Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Narrative Undergraduate Grades

GPA (Gradeless Poet in Apprehension) writes...

Thanks for sharing your knowledge via handbook and blog; it has made the labyrinth of selecting and preparing to apply to MFA programs far easier to navigate, and boy, do I appreciate it! In 2002, I earned my BA in Creative Writing and Literature at Antioch College, a somewhat non-traditional liberal arts school in southern Ohio where grades are issued not in the form of a letter or numeric score, but in the form of detailed and sometimes lengthy narrative evaluations. I performed well (for the most part!) as an undergrad, which is clear from my transcripts. However, I do not have a GPA and am wondering if this will exempt me from consideration for MFA programs with minimum GPA requirements.

In your experience, are narrative evaluations a setback for students applying to graduate-level CW programs? If so, do you have any advice on how I might ameliorate my situation? I should mention that having the evaluations converted to letter grades is not possible.

I want to add that GPA's email footer reads "you gotta bite into life like it's a great big hunk of bison." I like that. I'm not sure that I know what it means. But I definitely like it.

GPA, this won't be a big issue. You'll be selected based on your writing sample primarily and things like your personal statement and letters secondarily. As long as you have an undergraduate degree, you're good to go.

If you're really concerned about it, I'd address it in your personal statement in some way. In fact, if I were you I'd simply talk about what you did and learned in undergraduate studies and let that stand on its own. I actually wouldn't mention it.


Anonymous said...

I also graduated from an "alternative school" (New College of U.S.F.) (and years ago) and applied to MFA progs last fall. It wasn't a problem at all. Only one school had an issue with it. On some of the online apps, my school wasn't listed in the education section, but that was easily dealt with. The only way I feel it limited me was in that I decided not to apply to Minnesota since they require the lit subject test for students who graduated from schools that provide narrative evals in lieu of grades, and I wasn't going to spend time studying for that test just for one school. Other than that I was pleased to find that it didn't limit me. Best of luck!

BlueVelveeta said...

Thanks, anonymous. Minnesota was actually the very school that prompted my question (I even flipped through a prep book for the Lit subject test and determined I'd be laughed out of the testing center), and I'm glad to hear that they're an exception.