Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March Madness Mailbag

Thought at least one mailbag for March is necessary, since the last one now lurks half-way down the main page. Whatever questions or concerns you have, we might just have an answer or two. Or we could talk b-ball.


Sean said...

Okay so...

I have officially been rejected to the three schools i applied to. But hope is not lost...i've also recently been on the job hunt, reconsidered a few things and plan to tackle the grad school application process much as i did the job hunting process.

My question then becomes -- when is an appropriate time to begin this process all over again with applications et al? Many admissions committees are probably celebrating their survival, but for those of us out in the cold this year, where do we go from here?


Jesse Thiessen said...

I have started the process of getting application materials ready for the fall (Early it may be, but I'm also applying to twelve schools!) and have two questions.

1) I always thought previous publication and/or "recognition" was unnecessary when applying for programs, but a friend of mine who's also going through the application process told me otherwise, claiming that I had no chance of being accepted anywhere worthwhile if I hadn't at least published pieces or gotten a grant to write or so forth. She also gave me an extensive list of pretty notable literary names who she claims personally told her all this information, in addition to conversations with current MFA students. This is obviously still hearsay at its core, but I'm obviously still concerned.

2) I just finished two writing classes in which I felt I really shined, and I'd like both professors from those classes to write me a letter of rec. Should I ask them now, while their memories of me are fresh, or should I wait until closer to fall?

Thanks so much!
- Jesse

Bolivia Red said...

1--total crap ( I and seven of the nine other students in my cohort didn't have any publications). Programs are looking for potential and promise, not publications. It can't hurt, but it's not a requirement in the least. (Ok, maybe there's one egomaniacal school out there that requires all their recruits to have publications, but I'm not aware of it.) I had only been writing seriously for one year when I got in to the MFA, no publications to speak of.

As far as the grants and so forths, also not necessary. You do need to show that you will make a good grad student and be able to handle the work load, but you can do that by showing you've held down a job or participated in glee club or are in some other way mildly responsible. The fact that you're starting the app process now and not waiting until, say October, says something positive.

2. Ask your professors now, while they still love and remember you and your work. Maybe you can give them a deadline for after the end of the semester, when they're not so busy, but before they go vaction for the summer and get a whole new crop of work and students next fall.

Bolivia Red said...


For the next five days, you are allowed to eat as much chocolate and pizza as you want, and you have a free pass to watch every sappy sports-movie or romantic comedy you desire.

Starting next Monday, you are on a nine-month plan. You will clean the house. You will take an extra 20 minute walk everyday to work off that pizza. You will go to the library or the bookstore and get a gigantic stack of books. You will go to the office supply store and get a stack of paper and pens (ok, use the computer if you want).

In the next two weeks, or before the end of the semester when your old profs/recommenders flee for the summer, try to sit down with them (or by email) to have them give you pointers on your application materials and portfolio stuff. And I mean, give them your materials and get a critique. (at the very least, go to the school writing lab or career service to have them check out your non-portfolio stuff)

For the next 4-6 months, do some serious reading and a whole lotta writing and rewriting so you have some great stuff for your portfolio.

Over summer, consider going to a writing conference or class where you'll get some workshop and face time with real writing professors who teach in MFA programs. Tell them you're applying to MFAs in the fall and ask for tips on applying and on your portfolio materials. Also a great way to scope out potential schools and profs.

I assume you did the GRE, but if not, also start a study plan now so that you take it by the end of summer (no later than 15 August!!)

At some point in early summer, reevaluate your recommenders (get in touch with them if you're going to use them again). Decide if they were the right ones and line up new ones if you need to. Consider taking a class over summer. Let the prof know at the beginning of the class that you'd like to be able to ask for a rec at the end so she'll pay attention.

Beginning in August or September, look at schools again and spend significant time evaluating which ones are really for you and where you think you'll fit.

Get your portfolio stuff critiqued by good readers. If there's any way to get your old profs or recommenders to re-read your portfolio stuff, that would be great. If not, get somebody to read it who can help you.

