I actually really wanted to do those fields ... but like I said, suicide mission. I specialized in a field that was considered relatively "safe" back in those days and was told that "every English department will need someone who does ___________, so while it will still be extremely difficult to get a job, your chances are better." Well. ___________ went through a "hiring boom" (relatively speaking) about six or seven years ago before I was on the market. And now no one needs anyone who does ____________. Right now multi-ethnic literatures are advertising a lot of positions (relatively speaking--I mean, no one's really advertising "a lot" of positions)--especially Latinx and Chicanx. But again, that's what the market is doing right now. Five years from now, who knows. DH was very promising a few years ago, but now I'm pretty sure it has peaked.
  14. Yup, English had a slight "boom" in the 2012-2013 hiring year. (I think people were feeling positive because of Obama's reelection [don't ask me why that makes a difference but apparently it does] and the Recession seemed behind us). Then things went back to sucking. Now not even rhet/comp is safe. Yay for me, I missed that "economic miracle" of a year went on the job market in 2014-2015 and then 2015-2016. And it's been a shit show ever since. According to some experts we haven't even "hit bottom" yet. I joked to a friend three years ago that one of these days there would be approximately one TT job advertised in my field. This year there were three, so I'm getting close. (And I specialized in a field that was at one time considered almost as robust as rhet/comp). I wish we lived in a world where talent and hard work prevailed, but that is really not the case. This is now a game of Russian roulette but backwards--instead of having one bullet in the cylinder, you've got all the cylinders filled except one. I loved grad school for its own sake, and I love academia for its own sake. Unfortunately, as much as you tell yourself "I will be happy just to spend five years studying something I love, even if it doesn't work out"--well, when you get to the other side of that, coming to terms with the loss is something of a grieving process. I try to remind myself of how lucky I have been to publish things that people cite and read, to present at conferences, and to even have a book deal ... but on the inside it's actually really devastating.
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