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ODU vs BGSU - Please help me choose!


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Hi! I've gotten funded offers from both Bowling Green State University and Old Dominion University. I've drawn up a list of pros and cons, but I'm still not able to choose between the two universities. Can anyone give me some input on the reputation of these two programs? I'm aware that BGSU has one of the oldest programs in the country and is quite reputed. The faculty list is pretty impressive at ODU. Please help me, I'm really confused!

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Someone else here posted that they'd take any 3-year over any 2-year, and I'd have to agree. That extra year (especially w/funding) is a whole other level of investment in your writing.

Plus, ODU has Cristina Garcia (!) and Natalie Diaz (!!!!) on their faculty so what even is the question here?

Then again, I'm not you, and my choices are totally different.

Here, as a guideline, is how I might approach your dilemma:

1. The funding (from what I see on the BGSU & ODU websites) is about the same annually, and so is cost of living, so that's a wash.

2. 2 years versus 3 years

3. What kind of program do you want? BGSU is a studio program. ODU is an academic one.

4. What will you teach (comp v cw) and what's the teaching load? (Esp. since the funding is about the same, if one is a 2/1 and the other is a 2/2, then technically, one is asking you to do more work -- and thus take more time away from your own writing -- than the other, which would mean the funding is not the same)

5. Standard of living. Again, this is a personal thing that you'll need to decide for yourself, but -- shitty little midwest town with long winters (no offense to anyone out there who's a masochist) or Norfolk, which has beach and mild winters and is in a major metro area.

6. Faculty. I haven't seen this addressed a lot on these forums, but it's prudent to consider that a good writer is not the same as a good teacher. So even though I fangirled earlier in this post over Natalie Diaz (I mean, who wouldn't), part of the research that I did on my own decision between programs was to reach out to current students in the program about how the faculty functions as faculty, and not just based on their writing. In fact, this was my deciding factor -- I chose the program where students were most enthusiastic about faculty who supported the students' aesthetic vision rather than attempting to impose their own.  (I didn't even apply to several programs for this reason as well).


I hope this helps clarify some things for you. Let us know where you end up!!



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Thank you so, so much for your thoughtful answer, GallifreyGirl

I've been trying to draw up a detailed pros and cons list for the longest time and your answer really helped me get a start on that! 

1. The funding is the same, but BGSU needs me to pay other (university) fees, but it's manageable. ODU covers most of my other fees. I won't be going into debt either way.

2. 3 funded years is definitely a dream.

3. I'm an engineer by qualification. I don't have a literature background, so I suppose this makes ODU a good fit for me.

4. BGSU lets me teach creative writing. ODU lets me teach only comp. Both have light teaching loads.

5. As for standard of living, I can live anywhere as long as I have good internet. I mean, it'd be good to have the option to go somewhere, see places, etc., but I don't think I'd mind either. I don't mind the weather as well. I'm from the tropics, so used to super-hot weather, but I've lived in Pittsburgh before and I actually like winters.

6. Faculty. Ah, yes. I'm going to say this is a tie for me. I love both. orz

Here are two other things I'm considering:

1. BGSU is an openly "non-terminal" MFA degree. I'm considering taking the PhD route after this, so BGSU would help me there. But ODU says it's terminal, but that doesn't mean the PhD route is closed to me. I'm confused...

2. BGSU seems to have smaller fiction workshops, which I happen to like.

3. I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with BGSU's Mid-American Review.

Clearly I love both the courses, but I'm slightly more excited by BGSU (I've also known about their acceptance for longer, I've spoken to their current students, and I've had a lot of time to think about them). Trying really hard to be objective here! ;w;

Edited by NeekoNeko
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I have no idea what a "non-terminal" MFA is??? By definition, all MFAs are terminal degrees in creative writing ... though the CW PhD exists, it's more like a post-doc since the MFA is the required degree for university-level teaching of writing. Now I'm intrigued ... where are you seeing/getting that info?

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Oh, I didn't phrase that right. I'm so sorry! To clarify, based on what I discovered from my discussions with students, is if the plan is to apply for a PhD, programs like the one offered at BGSU would be the best bet. (I should've put "non-terminal" in many, many, many quotes. I meant that as it's better to do a PhD after that MFA. I'm not sure how sensible it would be to get a PhD after ODU's MFA.)

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  • 3 years later...
On 3/24/2018 at 1:02 AM, OOOOOOOO said:

1. BGSU is an openly "non-terminal" MFA degree. I'm considering taking the PhD route after this, so BGSU would help me there. But ODU says it's terminal, but that doesn't mean the PhD route is closed to me. I'm confused...

This is incorrect. BGSU's MFA degree is most definitely the terminal degree. The only non-terminal degree at BGSU is the Literature and Textual Studies MA. Those who go through the Literature program will need to go on to get a PhD if they wish to teach at four-year institutions. Those who go through the MFA program are ready to teach at four-year institutions, and many of the graduates do so.

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