Again, early Aug/Sept, re-read TKs book and the blog. You'll probably see a lot of good advice you missed the first time around. Take out that SOP and the other non-portfolio materials and do a significant overhaul. Programs are looking for your development as a writer and reader, your particular writing interests, and what makes you interesting and unique.

Consider applying to more than three schools for your next round. It seems like the consensus is 9-12 (maybe 6 at the very least).

Good luck.

Sean said...

hi Bolivia -

I just printed out your reply and hung it on my door. The timeline is mostly what i'm thinking with one big difference: number of schools. After doing the job hunting thing... I think i'm really going to throw a big net out there...

Most schools will waive the application fee if you make a certain level of income...which i make. So I agree 9-12 sounds like a very reasonable number, thirty (if you knew me, you'd roll your eyes) sounds even better. We'll see what happens though. I appreciate the feedback and will certainly be taking it to heart.

Always next year :)

- Sean

Pensive495 said...

Any thoughts?

I've been rejected from eight schools. I'm still waiting on Virginia. Here is my list otherwise...

-Pitt: Accepted (3 years, no fund)
-Sarah Lawrence: Accepted (2 years no funding)
-BGSU: Waitlisted (ten waitlisted for 5 slots...all accepted receive full funding)

April 15th is coming pretty fast. Can I accept an offer from SLC or Pitt, and then retract if I receive an offer from BGSU? What if it's after April 15th?

Also, should BGSU not come through, which do you think is a better program, SLC or Pitt?

Any thoughts would be appreciated!:)

Marie London said...

Pensive495: You most certainly can accept SL's and Pitt's offers and wait to hear from BGSU. If you send in your deposit, which they are likely to want you to do, you may not get it back, so hold off on sending that in. I hear good things about both programs, I went to Pitt for undergrad and had friends who majored in writing. They loved it, and they especially love Chuck Kinder (some say he is Michael Chabon's inspiration for Wonder Boys--though he doesn't like that: Anyway, he is an interesting character, and highly regarded there.

And to JESSE: I concur #1 is absolute BUNK, it is ALL about the writing.

Megan said...

Does anyone have any input on CalArts? It's looking to be my best option, as the only other program I was accepted to is a new one (UCR at Palm Desert--I'm not certain how good an idea it is to go to a program that was just established a few years ago). CalArts has at least been around a while, and has more opportunities, but it's so expensive--is it worth the money? I think I may be able to get a partial scholarship or some type of editorial internship or teaching opportunity at some point, but I'm sure I'm still going to be taking a big hit to my nearly nonexistent bank account. Any advice?

Also, does anyone else find themselves wondering if they're ready for this? Maybe it's just low esteem leftover from my childhood, but I'm beginning to wonder if this is the right time or not. I'm trying not to take 8 rejections as an indication that I'm not ready, after all, most of my schools were "ranked" programs with a lot of competition, but I'm just wondering if anyone else suddenly feels overwhelmed or unsure.


Sean said...

My confidence as a writer took an A-Bomb hit when i was a sophomore in college and my writing process-turned-mentor told me that my characters were ciphers and I wasnt hard enough on my life. I went from writing 2000 words a day to nothing and i'm still trying to get back up on the horse. What I told him, and in conversation since then, is that being a writer is a state of mind. it's looking at something and describing it in words in your head, in looking at the way two people walk down the street and you wonder where they've been, who they are, and where they're going. I firmly believe that you can be a writer without writing anything "substantial" ever. There are plenty of people who mill out garbage every day and make oodles of money doing it. Getting an MFA isnt a piece of paper that tells you you're a writer. It cannot bestow you the ability to look at the world with that light. It says that you have had a certain level of experience, and have done a certain number of things. Plenty of people are successful writers and hold no degree, likewise there are some people with MFAs who are lousy. I think it's important to remember that it's a crap shoot. Ive worked as an editor on small literary magazines...sometimes i dont like the first paragraph and then skip onto the next thing because i have fifty other pieces to read by the afternoon. Sometimes i like the title and it'll carry me through a rocky beginning to the ending. I'd say before you start down the path think about what you hope to gain from an MFA. This isnt a teaching degree (as i was told again and again by mentors)it's an arts degree with all the yupee high mindedness (good and bad) that comes with it. We are ar-teests! A lot of MFAers get annoyed when someone says "i just want to teach!" ... then why are you in an MFA? You should want to write...

