Monday, February 04, 2008

Mailbag for Monday February 4, 2008

It's time for a new mailbag. Questions? Concerns? Musings? Post AWP Conference news and wrap up? Please let us know.

38 comments:

susan said...

I worked the Southern Review table at AWP (I'm on the staff of TSR.) A lot of nice people and writers stopped by our table to say hi and see what was going on.

Jeramey said...

And just when I thought I could take a break and place my fate in the hands of admissions, the barrage of financial aid forms have taken over my afternoons.

This is me reminding my fellow applicants that Financial Aid data may be due soon for you. I'm working on Columbia's (due by 2/15), which requires NeedAccess in addition to the FAFSA. I know a few other schools require extra forms as well (Sarah Lawrence wants CSS, etc). Most of the deadlines that I’ve seen fall before many schools begin calling.

If you're putting it off, you may want to take a look at it and double-check what your schools want. I am finding NeedAccess to be much more complicated than the standard FAFSA I’ve done for the last four years, requesting specific estimates for 2008 (as if I had any idea what my bank account will look like in September).

Pensive495 said...

Jeramey:
When you say additional forms, are these forms independent of the institution? I've filed my FAFSA already... you mention NeedAccess...what others are there, and are they generally listed on the department website? Should I contact the departments and ask?

Jeramey said...

Pensive-

Yes, these are separate forms that basically function in the same way as the FAFSA, just with different or more in-depth info. I applied to six schools and only two of them want something in addition to FAFSA (Sarah Lawrence and Columbia, as mentioned earlier). Columbia keeps sending emails to remind me about the upcoming deadline, but I only found out about SL from their Web site (my app hasn't been in at SL for that long, however, so they may be emailing applicants as their addresses start to trickle in). My suggestion would be to check out the FAQ or Graduate Financial Aid section of your schools' Web sites…all of the ones I checked out gave some sort of deadline for what they require.

It's worth a look. Columbia requires both FAFSA and NeedAccess for all applicants, accepted or not, if they want to be considered for financial aid, which, of course, none of us would want to miss out on.

Pensive495 said...

Jeramey:
I applied to Sarah Lawrence as well. I recently received a financial aid booklet from them specifying what I need to provide. They are the only school I have received this from though, so I will have to do some navigating. I would imagine you will be receiving the same type of booklet from them in the mail shortly.
Thanks for the help!

mummy licker said...

i am so confused about all of this! i thought i needed to wait until i knew where i was going to apply. that isn't the case?

Sean said...

im still waiting for some sort of confirmation that they've recieved my applications in the first place. what's a good timeline to ask so you can find out and not annoy them? 1 was due January 3rd the other was due the 15th. so it's been five weeks for one, and three for the second. i sent them all in pretty last minute.

thoughts?

Heather said...

Sean,

Sometimes you get no notification that your application is complete. I just completed the process of calling all my schools' English or Creative Writing programs to check on the "completeness" of my apps. (If I hadn't otherwise received notification, or if the program didn't offer a website you could check.) If you're curious, I'd suggest doing the same. Since many of these programs get TONS of applications (the secretary at UMass told me they had 628 this year...yikes!) I don't think many bother sending postcards like some other grad programs do. You probably got emails from the grad school saying your app was complete with them if you applied online, but the Department is the one you really should check with.

Pensive495 said...

I'm still kind of lost on this too. I've been to several of my program sites that say I would be fully funded and say nothing about filling out FAFSA. The sites that aren't fully funded don't specify either. I filled them out anyway and have sent it to all of my schools. Short of calling each and every one of my programs to see what more they want, I don't have a clue what to do. Anyone?

Christina said...

Might as well fill out the FAFSA: you can send it to up to ten schools on the spot. And if you're independent (ie not counting your parents' income) as long as you have a W2 it takes 15-20 minutes to do. Worth just sending it anyway, in my opinion

Pensive495 said...

Right, but there's also the CSS/Profile, NeedAccess... These have early deadlines and some schools require them and don't make it clear on their websites. I'm just wondering if there are other aid forms for my schools of which I'm not aware.

Lucy said...

I'm glad to see I'm not alone in the neuroticism that accompanies waiting, waiting, waiting.

I'm wondering if any of you have advice on the following situation: My husband has applied to PhD programs at the seven schools to which I've applied. Clearly, the most important factor in our decision will be whether we've both been accepted--and if we aren't accepted to any of the same schools, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

We have been informed by several professors that whomever gets accepted first should have the director of his/her program talk to the director of the other program. This seems like a bit of a sticky situation that will require a lot of tact.

If I receive an acceptance over the phone, is it appropriate to mention that my husband is still waiting to hear from the _____ program in the _____ department? Would it be better to handle this through email? Or should I refrain from saying anything at all.

Your advice would be much appreciated.

Sean said...

