Monday, April 28, 2008

Mailbag, April 27

A new mailbag for newish questions and comments. Summer's around the corner and there's sure to be some early birds thinking ahead to next year's application season. We're feeling spent, what with all the end-of-semester happenings lately, but we'd love to hear what's on your mind anyway.

Any special requests for in-depth MFA "lifestyle" topic coverage in the near(ish) future?

58 comments:

dwa~ said...

Hello All,

I was wondering which schools have international M.F.A. exchange programs?

I know that Florida State selects a few graduate students to live, learn and teach in London. But what else is out there?

Simply put: What international opportunities are available for M.F.A students?

lavademon said...

Anyone moving to or already living in Chicago that needs a roommate, by chance? Just thought I'd ask, I will be starting my MFA at Roosevelt University in the fall.

mgratherjr said...

I am beginning an MFA program in the South (Lake Charles, LA) and am wondering if a blog could be started with recs on surviving the MFA experience. It would be great to have information on juggling finances while being a TA, and just any other advice current MFAs may have...

Nick McRae said...

I second mgratherjr's request.

I am one of those people getting antsy already about applying this coming fall. This will be my first time applying. So, I have two questions:

1.) What does everyone recommend in terms of statements of purpose. I know this is a generic question, but any insights would be nice. What do people actually write in these things?

2.) When picking a school, how much weight should one give to geographical location?

nikkibatch said...

This might seem a little shallow, but as an undergrad at a university with very little dating, I was wondering what the dating scene is like in MFA programs. A lot of them are on the small side, so is dating difficult? Do you meet grad students in other programs?

Lizzy said...

dwa,

UNLV's MFA program has an international track in association with the Peace Corps.

Anyone know of others?

Lizzy said...

Thanks for the questions and suggestions, everyone.

mgrather and nikki, you may want to check out the MFA Student Life section of this blog:

http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/search/label/MFA%20Student%20Life

nick mcrae, check out the Applying-SOP section:

http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/search/label/Applications-Personal%20Statement%20%28SOP%29

Meanwhile, we'll see what we can do about getting more exact answers to your questions in the coming days, y'all.

Man with No Name said...

Hi everyone -

I'm a senior at Ohio State and am trying to decide between a few MFA programs. My interests are short fiction and humor writing. I'd greatly appreciate any feedback on these programs.

- Hunter College in NYC
- Sarah Lawrence College
- University of Pittsburgh
- UCLA
- American University
- Art Institute of Chicago

TheRant said...

Nick,

The SOP essay is probably the most tiring aspect of the application process, and there are many ways to go about writing the essay.

The first thing that is often debated is whether the SOP should be a creative piece or a straightforward essay. In order to decide which path you want to take, I recommend first checking your desired programs' individual SOP requirements. Some will ask for a 2 page essay, some will ask for several small essays, some will have specific things they want you to focus on, some will have rather broad topic prompts (i.e. Columbia Chicago's "Tell us a story about yourself"). Take a look at what your schools are asking of you, then decide which path you think will require the least amount of work. If you have a lot of the the generic "2-3 pg essay describing your background and goals" then it's safe to try and work a more creative angle. If you have a bunch of schools that have all sorts of crazy requirements, then I suggest writing something rather straightforward and that can be easily be broken-down to fit the different requirements of each school.

Ok, what specific things should you discuss?

1. Background- Talk about any essential information that has led you to the MFA doorstep (i.e. Undergrad experience, work experience, club/organization experience). I italicized "essential" because you need to keep things brief. You may have wanted to be a writer since you were 4 years-old, but that's not the type of stuff committees want to hear. Avoid being sappy or sentimental at all cost.

