Friday, February 01, 2008

Decisions, decisions...

Question from A in North Carolina....

Hi, Tom,

First off, thank you for all the work you put into your blog. I have applied to several MFA programs in fiction and, in the past months, your blog has been a great resource.

I recently received a fabulous offer from one of my top-five schools. I know I have until April 15th to make a decision, but out of respect for the program I'd like to make a choice sooner. That said, I don't feel comfortable making a commitment without hearing back from other schools. Do you think there is any value in calling or writing one or more of my top-choice programs to let them know I was accepted into another program? Would that expedite the process? I'm afraid it might sound like I'm playing a game--trying to get extra attention--when really I'm acting out of respect.

Thanks for your time, Tom, and for your consideration.

Best,
----------

Thanks for the question. First things first: every writing teacher in the U.S. is in New York, at the AWP. So, you'll get nothing done this week no matter what.

Second, it's awesome that you're trying to be respectful of the program by giving them an answer now. That said, don't. Unless you know for sure that it's your pick. They've offered it, and they won't take it away.

My advice: sit tight for the next two weeks. See what comes your way. If you don't hear something by Feb 15ish, then I think it's okay to send emails to those other programs.

And congratulations!


22 comments:

Anna said...

Anyone know of any websites that have started accruing 2008 decision notifications? It's getting to be about that time, I suppose, since at least one of our ranks has already received good news!

Danielle said...

http://sethabramson.blogspot.com/2008/01/2008-data-bank-of-application-response.html

http://writingmfa2008.blogspot.com/

Andrew said...

How common is it for MFA applicants to be suffering some level of depression during their wait? I'm not saying I'm depressed, and maybe it's just the result of another brutally cold Minnesota winter, but the more I think about getting those rejection calls, the more I sink. Am I alone here?

JoeyD said...

Andrew, sort of feeling the same way, especially since I was only able to apply to three schools, and the chances are...slim to none. Sure, life goes on and all that. But it doesn't feel any better in the moment.

miriam said...

I would definitely wait a while--I didn't hear anything until Feb 13, I think, and it was from a school I wasn't excited about. A few weeks later I started getting realy really good offers from much better schools. So wait, and when it comes time to decide, let all the schools know you've gotten really good offers. It may allow them to up their funding offers to you, if that's flexible in their particular cases.

Samara said...

I got my first acceptance last week, too, and I wonder if "A in North Carolina" and I heard from the same school--one of the profs there told me they are the only school she knows of that notifies people that early. I'm sitting tight until mid March before I make any decisions--I wasn't expecting to hear anything until at least February. Not that I'm complaining!

Lizzy said...

Andrew, I can't say with clinical certainty, but I would bet a lot of people get the blues while they wait. I definitely did last year, right around this time.

Think about it: for months you've been pouring all your energies into this one project--planning, looking forward, pumping yourself up. Suddenly, there's nothing to do but wait, even as you know that you're waiting for possibly awful news. Combine that with the winter blahs, and you have a perfect recipe for those waiting blues.

Now is the time to throw yourself into some other project. If you have a job, try to focus on that. Read. Try to catch up on those books you know you want to read--this will help pass the time in a constructive way and will help you get ready for school when it begins in fall. Read a lot of Flannery O'Connor, and Richard Ford, and Denis Johnson, and Robert Coover ;-)

It gets brighter in any case as spring nears. You WILL feel better. Also, as news starts trickling in, you will feel some of the old excitement and hope return. And the news will not be as bad as you imagine, in the end. Even if you get turned down everywhere, you will feel better prepared for a second round of applications, after your experiences this year. But really, there's a lot to look forward to. The worst of it is now, I think, when you have all this time to do nothing but imagine the worst.

Pensive495 said...

In my case, I wouldn't even call it depression...more an awful sense of foreboding. If I had skimped on the effort I would at least have something to blame other than my own talent. Having put everything I have into application really messes with my insecurity. Rejection's the easy part, waiting is the killer.
For what it's worth, I'm with ya trying to stay upbeat!

Suzanne Reisman said...