Now i'm rambling. Think about what you want to do, and go for it. Read a lot, revise a lot, and for god's sake put your applications out early. Last minute will DOOM YOU!

- Sean

Samara said...

Megan--I'm so glad you posted your concerns, because I was just about to do the same thing. Actually, while I do have some concerns about readiness (mostly because writing in any sort of volume is still new to me), it's more just like, Oh my god, am I a making a huge mistake? I got into two programs I like, both fully funded. If I can fast forward to September and know that everything will be okay, then I am incredibly excited. But other times I am COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT. I have a husband and i have to worry about his well being too. We have a wonderful house, decent work lives, and no leeway for financial disaster. So when I think about picking up and moving to a strange city, him having to find a job (and he's a reporter, like there are any opportunities there), having to sell our house--or, alternately, try to rent it long distance, potentially going into debt, having bad tenants, no tenants, etc.--I have a meltdown. I feel like I'm responsible for my husband's happiness, because it's my decision to just give up our lives here. And for what? A degree with almost no payoff in terms of long term career/financial stability. I mean, I don't need an MFA to write, do I? But I want to be in school, I want to be in a workshop, so badly. I know my writing will improve because of it. But last night i was just thinking, maybe I should give up on the whole idea. Write on my own. Go to school for something practical. Let my husband's career call the shots. The path of least resistance. Maybe do a low-res program, which given my work habits and personality, I know in my heart is not for me.

As you can see, I'm wallowing. Anyone else out suffering severe anxiety about this transition at the moment?

Samara said...

An amendment: I know I'm not going to give up on the idea. But that was an example of how crazy I was feeling last night.

Speak Coffee said...

Sean: when dealing with the people who poo-poo to the notion of "I just want to teach" know that they need to be reminded that an MFA is the minimum degree needed to teach writing at the college level. If you want to teach you're not likely to get the spot w/out it. And ar-teest need to eat too. So aside from a wealthy patron or becoming the next Stephen King (which makes most 'ar-teest' types shudder) most writers are associated with a university (i.e. they teach). Or they take everyday jobs. I hear Lee Young-Li was a garbage man for a while.

Brittany said...

Well, things aren't looking great. I have three rejections, one wait list, and waiting on 3 (for fiction).

I really want to take a workshop either online or somewhere close to where I live, but the costs are astronomical! I'm just a preschool teacher, so I live paycheck to paycheck...$750 for 10 weeks is just not possible for me. Unless I want to forgo eating for 3 months.

So my question is, does anyone know of any "good" and "cheap" workshops out there? Is Gotham online any good? Any suggestions would be great...thanks guys!

Elizabeth said...

So I applied to 12 schools, and so far I've gotten rejected from five and haven't heard a peep from the remaining seven. (Hell hath no torments like waiting for MFA responses). My question is - when should I start picking up the phone to ask for replies? I know April 15 is a good three weeks off, and a lot can happen in that time. But I'm -really- hoping -someplace- will take (and fund) me, and I would like to visit said place before I make a decision. I'm beginning to wonder about the time frame for that. Assuming I don't die of wait-agony first. Any thoughts? Much appreciated.

JoeyD said...

I'm in a screwy place where I'm freaking out sometimes and feeling very uncertain on my best days. Only applied to three programs--got into one that is expensive and doesn't fund, and I haven't heard anything from the other two (although I've checked Seth's 2008 response database and UC Riverside has already contacted their first choices by phone...guess I'm just waiting for the rejection letter at this point).

