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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Don't Put it out with Your Boot!

In my AmeriCorps days spent fighting wildfires I quickly learned an important lesson; put out the biggest fire first then repeat.  It could be said that this philosophy fosters a chaotic non-stop lifestyle where one can never get ahead of one’s problems, and that’s true, and pretty accurate of wildland fire fighting, and perhaps it’s not the best strategy to employ in one’s non fire fighting life.

Perhaps, but just what constitutes a fire, really?

"Call the fire department!  This one's out of control!"

 When I began applying to graduate schools this past fall I did so knowing that it was going to be one big, enduring fire that I was going to have to devout my full attention to before I could move on to fight the next fire.  The next fire is researching the programs.  Now of course, I researched these programs somewhat before applying to them—somewhat.  I knew they all carried full-rides with teaching assistanships and were ranked high in most surveys and handbooks, as were their faculties.  But past that… and now it’s time to fight that fire.

Mizzou is particularly tricky because it’s an M.A. program.  I know from speaking with former professors, advisors, and current grad students that ideally, I want an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.  The M.F.A. in Creative Writing is a terminal degree meaning that it is the highest degree in its field and you can teach with it.  That makes sense.  Most of the M.F.A. program is spent writing your own stuff and learning teaching pedagogy so what would a PhD in Creative Writing be?  Writing a longer book?  And even though I’ve been told that an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and an M.A. in English with a Creative Writing concentration—which is the kind of M.A. Mizzou offers--are virtually comprised of the exact same classes, you can’t teach with just an M.A., meaning that a PhD in English with a concentration in Creative Writing is also required.  Hurray Academia! 

So if this equation is true;

M.A.(x) + PhD(x)  =  M.F.A. in Creative Writing, 

where x = in English with a concentration in Creative Writing,

then essentially the only difference here is the additional 3-4 years that the PhD would take to complete.  Gulp.  It’s an eerie, eerie thing to all of a sudden fast-forward to thinking of yourself at 33-yrs-old, even if that is as a 33-yr-old doctor—yeah, yeah an academic doctor, I'm going there.  Whatever.

Then again I can’t imagine that having a PhD can hurt me as a professorial job candidate.  Maybe it could really put me ahead of those M.F.A. applicants?  If an M.F.A. is the way to go,  but Mizzou's M.A. program is the only one that accepts me, would I turn it down?

These are just some of the many questions leading to the many more decisions that I’ll have to make, but finding the answers will come before making the decisions.  I've never been a good adequate planner, but you know the old saying; you can’t fight the fire until your cross the bridge first, unless the fire burns the bridge, and you never want to burn your bridges, or something like that… 

1 comment:

  1. Gor for the PhD!!!!! Than I can call you Dr. Bro :).