I enjoyed the company of my fellow students in what was in effect a giant writers group. Were they all good writers or even good critics of each other's work? No. But the enthusiasm for writing and reading was powerful. I can still remember finding a friend at lunch who was glowing because she'd been reading Richard Wilbur's "The Mind-Reader."
But the program as a whole was worth it for a few important reasons. The first is that the Arkansas program is a long program–60 hours if you come in with a Bachelor’s degree. That’s four years, fully-supported if you want to teach. That’s a lot of time to develop as a writer, and man did I need it. I don’t think I started doing anything approaching marginal work until my third year; I exploded in my fourth.