And since I'm of the 'non-traditional student' variety (ie old[er]; took a circuitous, ten-year-long route from BA to MFA), the situation makes it that much more stressful. But the fiance is extremely supportive and she's excited for me, and I'm pretty sure that I would be miserable if I didn't follow through with this.

Aside from the above issues, I'm feeling massive self-doubt about the quality of my workshop submissions. What if I'm the shittiest writer? What if my feedback to the others suck because their work is just too good?

The self-flagellation never seems to stop...

Megan said...


Wow, your thoughts sound EXACTLY like mine. I thought that once the acceptances and rejections were finished, I would feel so much better, but I'm far from being anxiety free. But instead of having to worry about selling my house like you, I simply have to worry about having a huge loan for, like you said, "a degree with almost no payoff in terms of long term career/financial stability." And I don't have to worry about my partner, because going to either of my schools will actually take me much closer to him (long distance relationship from California to Wisconsin is not easy), but, like you, I so want to be in school and to take workshops, but is it worth the money the complete relocation of my life? How are we to know ahead of time if this is worth it?

I guess both of us, and anyone else with doubts, will just have to trust our instincts/hearts to make the right decision. And if your husband is supportive enough, perhaps he may just have to take a different type of job until you get your degree, at which point you can move to a city where his career can hopefully take off. I definitely don't envy you having to consider another person's life with your decision, but it's good to hear someone else with the same anxieties. Good luck.

Piglet said...

So I guess I just don't know what to do at this point. I've been officially rejected by 6, accepted an NMSU (for fiction, and I'm on the waitlist for a graduate assistantship with no idea how likely it is that I will get one). I'm still waiting on responses from UCI, Oregon, and UNC-Wilmington, and from what I've heard those first two have already let all of their acceptances know. I sent an email to UNCW inquiring after my application, no reply yet. I also applied where I'm currently attending for undergraduate work, but that situation is complicated and I'm pretty sure I don't want to say here anyway.

NMSU wants an answer by April 15th, of course. So what do I do? Should I go for a visit? It's a 21+ hour drive from where I live. A brief look at flight and hotel packages revealed that this is going to cost me at least $500-$600, not to mention somehow getting from El Paso to Las Cruces (apparently I'm too young to rent a car). I don't really have that kind of money sitting around for a trip to a *potential* school, and speaking of money, I really can't make it attending NMSU if I don't have funding without going into debt (and I don't want to do that for an MFA). My spring break is the same week as theirs, so that's not a good time to visit. If I want to try and attend a workshop there and get a good feel for the faculty and other students, I'm going to have to miss a day or two of school here.

Argh. Someone please help me figure out the next step!

I've seen people on this blog and Seth Abramson's speak of getting acceptances after the 15th (usually from a waitlist or what have you). Is that really a firm deadline for accepting a school's admittance? What happens if another decision needs to be made after that date?

I was ecstatic when I found out I'd been accepted, and now I'm feeling a little down about it because that's looking like my only acceptance, and I won't be able to attend without funding, which is a tenuous possibility at best.

And if I may be a whiny brat for a moment, I'm extremely happy for everyone who has gotten accepted to their dream schools, but boy do I feel like a loser when I see posts on the acceptances blogs where people have been accepted to 3 or 4 big-name schools with full really makes me think that I was stupid to try this at all.

Okay, whining over. Bring on the advice!

Samara said...

JoeyD--I'm with you; in my saner moments I have known that I will be miserable if I don't do this. I have also waited awhile--well, I graduated from college 8 years ago. My husband is supportive, but my personality is such that I translate that into guilt on my end! Yeah, it sucks. But then I envision a scenario where all the logistical details work out, and I feel elated at the prospect of going back to school. That tells me I really am doing the right thing, but there are so many hoops to jump through. And to think I thought my worries would be over once I turned in my applications.
Megan and all of you stressing out--solidarity!

Samara said...