2. Goals- Talk about how you are going to use your time in the program and talk about what things you want to focus upon/accomplish while you're there. Avoid generalities (i.e. "I want to write a book", "I want to publish"). We all want to accomplish these things as writers, but there's a lot to learn before you get there. Delve into more specific things that you need to work on or want to focus upon while in the program. I wrote about how I wanted to focus upon improving how I incorporate theme and symbolism into my fiction, I also stated that I wanted to study contemporary literature so that I could learn what concepts 21st century writers were discussing in their works. Be specific to your needs here!

3. Talk about the program- This is probably the biggest pain in he butt; however, it's necessary. You have to focus on the reasons why you want to attend these programs. The rest of your essay you will send to every program, but this paragraph has to be specific to the individual program you're writing to.

I broke this down by thinking of the paragraph as three different sections:

a. Location- you should want to live in the places you're applying to so tell them what about the area makes the school attractive.

b. Make-up of the program- what part of the program's course of study do you like. Do you like how it focuses upon lit as well as writing? Do you like how it doesn't have any lit courses you have to take? Do you like how the program allows you to experience other genres beside your primary genre?

c. Extra-curricular - What other things does the program offer that will help you grow as a writer/person outside the classroom. Is there a lit mag you want to work on? Are the internships that you can apply for? Are there student groups that you can join?

Look at the websites of programs in order to get all of the info you need for this portion. You could also talk about the faculty here, but I think that's kind of risky.


Ok, hope that helps. Oh! Single-space, TNR "12, spaces in between paragraphs (Unless other requirements are given).

-The Rant

Nick McRae said...

Thanks a ton, therant. I appreciate your thorough answer!

Colleen said...

@dwa - Many MFAs, particularly the low-residency or brief-residency types, often offer residency opportunities abroad. Spalding is one of them. I suppose it depends on what type of program you're looking to enter.

@nikkibatch - erm, dating. By the time most people make it to the MFA, they are older than in most grad programs (I say this as someone with multiple grad degrees), so it's not usually a likely spot for dating. Great communication and harvesting wonderful relationships as a writer, yes.

Elizabeth said...

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to improve your chances when reapplying? I applied to 12 schools this past season and only got one offer without funding (which turned out to be a program I didn't feel sure about going to). I did try to apply to a mix of big and small name schools, so I'm left trying to look at my application and see where I went wrong.

Ankur said...

Any opinions on USC's MPW program? I can't seem to find much coverage on it.

Christopher said...

Hello,

I am just beginning the process of applying to programs, and I was wondering if there are any available samples of accepted writing samples out there. I feel like little ability to judge the quality of my work or whether I would be fooling myself (and wasting hundreds of dollars) by applying to some of the bigger name programs.

I have been writing seriously for several years now, and minored in creative writing in college, but my undergrad school was not, shall we say, a breeding ground for serious writers. I feel like I stacked up well against writing that I encountered at the undergraduate level, but the vast majority of my peers were not people who considered creative writing to be their desired career or life long passion, but rather a hobby or an easy "A" to pad the ol' transcript.

Are there any resources available that can give me an idea of the quality of writing that gets accepted to those ten or so most well funded and renowned programs?

Bolivia Red said...

Two things to consider about dating in the MFA program:

First, think about dating outside the MFA program, even outside the English department (or wherever your program is housed). If you both plan to go into teaching, it's tough to find a university with two positions in the same field, nor do spousal hires always work out. It can happen, but since it's already tough to get one job, multiple hires are going to be nearly impossible.

Second, and this from observed experience, consider dating outside the MFA program, because when you breakup with that cute poet or that hottie in fiction in the middle of your second year with another to go, it's going to be down-right awkward in workshop and unpleasant at parties, not just for you, but for EVERYONE.

mgratherjr said...

I tried to find the student life section on this blog and couldn't--the link did not work.

Can someone repost that link?

Thanks

TheRant said...

DWA:

Two programs that have a study abroad component that I applied to were Chatham University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Chatham, a full residency or low residency program, has what is called a field seminar aspect to their program. The places the program goes to changes every year, but they've gone to Germany, El Salvador, the Galapagos Islands, and they're going to Brazil this year. FDU, which is a low residency program, has 10 residencies over in England.

