Saturday, April 08, 2006

Wyoming or Emerson?

Dubious in Denver writes:

First, thanks for the blog-- Immensely helpful. I (as everyone else it seems) wish I would have discovered this before I started applying and especially before I made the uninformed choice to only apply to 5 mfa programs. (One of those programs lost my application, knocking me down to four! Had I applied to 8 programs, on the other hand... =) )

I am in a rather precarious position now. I've been waitlisted at one school (fully funded, great program). The other two I have been accepted to, however, are a little less clear.

So, my two questions really relate to making this decision:

-First, do you know anything about Wyoming's program?

-Second: I've been accepted at Emerson with the possibility of a teaching assistantship second year (and horrible funding), and at Wyoming with no possiblity of a teaching assistantship (but it's very cheap) That said, I really want to teach post-college. So, how important do you think teaching is...i.e If you don't teach in your mfa, will you still have a good shot at getting a teaching job after?

DiD, your publishing resume will factor very large in teaching opportunites post-MFA. That's the number one thing. But a close second is teaching experience. I've heard good things about the Wyoming program, but no specifics come to mind. And no red flags come to mind either. If I were you: I'd choose Wyoming over Emerson. We've talked about Emerson and the funding problems there. A main focus of this blog and book is to keep yourself viable as a writer by not going into too much debt.

And if you do choose Wyoming, I'd look into teaching opportunities in that community. Are there classes inside or outside the English department where you can TA? Are there community colleges where you can teach? Is there a Writers in Schools program? Could you start one of these programs? You could also look into teaching during the summer at a variety of programs for high school writers. The Johns Hopkins programs, which are all over the country come to mind. There are others as well. Do some Google work. It seems that you might have to scramble to get some teaching experience, but I'd encourage you to make that a priority. If you look hard enough, you'll find something.

I hope my answer was helpful in some way. Let us know how it goes.