Piglet--don't feel like a loser! I got the sense that at least one of those dream school people had been at it for many years before applying. Are you still in undergrad? If so, maybe you just want to take another year to think it over, write some more, apply to more schools, and see if you have more options later on. Or, maybe funding will come through with NMSU--also, do they offer any money for visits? Some schools do, usually $200-$300, I think.

Lincoln said...

1) I always thought previous publication and/or "recognition" was unnecessary when applying for programs, but a friend of mine who's also going through the application process told me otherwise, claiming that I had no chance of being accepted anywhere worthwhile if I hadn't at least published pieces or gotten a grant to write or so forth. She also gave me an extensive list of pretty notable literary names who she claims personally told her all this information, in addition to conversations with current MFA students. This is obviously still hearsay at its core, but I'm obviously still concerned.

It probably doesn't hurt, but it is definitely not required.

I'd say the vast majority of people in my MFA program and at the MFA programs where I know people have little to no publications. In fact, most people don't even seem to submit until after MFA programs.

I wouldn't worry about this.

Sarah Perrault said...

Hi Piglet,

I can't help with the decision, but I can say that Las Cruces is a lovely town, the natural and bird life around there is amazing, and, as you've noticed, it's really freakin' far from any major city. As I recall, they were offering some travel/visit money for PhD acceptees a few years ago, and it certainly can't hurt to ask.

The small-remote-town combo can be hard socially, but awesome for one's writing.

I am doing some work with a rhetoric prof there, and I get the impression that they have a very nice and close-knit faculty.

Good luck with your decision!



Piglet said...


Compared to where I'm living, Las Cruces is going to be practically a metropolis. ^_^ It's got about four times as many people as my little college town here does. Plus, the desert is, like, right in your backyard in Las Cruces. Here, there's nothing around but farms.

I've been out west once, to Arizona; it was a while ago, but I really enjoyed the "feel" of it, if that makes any sense.

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

Thank you for the kind words of encouragement, Samara. My thoughts are with you and everyone else who is going through hell during this uncertain and maddening application process. Deep breaths. Keep writing. Everything is going to be alright.

Sarah Perrault said...

Hi Piglet,

Now that you mention it, Las Cruces is about three times larger than where I did my MFA, so when I was thinking of moving there, it did seem a generous size. After four years in Reno, my sense of scale has shifted again. :-)

Your comment about "the feel" definitely makes sense. I love the west, though I gather from colleagues here that not everyone does. That baffles me, but then, some of my friends in Michigan couldn't understand why I was so excited to be moving to the desert.



rima said...

In response to Megan, I'm also wondering about CalArts, too, but I'm not sure who to talk to just yet. I'm planning to go to the Accepted Students mixer on April 5 to hopefully meet people who can give me more insight. Will you be going?

Megan said...

Rima--I wish I could make it, but the date was a little soon to make plans for that, as I live in Wisconsin. I am planning on visiting the campus and hopefully sitting in on a class sometime in April before I have to make a decision. I'd love to hear whatever you learn from the mixer though :)

counting sheep said...

piglet, samara, joeyd, and everyone else i am forgetting or who isn't posting, i totally feel the same way. i am full of doubts. i received an amazing, funded acceptance in february, but since then i have 7 rejections, 3 more assumed rejections, and 1 unknown. i am afraid the school that accepted me made a mistake. i wonder if i need more time on my own. if all these rejections are an indication that i am not ready. i've only been seriously dedicated to writing for 1 year, so i know my writing sample lacked some of the polish that others probably had. and to add to my in securities, i feel terribly guilty for thinking these thoughts at all when i know many people didn't get in anywhere.

i am trying to tell myself that these are normal feelings. that everyone must feel this way before they start a program. and i'm also trying to remind myself that when i first decided to apply and picked my list of schools, my contant thought was, "all i need is 1." and i got it. anyway, thanks for everyone's support. it is nice to know that we are going through the same thing.

r.p. said...