For anyone curious -- the University of NH's MFA recieved 150 applications this year. Im not sure if that was specifically in Fiction or for all 3 tracks.


And for those looking at UMass - the department got 12,000 graduate school applications this year that they have to enter in by hand (including the 600 or so for the MFA) They're currently up to the 15th of January's stuff (recieved on) for those of us postmarked on the 15th, we're on the bottom


Random factoids :)

Heather said...

Lucy - I would wait before saying anything. No one should demand your 'yes' or 'no' at that moment over the phone anyway.

Also, I don't know about that director talking to director thing. It seems like an awkward position to put someone in, and, no offense intended, I don't think a director of any program (MFA or PhD) would take a situation like yours into account when making decisions on who to accept. It sounds like you and your husband have cast a wide net with 7 applications. Why not just wait and let the chips fall where they may? Hopefully you will be pleased with the results.

bpeyton said...

Does anyone very much about McNeese State University in Louisiana?

Lizzy said...

Lucy, I would not mention that at all in that first phone call. The phone call is a time for you to connect with the person doing the calling as a potential member of that program. By all means, show how enthusiastic you are about the program. If they sense that you see yourself working well in the program, it may give you an "entry" into later bringing up the issue of having a director speak to another director. Let your genuine enthusiasm for the program work for you, in other words. You're right, it's going to require a lot of tact to ask a favor of someone you don't know and with whom you are beginning a professional relationship. If the program wants you very badly, it may be relatively easier to enlist its help in helping the other spouse gain some consideration.

Honestly, I know of several couples who went through just this situation, and I don't know of any that was able to secure a position for a spouse in another department, even in the case of one woman who was such sheer brilliance I'm sure all kinds of people were bending over backward to snag her. But who know? Maybe it's exactly what happened and I just don't know. There are no limits to anyone's ignorance, including mine. I say it's worth a shot if several of your profs say it is. But be sure to establish your own footing first, before you bring up a special request. That's my gut feeling anyway.

mitocondrial said...

I'd find it helpful if people who've received acceptances or just want to say they "know of" such info. would name the specific school. Why? We all know how many slots the programs we've applied to offer, so by the process of elimination we can begin to figure out if we still have a shot or not. Thx.

Bolivia Red said...

Typically, when programs say they fund their students, that funding doesn't have anything to do with student loans or needing to fill out the fafsa. Usually that funding is a TAship or a fellowship of some kind that comes from the university. That funding will also typically include remuneration of part or all of your tuition and fees. Again, not part of the fafsa deal.

HOWEVER, I'd still fill out that fafsa now and get it in to every school you applied to now so that if you need additional student loan funding, you'll get it. That TAship doesn't ever stretch as far as you need it, especially when you need 5 root canals in the space of 18 months.

I've not heard of the CSS/Profile, NeedAccess stuff that pensive mentions, but I'd say get that filled out if your school requires it. If you go to the Need Access home page, they have a list of schools that participate. That may be an easier way to figure out if your school needs it or not instead of trolling each individual schools website.

Jeramey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeramey said...

Mitocondrial,

Check out this blog...it's exactly what you're looking for and will quickly become an obsession. I know that none of the programs I applied to usually contact people until the first week of March, yet I still find myself checking this site many times a day.

http://writingmfa2008.blogspot.com

Lucy said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Heather and Lizzy. That definitely confirmed my feelings about the issue.

I have another question along the same lines... My husband just received a rejection from one of the schools we applied to, and since it is not within driving distance of any of the other schools, we definitely won't be going there. What do I do if I am accepted by that school? I certainly don't want to be rude and immediately turn down the acceptance, but I also want to be respectful of the faculty's time and everyone on the waiting list. My thought is that I will gratefully receive the acceptance and inform them a week or so later of my predicament. But I feel so fake doing that!

Help?

Sean said...

hi lucy -

i would do what most people do when they get something they dont like: be polite. If you're no longer interested in this school because your husband didnt get in, call them today and say that while you're really appreciative of the time, you'd like to withdraw your application. voila. it saves them time that they can use on something else :)

hope that helps

Jensen Whelan said...

bpeyton,

i applied to mcneese. i have so far had really experiences with them and would be pleased to go there. it seems like a small program, but a serious one. adam johnson went there. so did the current director. i think it doesn't get as much attention as it should. they fully fund all students for three years and you can get an ma concurrently. it seems like a great program to me.

j

bpeyton said...

jensen,

thanks for the info. on the McNeese program. i applied there as well. a former professor of mine spoke highly of it, but it always helps to hear from others. from what i gathered on the program's website they sound to be one of the smallest programs around--only 10 fiction students matriculating at any one time, i think? I wonder how few students are typically accepted in a year. interesting...

i do like the prospect of earning an MA simultaneously with an MFA, and the funding is definitely promising.

does anyone out there have any thoughts on the Lake Charles area?

best of luck to you, jensen!

spillingink said...

