I'm going to bump this thread with an update.
I ended up not going to ICLP, and I haven't regretted it a bit. I stayed for two more semesters at the MTC (for a total of 5), and then after taking 思想與社會/Thought and Society in my last semester, I had had enough. I got a tutor, audited classes in my field, read a bunch, and did some pretty intensive work with movies and TV shows*. I applied for an MA program in a Chinese department here (despite what you all said
), and my tutor helped me through the application process, writing my study plan in Chinese, etc. Shortly after finishing that (March of this year), I started working as a freelance translator, which helped my Chinese tremendously. I'm still translating, but not as much as before because I got accepted into the program I applied for and am mostly doing that now. My Chinese has gotten another huge boost since starting the MA this semester, because I'm constantly reading, listening to, writing, and speaking Chinese. I don't know if I'll finish the MA or not before moving on a PhD program in the US, but so far it has been invaluable, despite my frustrations with the program. I recently attended a big conference in my field and made some contacts with some very influential scholars, one of whom invited me to take his class at another university here in Taipei next semester.
I wonder if any of this would have been possible had I been at ICLP. The students there are always so busy, I doubt I would have even had time to apply. I'm convinced I've made more progress than I would have at ICLP anyway, because the quantity and variety of material I've been exposed to through translation, reading, and coursework has been much greater than it would have been there. I can say, however, that the former ICLP students I know tend to have a better command of more formal language when speaking. The flip side of that coin is that some of them can't hold a normal conversation. They sound like they're giving a formal lecture when talking about the most mundane things, and have very limited feel for using the appropriate register. So they got "advanced," but awkward Chinese, and I've ended up with reasonably natural-sounding Chinese but limited ability to speak in higher registers. Either of those deficiencies can be fixed in time, of course, but I prefer what I got. I'm also something to the tune of US$10,000 ahead of where I'd be had I gone to ICLP, so I'm happy.
So anyway, I wanted to say "thank you" to those of you who offered your advice. I may have been stubborn at the time, but I came around later and I'm thrilled that I did.* I found that if you print out the subtitles, they make outstanding "textbooks." Look up the words you don't know and define them in the margins. Add in a heavy dose of shadowing and chorusing, especially for the lines that give you a hard time, and throw the audio track from the movie on your phone and listen to it over and over while on the go, and then tell me your Chinese doesn't benefit from it.