Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Applying to Low-Res Programs?

Here's a question from brooklyn for you:

I've noticed a lot of group discussion and comparing of notes every March and April, as everyone's waiting for acceptances.

My question: is anyone else applying to low-res programs RIGHT NOW? I just put in apps for Bennington, Warren Wilson, and Vermont at the September deadline- to begin in the winter residency. I really have no idea when to expect to hear back from the schools, how the size of the applicant pool in Sept. compares to the number that get in March, etc.

Know it's a lot less common to apply this time of year (from what I see on the blogs). If anyone has experience with this, or is experiencing it NOW, I'd love to hear from you.


Hopefully we'll get some comments for you here. My other suggestion is to point your browser to Erika Dreifus's blog, over at The Practicing Writer. Erika's extremely well informed about low-res programs. Check her out.

Feedback for brooklyn, anyone?


eLily said...

I can relate. I applied to a low residency program at this time last year. It was very last minute, and not exactly my style, but it was a tricky situation. My life took a serious shove last year and I was suddenly forced to reevaluate everything, including a great offer from a traditional program that I was very much looking forward to attending.

At any rate, I applied before the mid-September deadline and during the second week of October, I got the call from my program's director informing me that I got in under the wire.

I'm not entirely sure on how the statistics vary from semester to semester. But I do know that A LOT goes into assigning faculty / student pairings, balancing seminars and workshops, and coordinating all else that takes place during the residencies. With that in mind, I'd venture a guess that they have their final numbers figured out by the end of October, so that they know, not only who's in, but who's enrolling.

I hope this helps and good luck!

The low res route is really an amazing experience, and I can't say enough good things about it. Looking back now, I can't imagine myself taking any other path. I suppose when life shoves you in another direction, there's a good reason for it.


Enzo said...


Thank you so much for putting my question up front! And thank you Lily, for chiming in with your experience. It sounds like last year was quite difficult, but so glad it put you on a path (with the mfa) you're happy with. The low res route seems perfect for me in my life right now... but am trying not to attach to much in case I don't get in this round. Still, hoping and assuming all will land as it should in the end.

slaughter said...

I just sent off apps to Bennington and Warren Wilson, too.

All the reading I've done says it could take anywhere between 2-6 weeks... but I'd bank on 6-8. So sometime in October is all I can hope for...

But know you're not alone, if that helps at all?

Are you thinking about applying to other schools in the winter (depending on what you hear come October)?

Blu said...
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Blu said...

I have just been offered acceptance to one of the schools to which you're applying, which had a September 1 deadline. I sent in my application in early August. I imagine many applications go in even closer to the deadline, and I believe that makes a difference. The other program to which I applied and was accepted recieved my application sometime before the June residency. Therefore, they had plenty of time to review my work and consider my potential.

I think you could hear something any time now, but, as Lily mentioned, they may still be making offers as late as mid October or even later. I believe that generally they begin reading applications as soon as they get them after the previous residency. If you applied close to the deadline, then they may have a lot more applications to read and it may be that in that case you won't hear anything for a few more weeks.

Enzo said...

Thanks all for your helpful responses. I guess I'll just have to wait and see! Best of luck Sara...

3M said...

re: "BLU"'s comment:

Did you get accepted in fiction or poetry?

Did they call, phone, or e-mail?


slaughter said...

I don't know if anyone's still checking this, but Bennington just called.

Accepted for poetry.

Still waiting on Warren Wilson.

Good luck to everyone!

Enzo said...

Hey Sara... that's great! Me too- I'm in to Bennington for fiction, and heard yesterday as well! How are you planning on working out deciding in time with the week deadline and probably no decision from Warren Wilson before then?

Congrats on the acceptance- maybe I'll see you there!

eLily said...

Congratulations to you both!

slaughter said...

Congrats to you, too, Brooklyn!

I don't know what to do about Warren Wilson either. I was sort of hoping they'd call this weekend or early next week.... but who can really tell.

I may call Monday and ask if they can tell me where they are in the whole process. No harm in asking, right?

slaughter said...

Ahh, I didn't have to call WW, they called me. Good news, as well.

I'm sure everyone will be hearing back shortly.


Unknown said...

Heard from Bennington yesterday. In for fiction.

3M said...

Can everyone posting here mention both the school and what genre they've been accepted for--fiction, poetry, etc.

Sara: when did you send in your applications? Did WW or Bennington say anything else: number of incoming poets, etc?


slaughter said...

I sent my applications about a week before the deadline.

They didn't give me any numbers. I'm sorry.

Best of luck!

3M said...

Thanks, Sara. Good to "talk" with someone going through the same process.

Do you think they inform applicants as they go through the applications, or do they go through all the applications and then contact their top choices?

How are you going to make your decision about which program to attend? Funding? Location?

Thanks for any feedback you're willing to provide.

Blu said...

Hey Guys,

Sorry, I guess, this being the first place I ever posted, I didn't know to check that follow up box. I will be in Bennington in January for Non-fiction. They called. I guess at this point everyone knows their modus operandi.

3M, as far as numbers at Bennington, if I remember correctly, they accept more people in poetry, than in fiction, and the least in non-fiction. But I'm trying to remember part of an extensive conversation, and I may have gotten it wrong. Maybe by now you've heard from them and it doesn't matter anyway!

Also 3M, I found that choosing a program is quite difficult. I was very selective about where I applied, and chose to apply only to two programs that I really felt were good for me. I was accepted in both poetry and non-fiction at the second program, and I also write fiction. I wanted to be somewhere that would allow me to focus on non-fiction, but also work on my fiction and poetry. Both programs would support that goal. Choosing was therefore very difficult. I had to pick a name out of a hat!