It's an anxious time for me, that's for sure.

Anna said...

I'm so glad to have this forum to discuss these issues. I'm definitely feeling bummed, especially since some people have already gotten good news. I know it's very early in the process, but I just want to get in SOMEWHERE (if for no other reason than so that I know I won't have to stick around at my current job!).

r.p. said...

I have something like butterflies, but angry butterflies in my stomach. And yes, that sinking feeling of being rejected by all eleven schools I applied to. I keep thinking about Cornell, Iowa, and WI-Madison. They will be calling their admittants the next week or two...

Pensive495 said...

This is probably the most obvious of possible questions on a blog like this, but as I look through my resources, I'm still left wondering...What do you all think MFA programs want? A tentative answer might ease the minds of a lot of anxious applicants. Do they look for promise in writers, or do they want wonderfully crafted stories from the get go? Are they looking for experience...or raw talent? Anyone?

caitlin said...

Ugh, I make myself absolutely nauseous every day at work thinking about not getting in. I never did this for undergrad (I applied to UF and got in...that's it). I can't imagine being 17 and having to go through this! I'm barely making it through each day at 22!!! Good luck to everyone :)

Andrew said...

Misery certainly loves company. In a way, I'm glad to see if I've got friends in despair. Thank you to Danielle for posting links to the application response sites. Unfortunately, I'm spending a lot of time on that site hitting refresh. Waiting on responses from: Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, E. Washington and Minnesota State.

I think...I hope any MFA program is looking for a solid foundation. They're not trying to go Extreme Home Makover on a shanty, yet they don't want to go Bob Vila and start from the ground up. You need a certain set of tools, I believe, and with any luck, you've proven these are present with your sample. After that, I would imagine they're looking for someone who is intuitive, passionate and borderline obsessed with their craft. As someone who applied to Arizona, I got a lot out of a 15-minute video posted on their Web site. I think everyone would feel better about themselves after viewing it.

Pensive495 said...

I took a look at that video. It was helpful. If anyone else is interested, I put the link below.

http://english.arizona.edu/index_site.php?id=470

stacylynn said...

I don't really have anxiety because I don't expect to hear anything until mid March, anything I hear before that, I will just be happily surprised! I find this period wonderful, I can enjoy doing things I couldn't do when I had to focus on applications and the whole situation is out of my hands. Just think guys, worrying about it won't change the outcome. Just relax!

CrazyInAlabama said...

Wow Stacylynn! I admire your Pollyanna optimism, but I relate much more to Andrew. I have been SO down. I feel like my whole life is in limbo-which I guess it is. A lot of sitting around biting my nails and checking sites to see if anyone has been accepted. I'm neglecting my schoolwork; my job; and I'm not writing a thing. Of course I know this is all counterproductive (ie., if I don't graduate I can't go to grad school even if I do get in, etc. etc.), but the inability to plan the next year is paralyzing my psyche. Just by the way, for you guys and stuff, this anxiety is almost identical to the feeling I had in my last month of pregnancy.
When you're ready, and uncomfortable, and everything that is to come is unknown. Hmmm...probably similar to terminal illness, too.

Yikes. No one will accuse me of being Pollyanna-like.

adam J kenworthy said...

I have a nagging feeling to have a contingency plan, to somehow distract me from thinking of those letters in the mail with their generic, Sorry.
I have never before been so persuaded by the thought of what a healthy monetary bribe might do.

martha grover said...

I applied to nine programs last year and drove myself crazy worrying about where I would get in. As it turned out I got into George Mason and decided I didn't want to live in Fairfax. This year has only provided me room to improve my writing and really research the schools (and locales) I've applied to. I guess my point is: you never know what the future will bring and remember- there is always a silver lining if you don't get into your top choice.

Rambler said...

I put my last application in the mail yesterday and did my Fafsa today. I thought a huge wave of relief would wash over me. Instead, I experienced a huge wave of despair? Uncertainty? Sadness? Not really sure, but it sure wasn't relief. And no, I haven't been writing (my nerves won't allow it), but I have been reading for pleasure. Trying to fill my soul back up.

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