JoeyD- I know you probably feel like the age factor, whether you are old or older :), is an issue that makes you insecure. But I feel like it can act as something good-- you've got experiences. I noticed that a lot of Iowa's students are a little older (whatever that means). My mentor was a graduate from Iowa and I believe she didn't graduate until she was in her early 30s. And there are other studnets in their mid and late 30's I'm sure at least.

On another note--
I've been accepted to Montana and waitlisted at Johns Hopkins. But I'm not funded for Montana. Any helpful ideas on how to get through the MFA w/o funding? It costs about $32,000 for two years (not as bad as many other schools). My husband will be working full time (if he can find a job!). Other than that, I've filed for the FAFSA...

Speak Coffee said...

counting sheep - MFA acceptances are extremely subjective processes. There just isn't the same kind of number crunching that will get you into law school for example. Maybe your writing really spoke to the acceptance committee at your one school and just didn't do the same at the others. But wouldn't you rather go to that school where you have already made some sort of connection/impression anyway? Just throwing that out there.

Yes, it's natural to start wondering when all the rejections pour in. But how many writers out there talk about their "best known story" being the one that was rejected 40 times before finally selling? You just gotta believe in it, and believe in yourself :)

Paige Jennifer said...

(1) I'm one week shy of 35 and in no way see my age as an issue to pursuing this degree (fiction). Truth be told, I was a sucky writer in my youth.

(2) I really enjoyed a Media Bistro class I took online. It ran around ten weeks and cost $500. Two thumbs up.

(3) Unlike most people commenting on these forums, I only applied to low res programs. I submitted paperwork to 11 schools - three have accepted me (UNO, UA-Anchorage & Spalding), one has rejected me (Murray State) and eight are outstanding (Pacific U, Fairleigh Dickinson, Bennington, Warren Wilson, Queens, Lesley, Stonecoast). I declined UNO and will decline UAA which leaves me with Spalding, a school I like but not one I like more than any of the schools I'm waiting on. The problem is Spalding told me I needed to commit by March 17th. I begged a week extension to March 24th. And, um, that's on Monday (gulp). I've been told I can tell them later but my slot will not be held beyond March 24th. Does that April 15th deadline to decide only apply to people who need funding? I'm not independently wealthy but I can swing the tuition with my income so every school knows I'm not applying for funding. Also, any suggestions specific to this pulling-my-hair-out predicament would be appreciated!

pps said...


Why should I take the GRE in August? Isn't that still a little early? Couldn't it be later?


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

First of all, sorry for misspelling your name in my last post, Bolivia.

Also, in reference to what sean said about there being writers who never write, check out a great book by Enrique Vila Matas titled Bartleby & Co.

Alyssa K said...

Hey Samara -

Have you been able to visit Wash U? I just got back from a trip there, and I loved it. The campus is gorgeous and the students and professors in the program were incredibly welcoming. Some of the curent fiction & poetry students toured me around the neighborhoods near campus, which are nice - they seem relatively safe and affordable. Everyone says they can live very comfortably on the $$ they receive. They have tons of time to write, since you don't teach in your first year, and all say that they've made significant progress in their writing that they wouldn't have been about to acheive outside the program.

I'm also dragging a husband with me when I move, which does complicate matters, but I almost have him convinced that he wants to live in St Louis. Of course we're nervous about him having to find a new job, but since the cost of living is so low, we have a little bit of time for him to look once we arrive - it's not like he'll have to go out and get a job in a coffee shop the minute we move to town.

At this point, he's a little more excited about the prospect of moving to Madison. I'm about to embark upon another trip to the midwest to visit U Minnesota and Wisconsin-Madison, both of which I'm very excited about and both of which have offered great admissions packages, though not quite so generous as Wash U's.

I also have offers from George Mason, Texas State, and U Washington, though for the UW offer I'm waitlisted for funding, so that kind of takes it out of the running unless something changes. I declined admission at Arizona just a few days ago - did anyone on the waitlist get in? That would be exciting.