Christopher:

This is a question that a lot of applicants ponder( I know I did!), but it's a big waste of time in my opinion. As an aspiring writer, you know what good writing is. As a reader, you have come across it a hundred sometimes before. I know this point is hard to realize when you're a panicky applicant (it was really hard for me), but you should know when you're writing well and when you're not writing well. The biggest advice I can give you to help calm your nerves is: give your work to as many credible readers as possible and have them help you edit your work. Revise, revise, revise! Take in a lot of credible opinions and sort out the good editing points from the bad ones. If you put your work in the hands of people you trust and people who know what good writing is, then you'll be successful in creating/picking your best work to send off.

If you're a fiction applicant and still want to see some examples of the work being produced/accepted in writing programs across the country, pick up an edition of the Best New American Voices anthology. BNAV compiles different stories from a lot of the programs across the country, and primarily the work of writers from the "Big Boy" programs (i.e. Iowa, Columbia, etc). Remember, the stories in there are the absolute cream of the crop, and just because you're not writing on that level, shouldn't discourage you from applying. Read the stories and focus upon what aspects of storytelling the writers are effectively incorporating into their work, then try to mimic their techniques in your own work.

Best of luck,

The Rant

malcontent said...

I also had trouble determining the quality of my own work. I was unpublished; the applicant pool was unknown. Some people rave about my work; others pick it to death.

I knew I was going to be applying to at least a dozen schools, and that, since they all offered funding, I only needed admission to one. I applied to 13 elite schools. After those applications went out, I was in despair. My decision seemed foolish in the extreme, especially as the rejections started rolling in.

I was rejected from ten of those elite schools, but got into one good school, another that I'd thought was the longest shot, and waitlisted at another that I'd considered a near-impossibility. This is after I'd already planned what schools I'd be applying to in my second round.

Now that this is all over, I still can't determine the quality of my application pieces. I feel like I've read them and worked them to death. I'm numb to them. I know that more than 3/4 of the admissions panels I submitted them to decided to pass. I might have gotten in nowhere if I hadn't applied to the long shots. They took me, while some of the larger programs that I thought might be more likely to admit me weren't interested.

The only strategy I can really recommend is applying to as many schools as possible. My work managed to catch the eye of faculties at some of the schools that are very well-funded and selective, but it was roundly rejected at many, many more. If I had only applied to ten schools, I might very well be reapplying this year.

Now at the end of the application process, I'm still stymied by how subjective it can sometimes seem.

Tory Adkisson said...

man with no name:
I am an undergrad at UCLA and there is definitely no MFA program here. I think you are probably thinking of UCI, although UC-Davis and UC-Riverside (and possible UCSC and UCSB) also offer MFA programs of some distinction.

I have heard good things about Sarah Lawrence, though nothing particularly optimistic regarding their funding. And as for The School at the Art Institute in Chicago, I have heard the writing coming out of there (at least for poetry) borders on the obscenely bad. I can see how that would be since it is primarily an art school.

Man with No Name said...

Thanks, Tory. I was looking at some upper echelon schools but would be more than happy to be accepted at Sarah Lawrence or a similar liberal arts school. SAIC is on my list mostly because of the location. I've heard some pretty uncomplimentary comments about Roosevelt and other Chicago area MFAs.

rachaelshay said...

I just got an offer with funding to Iowa State yesterday--how does that work with the April 15 deadline?

mgratherjr said...

rachelshay,

I've got a friend at Iowa State. Jim Coppoc. He teaches mainly undergrad, but is an awesome poet. You can find him on-line on Myspace and Facebook. He may be able to help you with any direct questions you have about ISU. Have fun in Ames it is a great town.