I'm just kidding. I did look at such things as location - or rather, the type of location, city as opposed to country. I liked the escape of the country setting offered at Bennington. I went through the faculty list, and then went to the library and bookstore and picked up their books and browsed through them. I looked at the history of visiting faculty to see what kind of writers they bring in to augment the program. I also asked questions about the structure of the residencies, the student faculty ratio (5:1 at Bennington), how the mentor faculty is assigned, the size of the lectures and/or seminars, and whether students participate in those lectures/seminars.

I tried to gauge just how excited they were about my work, and to work with me. I want to be somewhere where people are excited about supporting me, about the impact my work may have once developed.

I was interested in the diversity of the faculty and students, how they support students as developing professionals, any variations in the length of the residencies - one or two days to me, make a difference. I'm interested in a longer residency period myself. It was also very important to me that I could bring my puppies. Okay, again, kidding.

So Brooklyn, Sara, Jackie - congrats! Have people made their decisions? Who's meeting me at Bennington? Noone is in non-fiction with me, but that's okay, we'll still bump into each other there. From where in the world are you guys traveling?

3M good luck! Let us know.

3M said...
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Stacy said...

Hey, I applied to both WW and Bennington last year for the winter residency. I heard yes from Bennington on 19 Sep (I have a blog so I have the exact date). They gave me some sort of rather short deadline to respond yes or no (although I think that deadline is more flexible than they let on), and so I called WW to see if I was still in the running. WW said, yes, I was still very much under consideration, and to hold off on responding to Bennington. I received an acceptance email from WW on 24th Sep and shortly after that I let Bennington know I wouldn't be coming. I'm at WW now, and it's an amazing program. I couldn't really say enough good things about it; it truly feels like a privilege to be a part of the community of writers there. Hope that helps--looking forward to seeing some of you there in January!

rjfarrell28 said...

Really happy I finally found this website. (Don't ask why it took me this long!) I'm living in Spain so everything is sort of backwards. I applied to 7 low residency mfas for jan. Right now I'm in at Vermont and waiting on WW and Bennington. I'm applying in fiction. Anyone else still waiting or is the silence from the last two a sign? :)

Blu said...

Hey Rjfarrell28

I can't speak to whether or not the silence from those programs is a sign. They seem to call people. You are in Spain. Maybe that has something to do with it? I think it would be reasonable for you to call the program. I was in touch with one of my programs months before they accepted me - I had applied to this one very, very early.

I know how waiting is the worst. So why wait? I'd call. Good luck!


rjfarrell28 said...

Wow...this blog has gone cold (as has the one at P&W). Where are all the low res people?

Blu..thanks for the advice. I called and they were all really nice.

I've been accepted at VC, Waitlisted at Bennington and rejected at WW. I wasn't surprised (it still sucked!) by WW but it was better than waiting. The letter came about a week ago. I don't think I'd chose Bennington over VC now, but I do want to see if I get off the waitlist.

I'm wondering if anyone else is checking this and willing to share results?

Blu said...


rejection always sucks, but never as much when it is paralleled with acceptance, right? the one difficult thing i've experienced about posting - here particularly - is that some of us who are dialoguing would be rejected. the idea makes me sad. not so much if the person is rejected by one or a few schools, but if the person is not accepted by any schools. so i don't feel bad for you, as i'm sure you don't feel bad either. (you better not!) you can continue forward with your plans at a school you chose. that's wonderful!

i'm glad my advice worked out for you. i've given that advice a lot actually, because it's worked out well for me, and am glad to know that the advice to call doesn't suck. lol.

good luck at vc. too bad you won't be joining me at bennington. (too bad for me i mean.) it would have been nice to make the connection from here to there. but i imagine we'll connect somewhere.

i've started blogging about my experience trudging this path at check me out and stay in touch.


rjfarrell28 said...


Agreed. Seeing how 'green' I was in applying, I feel pretty lucky to be going to VC.

Enjoy the time down the road. I'm hoping for snow (sorry...7 years in Calif and 1.5 in Spain and I miss the stuff!)

I'll check out your posts on the new link.

Oh, and on a side note, I've been a total slacker since I've been accepted. I've done some revising, but am so distracted of late. I read some old posts and this seems to be a common malaise.

Blu said...


what is required of you before you begin your program?

at bennington, we have to turn in our writing sample that will be reviewed at the residency by december 1st, and send our request list for our faculty mentor by november. we also have to bring a reading list of about 25 to 30 books we will go over with our mentor faculty during the residency.

this has helped me to stay busy (writer busy). i'm reading at least one book from each faculty and writing new material for the first residency. i have also had to do a lot of research to develop my booklist. (i've listed my books on my blog if you want to check them out.)

as far as my writing, i intend to have 50 to 60 new pages written by the end of the month (writing on the memoir i applied with), and then spend three weeks in november editing before printing and shipping it out in time to be received by the dec 1 deadline. i have as backup, in case i don't feel i've gotten my new writing strong enough, the manuscript i applied with, but the goal does have me writing.

my point is, if you're looking to be more productive with your writing, why wait till you enter the program to be motivated by it? i'm sure you have some preparatory requirements that you can use to get yourself working.


Jessica said...

Any updates on this topic? I'm looking to apply for next year. How are classes going and such?

Karen said...

I'm so glad I found this blog. It's an invaluable (and free) resource. Does annyone know anything about the Whidbey Writers Association Workshop?

Anonymous said...

Anyone applying for low res right now?