I hand out my second piece for workshop tomorrow night. Next week everybody dissects it in class. These past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking hard about the cost of the program.
Consider this: in this writing program, each semester course costs roughly $2700. We meet once a week for 13 weeks in a course. That’s an easy $210 per class. If we critique three pieces per class, that’s $70 per piece. So if I fart onto a stack of papers, and then hand those in, I’ve just wasted $70. And each person in the class is spending $70 to, essentially, find the nicest ways they can think of to tell me that my farts stink. Something I should know very well by now.
So that’s each person. Including me, there are nine people in this workshop. My fart paper is actually wasting $630, $70 from me and $560 from all my classmates. On top of that, at the beginning of the workshop semester, we’re told that whatever we turn in should go toward our thesis project. So now the total is $630 from the critique and whatever fraction of $2700 is lost when the I take my final thesis course.
Here’s another thing: the curriculum is nine classes long. This means the total cost of the degree is just over $24,000. That’s a sizable amount of money, and as someone who’s still working off his own college debt, that number scares me. Fortunately, I get tuition remission through Hopkins, so 98% of my costs here are covered: I’m actually only paying about $4 per class. But not everyone in the class gets tuition remission, and so this is money coming right out of their pockets.
The lesson here? Writing programs are f’ing expensive. In fact, this program is one of the most profitable for the university.
People, if you want to be writers, just write. Find a group of like-minded people and form a workshop group. Save your money. Please, just save your money.*
* Unless you work for a university who’ll give you tuition remission for their writing program.