Bolivia Red said...

rachelshay,
After 15 April it's sort of anything goes as far as schools determining the deadline for you to accept. Usually they'll indicate a date in the letter/email/phone call, probably a week or two, which I'm sure you can negotiate to be a bit longer if necessary. Get in touch with the program director (or whoever signed the acceptance note) and get the details about the program, and the deadline.

Congrats!

Lizzy said...

Here is a link to this blog's MFA Student Life Section, for those interested.

DJP said...

Christopher, I have two suggestions for you:

1) Some schools post the final thesis of their graduates online. One I remember seeing was UMASS Amherst. I can't remember how I googled to get at those, but try stuff like "work of UMASS mfa students." Be creative. This isn't a definitive answer, but if it's work that's been approved and accepted by the instructors it might give you some idea. A school's literary journal might also offer a clue of what they consider "good" since these usually have faculty advisors.

2) You might want to try a writing workshop over the summer. It's a chance to workshop your sample. Even better, try finding one at a school you're interested in...several schools offer these during the summer. It would be a chance to get feedback from the people who will be reading your sample later on. It might make your name stand out a bit more, too.

Good luck.

Danielle

Bolivia Red said...

You can also look up theses on Proquest for the schools that are now posting their theses and dissertations online.

Keep in mind that these are the finished product of the MFA after lots of workshop and input from advisors, so they may not be the best examples of the quality of applications. The point of spending a few years in an MFA is to make huge leaps in your writing. Comparing application materials to finished theses is a little bit like comparing a first day piano student to Liberace (or something like that).

melee said...

Anybody planning on going to Chatham in here?

Amy said...

Date dangerously. You only live once. (Me and my MFA-mate both found good jobs working at the same U -- these things are possible... and more and more English Depts respect couples these days. In our case, he teaches poetry workshops and I teach fiction workshops... we make a great team for the U and the Dept.)

MJ Kramer said...

I still haven't heard a peep out of UC-Irvine. (I applied for the fiction program). What gives?

RyanL said...

I was wondering about Chatham myself. Fiction here.

Anyone know what kind of funding they have?

Funding is #1 priority. I'm either going for free or using tuition to shack up in the woods. They don't give scholarships out for shacking, do they?

Lizzy said...

mj,

Irvine was late notifying people last year, too. Check out the Speakeasy at PW.org. I think there's some folks who've heard from Irvine there.

Good luck.

C-lo said...

Hi Everyone,

I'm currently in an MA in Fiction program and I'm definitely going to apply for an MFA when I'm done. I was wondering if there are any programs that deemphasize the workshop model and put more stress on mentorship/working one-on-one with faculty. Even though my work has faired well in workshop, I'm a bit tired of this model for many of the same reasons Rick Moody mentions in this essay: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200508/moody Would love to hear from anyone about programs that are taking a more unique approach beyond the limited writing by committee.

lavademon said...

Just a question that is looking WAY forward: What kind of profit can one expect from a first book publishing coming out of an MFA? From what I've heard, not much. I really have no concept of this, though. I'm sure there is a range that depends on a lot of things, but I was just curious. I KNOW this is not a get-rich gig and the mfa is not about learning how to get huge book deals, so, please, no one tell me that. That is a lame answer to legitimate question.

thanks!

TheRant said...

C-lo,

If you're looking for a more one-on-one learning experience, rather than workshops, then you're going to want to check out low-residency programs instead of full-time programs. Low-reds stress one-on-one partnerships, where the student and teacher communicate through email, snail mail, and over the phone. There are workshops at the residencies that you have to attend every semester, but the one-on-one mentoring is where the bulk of the "writing instruction" takes place.

-The Rant

LAG said...

The average advance for authors whose name isn't King or Chabon is between $7,000 and $10,000. That's for major publishers. University and smaller presses? About $0. Many, many writers would gladly accept this.

C-lo said...

Thanks, therant.Yes, I've given some thought to low residency programs, but I'm still interested in having the consistent writing community that comes from a typical MFA program. Also, full funding doesn't seem to be available for these low-res programs—unless I'm missing something? So, ideally, I'd like to apply to more innovate full-time programs that deemphasize the workshop model... Any thoughts?

mgratherjr said...

