But I do want to emphasize that I'm not denying the value of MFAs. In Romania, there are writers' clubs called "Cenaclu" - and they are much closer to MFA classes than they are to book clubs, because, first off, they are usually held under the guidance of an established writer, then there is a selection process, then they tend to take themselves very seriously and they are in fact about the craft of writing (and maybe about developing a writer's ego, which is needed too).
Having (so far) abandoned the idea of getting an MFA, I have instead tried to maximize the writers' community where I've been more active, which is LitReactor. I have many writer friends who are also LitReactors, and I have written many short stories there (and started a novel) both in the fun and informal contests on LR, and in formal classes (which are a bit more costly but worth it if you're not in an MFA but want a similar experience, and where you learn a few thing from a published writer in a 4-6 weeks class). I did learn a lot from Mark Vanderpool, Craig Clevenger (author of Dermaphoria) and Chris Bram (author of Gods and Monsters). Chris Bram was particularly encouraging about the novel I'm working on.
And aside from the actual class-like environment, I want to say that there's some value (don't over-rely on that though) in getting feedback from everyone who's willing to read your work. Sometimes the feedback makes you angry and you will blacklist the person who gave it as someone who doesn't get you at all, but sometimes you'll actually realize you were doing something that only made sense to you. I don't see myself as a "beginner" anymore, but I still like feedback.