Thursday, June 22, 2006

MFA, no B.A.

Chomping at the Bit in Indianapolis writes...

What is your advice for a writer who truly feels READY for graduate level work, and would like to go ahead and apply for the Low-Res MFA at various top schools, preferably skipping the B.A. altogether?

My situation: I am a 37-year-old returning undergrad at IU's Indianapolis campus. At the senior level, I've completed one year as a creative writing major, with intensive workshops in fiction and nonfiction. I am also doing an independent study in poetry. I have published one poem (online mag), one story/essay (Mississippi Review online), and placed an upcoming essay in Alimentum. I've won local awards at the college level. I've also received a scholarship to the IU Writers' Conference, which I attended last week, and got an enthusiastic, voluntary offer of an MFA recommendation letter from Richard McCann, my multiple-award-winning workshop leader, in addition to strong rec letter commitments from my school faculty. AND I already do professional freelance design, writing and editing for the crafts industry. Working independently is my strong point, easily demonstrated.

I am beginning to see my time as an undergrad as wasted and frustrating. Please help with any advice you may have.

Chomping, I can see your frustrastion, but there's one issue that's going to be a huge problem: You're not going to find many MFA programs who accept students without undergraduate degrees. If any, really. It is a masters program.

So, my advice: Hang in there. If you're a senior this year, then you can go ahead and apply anyways, right? Change your reading list. Shake things up. Push yourself this senior year and make the most of it. Rock on.

5 comments:

Jason MacLeod said...

I just found this sentence on the Warren Wilson low residency MFA admissions page, "The Program accepts a small number of students without Bachelor's degrees but these applicants must prove exceptional." So it looks like it is possible at least there. But I'd keep in mind that Warren Wilson's general acceptance rate is only 10 - 15% so as an "exception" you'd likely be looking at a lower chance than that. That's not at all to say don't apply--just that you'll likely have to do a strong job pitching youself and your situation to them.

jeff said...

A close friend is currently a playwrite mfa at Columbia. She has no BA, dropped out of high school, got her GED. She's in her 40s, in her first year in the program. But they sawed off her arm and leg in exchange. Is that price too high? Regardless, it can be done. She'd produced several of her plays previously.

Meredith said...

i know someone without a ba who was allowed to apply to iowa, brown, and columbia last year. he got into columbia but couldn't afford to go.

Becky said...

Milton Avery, the graduate program for Bard College, also doesn't require a BA to apply to their low-res MFA program. They say that "an applicant's life experience may take the place of an undergraduate degree."

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