Monday, August 20, 2007

Tips on Reapplying

zooeyincharge writes:

i would really love to see a 'tips on reapplying' thread. often times they say you can reapply in the next year or so with solely a new writing sample. given the fact that admissions people are too busy to tell you what was wrong with the first writing sample (which i understand is 98% or so of one's admission) it would be great to have any kind of advice on reapplying.

Any advice from anyone who's successfully reapplied or currently in the process of reapplying would be much appreciated.

Given my research on the CW MFA blog, the most selective programs, which also tend to be the ones that offer full financial aid packages covering tuition and a living stipend (e.g. Cornell, Brown, Syracuse, Texas Michener, Wisconsin-Madison, Oregon, etc.) only take 4-6 people per year per genre. I think it pays to apply to both highly selective programs and less selective ones. Look on a program's website to see if it brags about only accepting X people per year; if it doesn't mention how many people it accepts, chances are it isn't as selective. Did you only apply to selective programs the first time around? (For instance, if you're a fiction writer who only applies to Syracuse, Cornell, and Brown there are only about 15 seats up for grabs in all three combined.) If you're reapplying, or even applying for the first time, consider having a bunch of "safety schools" just in case.

Some less obvious advice: why not apply to different programs than the first time around? I mean, do you really want to be rejected by the same program twice? Chances are your style didn't mesh with the evaluators there; why not look for someplace else where it might get a better reception? If there's a program you're crazy about that you didn't get into last year and want to go for again (of course no one can stop you) at least ask yourself why it's so important to get into that program. You can learn to write well at any school if you apply yourself; you can learn to write well outside of school if you apply yourself. So in a nutshell, my advice would be: (1) broaden your net and (2) look for new places. Any other comments?


Avimaan said...

I'd be interested to see if anyone else had anything to add to this. The thing is I really liked most of my choices from last year. I thought I had a good stable of choices. And, long story short, I messed up my application up pretty badly. Here's some advice for everyone: Don't apply from abroad.

Basically I cut a novel excerpt in a really poor way. This year I'm focusing on giving two really solid short stories to the schools (which I have), so now I'm unsure whether or not to apply to similar schools, or if I want to include schools I'm a little less excited about, etc. I still believe in aiming big.

So, did anyone else come to a solid conclusion about reapplying? I feel good and confident about my writing and style, but the whole process leaves me feeling weary, jaded. I dunno.

Keely H. said...

I applied to all top-tier schools the first time around and am jettisoning several of my original choices in favor of less selective schools. I am, however, keeping my top two choices- Brown and UT Austin because I would regret not giving them another go. My thoughts on the matter are that it's such a long and difficult process to complete. I have no way of knowing why I was not accepted the first time, so it is probably smart to change any variables that I am comfortable with changing this time around to help increase the probability that the outcome will be different.

aliyaa said...

A letter of recommendation llm can make a huge impact on your application. Well done!