I thought that applying to 10 schools was enough--but now I keep hearing people say things like "If I get into any of the 15 schools I applied to..." Now, I am nervous. How many schools did you guys apply to? And those of you who applied in previous years, how many did you actually get into? I know that it is different for everyone, but I don't think I can handle 10 rejections.

Alex said...

It's 8 schools for me. I wonder if it should have been more, but I limited the list a bit because this would be a family move and we looked at specific areas and opportunities for my better half.

Although, a ninth app might have sent me over the edge. By the time I finished #8 I was holding long conversations with my stapler.

Pensive495 said...

I applied to twelve programs and I'm having the same doubts as you. I saw a blog online where a guy said he applied to seventeen. I scoffed then, but now I can't help but wonder. I think it comes with the waiting territory. Whether applying to two programs or twenty, the anticipation is going to make us doubt ourselves. I think a lot of are in the same boat. I've been doing a lot of blog cruising and it seems the bulk of people applied to seven to twelve schools.

LAG said...

Is anyone else having trouble with Wilmington's application? Twice I've received e-mails telling me they haven't received my third letter of recommendation and my personal statement, but both of those are submitted online and when I log into my online application I can clearly see that they have been submitted and received! The first time Wilmington e-mailed me I replied, explaining everything to them--I even mailed a hard copy of my personal statement. They did not respond, so I assumed they figured it out. Now today (weeks later) I get an identical e-mail. What gives?

Pensive495 said...

I am not familiar with Wilmington, but I know that with Virginia, the department had received my personal statement and had not yet sent it to the graduate school...so it showed up on their site as missing. If the graduate school or the department receive the copy online, the other might be waiting for the hard copy. I called Virginia, and the receptionist let me email her my personal statement and she even walked it over for me. If in doubt, you should call the dept. I found programs' administrators to be really helpful. Hope that helps.

Samara said...

I applied to 10 schools. Got into one so far, which is all I was hoping for. I only applied to schools I'd actually want to attend.

Jess said...

I applied to five schools. I was having financial difficulty this winter, and even five was a scrape. Seventeen schools, huh? We should send that guy flowers. He must be a walking personal statement at this point! But I guess chances are, he'll get in somewhere...I'm with Samara, I limited it to schools I would say yes to without hesitation. Let's see if it works! Best of luck to all of you. I look forward to sending congrats messages soon...

TheRant said...

Yeah, I applied to 14 schools, 10 of which are out and 4 which will be out next week. I just want to get into one. I applied to only 3 schools back in 2006 and got rejected by all three, so I learned the hard way. Tom suggests in the book 8-12 so I'm sure everyone is in or around that amount.

The waiting game is pretty terrible. I woke up the other morning to a phone call from an area code that I had never seen before. I decided not to pick it up and let it go to voicemail. I was practically shaking when I entered in the password to retrieve the voicemail, and when the man in the message identified himself as a salesman for Omaha Steaks, I almost chucked my phone out the window.

As for the doubting, I'm like you guys. When I first put my applications out, I was almost crying because I thought I wouldn't get in. But now that I've had time to get away from the whole apps process, I have a lot more faith in myself. I believe that my writing samples show that I can write at a graduate level, and my readers verified that for me when I was revising. I'm sure all of you have had the same experience, so that's all we can bank on now. I wish all of you the best of luck in the coming weeks, it has been good to sympathize with you all and I look forward to doing it some more. Congrats Samara!

-The Rant

spillingink said...

Thanks guys.

And congrats, Samara!

Tine said...

Dear Lag, YES! This happened to me to with Wilmington so I called. Apparently they have two systems that have all the info and one of them is out of sync and sending emails automatically. Don't worry! It's been happening to everyone.

Samara said...

Thanks for the congrats, everyone! I was in shock, still am to a degree--after months of telling myself I might not get in anywhere, I was not expecting to hear from any place this early (Ohio State).

Sarah Perrault said...

Congratulations, Samara!

One of the profs here at UNR, Chris Coake, did the MFA at Ohio State and speaks well of it.

JeSais said...

I put all my eggs in one basket. Univ of New Mexico
deadline Feb. 1
they say they notify by mid-March.
I originally had a list of like 15 schools. Then I didn't take the GRE, so that narrowed my list to 6. Then somehow December came and went and I hadn't finished my Letters of Intent, asked my contacts for Letters, I was so focused on getting my writing sample together I totally forgot the other parts of the equation.
Bottom line is that UNM was the one place I really wanted go anyway, and I was able to pull it together and get my app in.

I studied with Greg Martin at the UNM Taos Summer Writers Conference and would love the opportunity to study with him again. So I'm hopeful. (great summer conference by the way, not so schmoozy and very focused on education. Well worth the $$

b said...

For yet another view of AWP NYC, check out:

http://awp2008.blogspot.com

Great site folks...I remember checking it religiously when I was searching for programs.