C-lo,

I researched a ton of programs and looked at writer to student ratios, location, and support. I recently was accepted to McNeese State. It is a small full residency program that only admits a few students per year.
I have not started yet, but based on my research it sounds like this program may offer the one-on-one attention you seek. I can tell you I have chatted with both the fiction workshop teacher and the poetry workshop teacher via e-mail. They both respond in a timely fashion and voice personal interest in my work.

r.p. said...

Hi Christopher- I agree that it's a good idea to pick up Best New American Voices. A friend gifted me with the latest volume and I got to see small writing samples from students that graduated from Iowa and other elite schools.

It's also a good idea to find a list of the school's alumni. From there you can google the students' names and see what journals pop up-you may be able to read an excerpt of their work online.

So as far as writing sample, I took 2 stories I had written in the past year (out of undergrad). They had never been workshopped in a classroom but I did send it to 2 friends- one a poet, another a genius- and got their nod of approval.

For the SOP I think that there's a ton of advice out there. Generally, I think you should sound sincere. My SOP was configured in this way:
1. Undergrad: my major, my influences in readings, pertinent classes, my mentors, awards, publications
2. Life experience: where I've lived, succinct summary of unique travels and hardships
3. Goals
4. Why I want this program

Don't be discouraged with the process. Just choose your manuscript carefully as this is the greatest slice of the pie. Choose something you feel confident about and you feel best represents your type of work.

I applied to 11 schools last fall and got into Montana and Johns Hopkins. I'll be at Johns Hopkins in the fall and will record life in the MFA on my blog.

James said...

How about what literary agencies tend to poach lots of MFAs out of which schools

Your Compere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cotton said...

I'm also interested in a more one-on-one centered MFA program, although a low-residency program is out for me because of the lack of funding and teaching experience.

I'm an undergrad right now taking grad level workshops at my University, and while I love the peer interaction, the 12 different opinions can get really overwhelming, and I've seen some stories with great potential lose momentum and turn very predictable.

Does anyone else have opinions on workshops or how to deal with the overwhelming difference of opinions? Or know of programs that might have less workshop requirement and more craft based classes and one-on-one attention?

This is for fiction. And I'm trying to find a program as close to Boston as possible.

Thanks!

Lincoln said...

Cotton:


I'm an undergrad right now taking grad level workshops at my University, and while I love the peer interaction, the 12 different opinions can get really overwhelming, and I've seen some stories with great potential lose momentum and turn very predictable.


In my experience this is really more of an undergrad problem than a grad problem. In undergrad people in general are pretty narrowly read and more so are taught only one way to judge a story (less telling, more showing. How about an epiphany at the end? etc.)

In grad school the students are more serious readers and writers. They have been exposed to a lot more work and styles and are better able to help different writers do different things instead of shoe-horning every story into a predictable formula. At least that has been my experience at Columbia.

Recently George Saunders gave a talk here and commented that workshops help people individualize their writing. You want to be different from your peers and hone down your own talents. This is pretty much the opposite of the normal claim about workshops, but I thinmk Saunders was spot on for graduate schools, or at least ones that foster aesthetic diversity.

So I wouldn't worry about it being as much of a problem in grad school as undergrad.

My 2 cents.

Lautreamont said...

Oh Lincoln, its funny you and I were both in that Saunders lecture, laughing away, and didn't know it. When I start my mfa in poetry at Columbia this september I'm sure well see eachother though you will not know who I am and I, unless your name really is lincoln, will not know who you are. The Internet is delightful! And btw how amazing and astute was Saunders? He trashed MFA programs in the most intellectually stimulating and heartbreakingly true way. Nevertheless, I look forward to getting my MFA at Columbia U., so many people ruthlessly trash it on this blog yet, i often pause to wonder, how many of them would actually get in?

rawg said...