To everyone out there who's reapplying for next year (or waiting to reapply in the future) - I applied to schools when I was a senior in college and only got in to one school, not my top choice (not even close) and no funding. When I re-read my writing sample and personal statement from that attempt, I can see why. I would never let me in! I even got not one but two letters of rejection from Columbia. I was like, "Okay, okay, I get it, you don't want me..."

After being out of undergrad five years and writing the whole time, I reapplied this past fall and am very happy with the results. I'm certain that I can get a lot more out of an MFA program now than I could have had I gone right out of college. I'm not one of those "It was meant to be" people - but I am glad it's turned out this way, even though I wasn't very happy about it at the time.

Pensive495 said...

Being that my MFA search began on this blog, i thought it befitting that I should find my way back here.

I just received my final notification: I was rejected from University of Virginia. WHOO HOO!! I would start clapping if I wasn't in my cube at work.
This has been a tremendous undertaking, and now it's finally...! Over? Wait, no.

This was the easy part.

I began this process eight months ago...the applications, the letters, the statements... and on and on. Now, I have been accepted to two schools: Pitt and Sarah Lawrence. Neither have funding, but i'm alright with that--I wouldn't have applied otherwise.

Six months ago I was a writer with the names of twelve schools. Now I have the names of two schools that said, "okay."

This IS only the beginning.

Cheers to all those that just completed a very long, tedious beginning. Good luck on the hard part; it'll be fun:)


Bolivia Red said...
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Bolivia Red said...

You can take the GRE later, but if you're in school or at one of those jobs that gets busier as the fall progresses, you want that thing out of the way. Studying for the GRE is something that's so easy to put off. Far too many people wait until the last minute, freak out, and get total crap scores. While a lot of schools don't really care about the scores, a few care a little bit, and you want to do your best.

Also, after you take the GRE, it takes time to get your scores and then have scores sent to your schools. You want all that stress and administrative hassles pared down to a minimum since the rest of the application process is so stressful.

camm said...

i was also accepted to nmsu without funding---connie voisine in poetry sent me a really reassuring note when i emailed with my financial concerns. i'd be happy to share it with you! (also, i'm about 90% sure i'm going there .) the cost of living is just really good, and i love the 3 year program. oh, and i also spoke on the phone with a current student who answered ALL my questions. she was in poetry, but i'm sure she could hook you up with a fiction person to talk with.

brittany looking for a cheap workshop--if you're poetry, i took an online workshop in the fall with kim addonizio for about $450. she has a spring one starting up soon; i'd be happy to forward you the email!

Samara said...

No, I haven't visited yet. I'm going to try to in the next couple weeks and go on a Wednesday so I can sit in on a workshop. Do you mind dropping me an email? srafert at gmail. I have more to add to that.

Oh yeah--Madison would be really tempting. I didn't get in there, but my sister is getting her MFA in printmaking there and loves the town. It is definitely more expensive than St. Louis would be--my sister and I are from Newark, DE, which is a pretty lively college town near a lot of big cities, and she says rentals in Madison are more expensive. However, it's beautiful with the two lakes.

spillingink said...

Megan + Rima,
I, too, need more info on CalArts. Though, I can't deny that they almost have me completely won over by the beautiful acceptance package. It felt like getting a present in the mail. All bright and shiny and pretty.

Rima, I will be at the accepted students day on April 5th. I have actually only been to CA once in my life and really don't know what to expect from Valencia at all. If either of you find out anything, please email me at Thanks!

Also, is anyone going to the Emerson Open House on Saturday, March 29th? I will be there. But I am having trouble finding an affordable hotel.

Any feedback on either CalArts or Emerson would be greatly appreciated.

Piglet said...


I emailed one of the current students who (I think/hope) was in the same position as I am now, but she hasn't written me back yet. And um, actually, I would really like to see some encouragement concerning financial can email me at no.cookies4you (at)

You're the first person I've seen who was also accepted there! ^_^


DesperateAndDetermined said...

