You’re not getting an MFA to get funded by an MFA program, nor to have a good teaching load, nor to move somewhere with an ideal cost of living. You’re getting an MFA to have your writing taken seriously by serious writers who you respect. There’s no way of knowing ahead of time if someone is going to be a great teacher and especially not if they’re going to be a great teacher for you. But I swear that anyone who tries to tell you teachers are not the most important part of an MFA program has been spending too much time on the internet. Don’t buy it. Put the rankings down.
Pick up the books of the faculty. Pick up the books of the alumni. Try to talk to people who actually go to these programs. They aren’t the ones voting in these rankings. But they are people who can tell you if a young faculty member is bright and full of energy or bewildered and doesn’t know how to handle graduate students. They can tell you if the Pulitzer winner is never going to learn your name or is going to keep meeting with you four years after you graduate. Read about the programs. Don’t go into debt—or do—but make your decision about your writing and the writers you want to work with first, and money after. Don’t buy these rankings. I mean really, don’t buy the actual rankings. Tell your friends not to too and hopefully, someday soon, Poets & Writers will stop printing them.
from Letter to an MFA Applicant by Samuel Amadon writing for Coldfront magazine.