Hello All,

I know that this blog is specifically designed for those already out of undergrad, but I am wondering if my major as an undergrad matters when it comes time to apply for my MFA.

I am currently in the process of transferring from a junior college to a university and trying to decide on where to go. I'd prefer to major in Comparative Literature and minor in Creative Writing. If I do this, I will probably go to UC Berkeley who have a strong Literature program, but as I understand, has an almost non-existent Creative Writing program. However, I made other schools with a stronger background in Creative Writing (UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA and I'm waiting on NYU) and I'm wondering if it is more prudent to go to one of these schools instead if my ultimate goal in education is an MFA?

Another consideration for me is money as I am a prior military serviceman living off my savings. I'm getting a full ride to Berkeley, and close to that from the other UC's, but if I make NYU, I'm assuming that they will give me a lot less money because I'm not an instate resident. I know that location matters, but would the benefits of going to NYU as an undergrad offset paying more than going to somewhere like Berkeley? Any advice would be great, thanks.

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

I'm an undergrad at Berkeley- I know I was just whining about it, but the creative writing community, while small, is still pretty cool. The only problem, for some, is that you have to apply to get into most of the creative writing classes and the deadline for next semester has already past. There are other ways to get your creative writing in, such as decals (student run classes) and creative writing in different programs.

Email me if you want the inside scoop.

r.p. said...

Cotton- I also think that the undergrad workshop can be filled with people who read narrowly. In my experience, there were also people who rarely read fiction and didn't write it well either who were trying to voice opinions.

I had 17 people each time in my undergrad workshops and I ended up listening to people and eventually filtered out the people whom I didn't trust. Primarily people who either didn't write well and had no idea what they were talking about or people who didn't have a good critical eye. You can do a round up by talking to your peers and seeing who they read and by reading their writing. I think that grad workshops are better- the grad program weeds a lot of people out for you.

But your writing is not a democracy. It's your work. So be judicious about who you're listening to. Discern who is worthwhile.

cotton said...

Thanks for the advice. It's not necessarily that I don't *like* workshops, just that it can be overwhelming and I wished I could work one on one with my professor's more, which I'm sure will be more prevalent at the MFA level.

r.p. said...

Cotton- In my undergrad, I worked one-on-one with Sarah Bynum, who was a finalist for the National Book Award, by signing up to do an independent project with her.

You're at the end of your undergrad career, but that may have been a good option.

Because Bynum was so incredibly busy, we met 1-2 times a week for 30-45 minutes to discuss my work.

Also, I was a frequent visitor during most of my professors' office hours. It's a great way to get face time and in the end, I had 3 offers for recommendations. A little invested time can work toward your benefit. Oh, and the relationship is nice, too.

MJ Kramer said...

Rawg,

I'm not in an MFA program yet, though I put out a couple of apps this year, but I have to say that if Berkeley is giving you a free ride, go to Berkeley! It's a great school, and some of us just gotta go where the money is.

I studied a lot of interesting stuff in undergrad, but took very few creative writing courses (my college offered next to none). The creative writing classes were a good experience, but I wouldn't have traded my liberal arts education (Spanish, comparative literature, government, cultural studies, linguistics, etc etc) for a program that focused primarily on creative writing. That's why I want to go to grad school!

Whatever you decide, best of luck!

MJ

No Name said...

Greetings!

I'm hoping someone can help me with a bit o' wisdom. I'm currently a "working" writer (I make probably 1/3-1/2 of my income writing for various magazines and newspapers). I do mostly feature-y stuff with creative nonfiction thrown in when I can get it. I'm not really a journalist.

I have no desire to teach full-time. Nor do I have a great drive to publish in the literary-press world.

I do, however, want to become the best writer I can be. I also NEED to move up the pay scale from limited-circulation 'zines to the big boys. I hope to do more creative nonfiction and less "just-the-facts" stuff as I move forward.