So, I'm afraid I might be screwed. I got accepted to Sarah Lawrence. I also got rejected by the two schools I applied to that actually had reasonable aid packages. SL is offering a small gift, tons of loans, and I'd still have to work full time to make ends meet. Is it too late to apply for scholarships? Did the fastweb thing, and it hasn't gotten me too far. Other than that, I haven't a clue. Do I give up and let it go til next year. *sigh* Just looking for a little advice.

DesperateAndDetermined said...

So, I'm afraid I might be screwed. I got accepted to Sarah Lawrence. I also got rejected by the two schools I applied to that actually had reasonable aid packages. SL is offering a small gift, tons of loans, and I'd still have to work full time to make ends meet. Is it too late to apply for scholarships? Did the fastweb thing, and it hasn't gotten me too far. Other than that, I haven't a clue. Do I give up and let it go til next year. *sigh* Just looking for a little advice.

DesperateAndDetermined said...

woops. sorry 'bout the double-post.

Pensive495 said...

I got the same funding from SLC. I think I'm just going to choke up the cost. The gift aid will be very helpful, and I think if I play my cards right I could leave SLC with only 30 grand in loans (including living expenses). Only 30 grand in loans at a private school in New York? I can deal with that. It's how much you'd be paying with partial funding at places like Columbia. And there are tons of work study opportunities on campus:)

Sara said...

Congratulations to those who have heard good news.

I've been accepted to Columbia and NYU, and I'm having a hard time deciding between the two.

I can't seem to find a side-by-side comparison of the NYC schools, and most of the discussion on this blog so far has centered around the high price tags of Columbia and NYU.

Disregarding the cost of the programs for a minute--does anybody have any insight on which is a better program? My impression is that Columbia has a better reputation and better alumni success, but since NYU is actually more selective, I don't really know what to think.

And besides reputation alone, the structures of the programs are very different. At Columbia, a full time student takes about 4 courses a semester, whereas at NYU, you'd take 2 per semester. That's a pretty significant difference. Does anybody know what the "standard" course load is for MFA programs?

What I'm really hoping for in posting here is a side-by-side comparison of NYU and Columbia from people who know the programs well, but any comments even remotely related would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Samara said...
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Amanda said...
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lavademon said...

Hey all,

The only acceptance I have gotten so far is from the infamous Emerson in Boston. (I know... I applied basically because I am really interested in the Boston area)Reading the posts about it has been interesting because there seems to be a diversity of opinion. One post claimed the TA funding is terrible and another student says it is a good deal. Can both be true??? Also I've read complaints of overworked faculty and that the BFA may be regarded as better than the MFA. Are there any current/former students that could weigh in or offere some gossip? I feel as though I may get more candid responses about the program on a blog than through students that the program puts me in touch with. Has there been any effort to improve these things? Also, generally how do people feel about asking really pointed questions to faculty/students on a visit, such as "I hear your faculty are overworked and underpaid and your funding is really bad and that your BFA's are openly known to be better than your MFA's. What are your thoughts on these criticisms that seem to be widespread on writers' blogs?" of course, I would be more tactful than that, but you get the point.

camm said...

to piglet - i emailed you and never got a response. i hpe you got it! no.cookies4you gmail, right?

Jesslyn said...

So April 15 being only a couple of weeks away, I'm wondering if anyone can offer me some advice.
I've been accepted at 2 schools, both of which don't fund. I'm waitlisted at 4 schools out of which two are fully funded, and I am at or near the top of their respective waitlists. In all likelihood, I will not be able to afford a program without full funding. Should I accept one of the offers from the two schools without funding before April 15, while holding out that I might hear from a miraculous "yes you're in" from the waitlist schools?

Piglet said...

camm, got your email and replied. Thank you so much!


Sara said...

Hey Jesslyn,

That's a tough dilemma. Maybe you could ask to defer admission for a year at one of the schools where you were admitted? And then wait to see if you get in off a wait-list? It might mean putting off the MFA for a year, but it could also give you the most amount of flexibility. Just a thought--feel free to ignore it. Good luck!


Jesslyn said...

Thanks, Sara. I'll look into that. :) Best.