Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Defering: Possible to Do?

Greg writes in:

I'm curious about MFA programs and deferring... My question: do MFA programs (fiction, in my case, though I'm guessing genre wouldn't matter) generally allow accepted students to defer? I'm ready to apply now, but there's a possibility (work/family stuff) that I won't be able to attend a program until fall 2010. I'd just wait and apply next year, but it seems application numbers are always going up, and I'd be pretty disappointed if I didn't apply an ended up having an open path to attending next fall after all.

It's my understanding that the majority of programs will allow this, if the reason is a legitimate one. I'd appreciate the advice and experience of others!

One story: When I received a Stegner Fellowship, I wasn't actually finished with my MFA. I asked the Stanford Administrative person "Can I defer the Stegner for a year?" There was a long pause on the other line, and she replied "No, but you can reapply!"

Needles to say, I jumped into the Fellowship. Rock on. -- Tom


gulfcoasting said...


On that note, what was the reaction in your program when you elected to take time off for the Stegner?

I don't want to keep putting off my MFA, but I know I'll end up dropping whatever I'm doing in the fall of 2011 to jump on a campaign.

Just how unheard of would this be?

I really don't want to have to plan my MFA around election years.

J said...

i think this is sort of related to the topic of deferring, because i'm trying to decide if i'll be applying this year or next of the major factors, as far as i can see, that varies year to year at each program is visiting schools announce their visiting faculty in advance? where could i find out who will be at iowa/michener/michigan/etc. in fall 2009?

Tom Kealey said...

My program was rather happy that I received a Stegner. We worked around my last year by correspondence (on that note, it was just on class, plus my thesis).

As far as jumping off in 2011, my advice is to deal with it then. If you build goodwill until then, you'll receive goodwill when the time comes. That's been my experience.

-- TK

julianna said...

There is a hitch here on the admissions side -- at least here at Florida State.

If we're not told about the defering early enough we lose that TA line and funding, which can be a real loss. But, frankly, if we really adore someone's work enough to admit them with a TA line and funding, which is to say the vast majority of our grad students, then we're likely to ask them to reapply, sometimes with the understanding that we'll rubberstamp it the next year...

It would be an open discussion between the student and the admissions person that year ... and we'd certainly be understanding -- life comes at us all unexpectedly from time to time.

Ray said...

Last year, I emailed about 20 MFA programs asking them about deferring a year. Most said no. I wish I still had the list, but it's deleted from my school email's account.

Eileen Wiedbrauk / Speak Coffee said...

I always heard that deferment was a long shot.

Amy T said...

Antioch University Los Angeles allows you to defer as many as two times.

I am so grateful for this, because my personal circumstances changed drastically after I applied, and I was no longer confident in taking out a large student loan. Now I have time to figure out a different way to pay for grad school.

I think this is why I chose Antioch, though--because they seem very tied to life in the real world, and less wrapped up in the fantasy that academia can become.

Of course, I am a little nervous about the program head thinking I am a flake. But I have to trust they wouldn't allow people to defer unless they understood that life happens ...

Amanda said...

UNH lets you defer for up to one year.

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