Just because we don’t believe in aesthetic standards as a culture doesn’t mean we aren’t making constant aesthetic judgments that rely on a wide range of hierarchies:
[Study authors] found that writers ‘with an elite degree (Ivy League, Stanford, University of Chicago) are nine times more likely to win than those without one. And more specifically, those who attended Harvard are 17 times more likely to win.’ They found that half of the prize-winners with an MFA “went to just four schools: [University of] Iowa, Columbia, NYU, or UC Irvine. Iowa has special clout: its alumni ‘are 49 times more likely to win compared to writers who earned their MFA at any other program since 2000.’”
I find the author’s conclusion inspiring:
Today when asked for advice about how to be a writer, I say: Find writing you love and follow it. Make those writers your writers. Read each other, publish each other, create literature that speaks from where you are.
You don’t need a BA to do this, much less an MFA. We need to rebuild cultural institutions outside the confines of our academic-media-publishing complex.