(I wouldn't mind writing fiction, either, and have placed a couple of my pieces in smaller mags. But haven't figured out a way to make that pay, and with a wife in grad school, I'm a mercenary at present.)

Anyway, I always thought I would eventually pursue the MFA. But reading some of the comments on this blog, and chatting with a friend currently in a MFA program, makes me wonder if that's the wisest course for me.

Would I perhaps be wiser to "work up through the ranks," as it were--simply continue writing and submitting work? I feel like I could really benefit from a workshop environment and intensive mentoring, but don't know if there are MFA programs that accommodate less "literary" ambitions.

Does anyone have thoughts or advice? Please feel free to e-mail me off-list at ghalitzka {at} yahoo if you prefer.

Many thanks!

Samara said...

No name--
If you're looking to move up the magazine-writing ranks, I seriously doubt an MFA would make a difference--I used to work in magazine publishing and have a good friend who works full time freelancing for major glossies, and neither my friend nor any of the editors I worked with had MFAs to my knowledge--they had all just worked their ways up the ladder through making contacts, pitching pitching pitching, and slowly writing for bigger and bigger publications. Also, my husband is a full-time newspaper journalist, and it seems like he learned the same stuff in his crappy first job at a weekly that our friends who went to j-school did.

That being said, I have met a LOT of magazine writers who try to fit in fiction writing whenever they can.

However, if you do the MFA because you care about your creative writing and want the space/time to improve that, then why not? Although, I know how much it stressed me out to apply as one half of a marriage. We are obscenely lucky that my husband could land a good job in the same town where I got into a fully-funded MFA program. I almost questioned whether I should have applied in the first place, I was so worried about the financial implications, but it worked out for us.

Lizzy said...

rawg,

I'd say choose the school where you're going to get the most out of your undergrad career with as many benefits and as little debt as possible.

In your shoes, I'd choose Berkeley in a heartbeat. However, that's strictly about what I value. If UCLA has the CW choices you need, I would think it would be another great alternative.

Murphy said...

Just wanted to share my MFA story to encourage anyone who's still on a waitlist. Yesterday, I received a letter from Antioch telling me that all the slots for this year had been filled, and it was unlikely that a spot would open up for me.

I was waitlisted there about a month ago, and getting this letter was heartbreaking because Antioch was my last shot at getting into an MFA program this year.

Well, today, the director called me to ask if I had already made plans to attend another school. When I told him no, he told me someone just declined the school's offer and I was next up on the waitlist. I was elated and accepted right there on the spot.

So if you're still waiting and already looking to next year like I was, just wanted you to know all hope is not lost. Good luck.

Lizzy said...

Congratulations, murphy. That's excellent.

melee said...

has anyone have yet to hear from a school? i have one school still that i've not heard a word from. i'm assuming i did not get accepted but still, i spent 60 dollars and would like to at least get my rejection letter

Speak Coffee said...

RAWG: re: undergrad major. Most MFA programs want to see a heavy emphasis on English classes. So majoring in Comparative Lit is fine as long as your writing sample shows you can write and have potential to move forward. Even majoring in creative writing doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a writing sample that will get you in to an MFA program. As everyone says, the process is subjective and unpredictable.

NO NAME: a traditional MFA may not be the way to go. A low-residency program might be an option if you want to plug the fact that you have an MFA in your magazine queries, but that won't always get you an assignment either. I'm always a fan of the week long workshop. Actually, I'm a big fan of the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. They get a mix of people -- pro-writers, MFA candidates, beginners with potential -- and it makes them more accepting of a range of desires/directions and abilities. It's an intense week of writing and discussion. It could be a way to "get back into things" meet people and get a few ideas of where to go from there.

Catherine said...

@Melee,

It's possible you're waitlisted and just don't know it. Unless the school you're waiting on is seriously disorganized, you should hear something. Perhaps you could try getting information out of the department somehow.